FIFTY - Rip, Van, Winkle...and Petra

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When I woke up today, I went next door and told Norm about Peterson's current condition. He said he thinks I'm overthinking things. I explained that I overthink pretty much everything, but he just shrugged and started swearing under his breath while he sanded some ragged looking wood in the barn. He's pretty annoyed that Audrey keeps gnawing away at the woodwork in there. Says she's doing it because she's bored, and why, he has no idea. He said Snowflake and Desmond are two perfectly entertaining companions, or they would be if she would just give them half a chance. He may have a point. I've watched Audrey's behaviour quite a lot lately and I have arrived at the conclusion that she is quite stuck up. Probably because she came from a highly-respected breeder in Coombs and arrived in a fancy mauve and teal horse box that had "Precious Cargo" written on the side in gold cursive. I guess she thinks she's better than Desmond and Snowflake, who were led home by Norm on dirty lead shanks from a ramshackle farm on the west side called, Rancho Costa Lotta.

Anyway, Norm said I shouldn't worry about Peterson. He said that some taxidermy will start to breakdown after a while—the fur in particular—and that maybe it was just "Peterson's time." Well, I am definitely NOT buying that. I am, after all, highly intuitive (according to Daisy Archibald), and my gut tells me there is something else going on with him. I just wish I knew what it was!

I thanked Norm for hearing me out, and he said, sure thing, Kid, and then started coughing so bad that he had to go and sit on a hay bale and catch his breath. I think maybe he inhaled some sawdust or something. He coughs a lot these days, and I suggested that it might be a good idea for him to start wearing a face mask when he's working with wood from now on. He said, "Who are you? My mother?" And I said I was just trying to be helpful, and then he shot back, "Well, if you want to be helpful, you should bloody well piss off, so I can finish my work." Of course, he said this in a kind sort of way, so I wasn't offended. (I think rural men of Norm's generation are cantankerous by default. They seem to enjoy yelling at small children and shocking pinched-looking women with their vulgar language while they're waiting in the checkout lines at grocery stores.)

***

Okay. You are not going to believe what happened this afternoon! Even now, at ten p.m., I am having a hard time wrapping my brain around it.

Here's what happened.

I was walking back from the village drug store, having bought some more Tylenol for Dad (and a bag of Hawkin's Cheezies for myself) and I thought about stopping in to see how Clyde was getting on, but just before I got to his place, I heard some seriously frantic barking coming from Beeker's Park. A minute later I saw a big golden lab—the source of the barking—standing in front of stump.

Now, I am not normally one to get all up close and personal with an obviously agitated strange beast, but it wasn't the dog that intrigued me; it was the stump.

I "nice doggied" the mutt, who didn't stop barking, and who also seemed oblivious to my presence, and then I peeked inside the stump. My eyes nearly bugged out of my head! Tucked down about a foot, nestled in a bunch of dead leaves and stuff, were three baby raccoons. They barely had their eyes open! They were squeaking and squirming and appeared to be extremely hungry.

I looked all around, but I couldn't see the mother raccoon. I did, however, see a man approaching us with very purposeful steps. He was wearing a torn coat and a mean expression. He grabbed hold of the dog, whose name was Tucker, and said, "Tucker, you fucker! You're a goddamn machine!"

Turns out Tucker was in the habit of killing things: rabbits and raccoons mostly, and the mean-looking man in the torn coat told me the dog had just killed a coon and was fixing on the "three young'uns, too."

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