Winter Raccoon 

It was the witching hour, in the dead of winter. I was playing cards with Yolanda and Angie, two of my cousins from Ohio, and my mom when our nightmare began. It started with the sound of sharp blades cutting through fabric, and a cold breeze entering the room. Being the only one with my back towards the sound, my fear was suspended in the unknown. I saw the faces of my family, their eyes widened, their faces pale. I heard nothing but the fear that invaded our home. Pangs of terror soared through my skin each time I heard the sounds of steel breaking through. As my family pushed away from the kitchen table and ran towards the opposite end of the house, all I heard were the screams. My cousins plead with my mom, “Tia! Please! Oh, God! What is it?” My mom pleading for my father to wake up, “Juan! Juan! Something is in our home! Oh, God! Juan!”

As I turned towards the sound, I saw three long, jagged cuts in the material covering the fireplace. I moved closer to inspect what was on the other side until I was hunched over staring directly into another set of eyes. The cold winter air wrapped around my throat, suffocating my fear, I couldn’t scream or cry for help. I slowly took a step back, then another, and another, I am now huddled in a corner with the rest of my family, and horrific realization that my father was still asleep in the next room.

Before I could grab hold of my mom, I heard another tear shredding the fabric in two. A wolf-like figure jumped out of the fire place. It wore a mask and had claws like daggers. A long black stripe ran from its head to its tail, and the tail – a striped thick bush of fur, this creature with its demonic shape and hissing noises leapt from the fireplace and into my mom’s vanity room. “Is that a ra-ra-raccoon?” my cousin echoed in the distance.

If my mom was scared moments before, she is now terrified, horrified, petrified, scarified knowing that this devilish imp has locked itself inside this tiny room. Inside this 4 by 8 inch fortress was the fountain of youth. As a child I remember seeing my mom transform from her day to night look with the application of a darker lip or eye. I remember sitting on the granite countertop and dreaming of the day that I would be able to have my very own perfumes, make-up, cleansers, nail polishes, oils, myrrh, and frankincense. “JUAN!!!!!!” she cried. Finally, my father, half-dressed and completely disoriented, bolted out of the bedroom and into the living room to save the day. Before he could finish tying his robe, my mother yelled at him, “It’s a raccoon! A raccoon has locked itself in my vanity!”

As if our winter evening wasn’t chaotic enough, from the vanity room, we heard sounds of drawers and cabinets opening and slamming shut, plastic containers hitting the floor and walls. The raccoon, clearly demon-possessed, sounded as if it was crawling on the ceiling. I was starting to believe the sounds could not possibly come from one raccoon alone but thirty, fifty, a hundred, a hundred-thousand legions of them. Whether it was one or a hell’s gate, it was clear that my mom’s cosmetic collection, and the fountain of youth itself, was being violated by a godless animal.

We each inched closer towards the sound, until we found ourselves standing in the living room in a silent fear at the many deaths my mom was experiencing in this moment. There was nothing we could say to comfort her or to undo the victimization of my mom’s Clinique, Mary Kay, Estee Lauder, Lancôme, and Elizabeth Arden collection. Nothing!

My mom, in tears, seems so fragile in that moment. Seeing her lost in the memories of her free-gift-with-purchase sprees, her buy-one-get-one-free frenzies, her twenty-five-percent-off excursions. It was all for not. With each clanging and crashing of beauty essentials and each screeching and scratching of the room itself, this creature from hell had violated my mother’s very essence. “Oh, my God! This isn’t happening! Juan! Myyyyyyyyy make-up!” she wailed in anguish. In this moment, I came to realize how precious life truly is. Such a profound sense of clarity, yet I felt so helpless.

Suddenly, there was silence. The house went quiet. My father, in a single bound leapt to the back door by the fireplace and swung it open. His robe moving in one solid stride seemed to lift him into the air. “Stand back,” my father said as he puffed out his chest. He opened the door to the vanity and before we could react, the raccoon – knowing he is no match for my father and his house shoes – ran towards the back door and disappeared into the midnight air.

But the vanity…

I still do not have the words to explain the devastation that winter raccoon caused. It is a sight I can never unsee, and a moment I will never forget.

© 2016 Cyndi Piña, All Rights Reserved

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