Tears drip from my eyes, and I can not stop laughing as my roommate, Joe, stammers on about getting rid of raccoons. The memory of his little-girl scream, the shocked look on his face, and the way he wind-milled back out of our fireplace makes me laugh harder every time I think about it.
“I’m serious, we have to get rid of the raccoon in our chimney!”
I know he’s serious, and I know we have to get rid of raccoons, but my laughing fit is making me hiccup out of control, and I can’t breathe, I’m convulsing so hard. What makes it worse is our other roommate, Todd, is laughing, too. I have to stop looking at him, or I’ll laugh myself into a coma.
Joe is kind of the macho man out of our group. He’s the guy who spends at least two hours at the gym every day, bragging about his arms, even though most of the time is spent texting his girlfriend, drinking water, or looking in the mirror in between a couple of sets of grunting and lifting. Hey, I don’t make fun of him, because neither Todd nor I can handle tools other than the occasional hammer or wrench, so it’s up to Joe to fix our toilet, install the new dishwasher, and, as of tonight, investigate whatever was making that noise up in our chimney.
We heard it at the end of our weekly game night. We all have different gaming consoles, and we hook them all up in our living room, so we can rotate from game to game, trying to beat each other’s scores. Some of our other friends were invited, too, but only on the condition they brought chips and drinks. The raccoon in the chimney must have been making noise for a while, but we didn’t hear it until most of the guys had gone home. Joe and Todd were picking up some of the empty cans while I finished up a game, and we heard a little scratch and a kind of chittering sound come out of our fireplace.
I didn’t bother to stop the game, until we heard it again, and Joe told me to shut up the game or he’d turn it off for me. The three of us sat there, staring at the fireplace, waiting for the noise again. When we heard it, a little rustling sound, we jumped up and ran around doing random things. Todd ran for the phone. He was going to call 9-1-1 until we yelled at him to stop dialing and hang up. It couldn’t be that serious. I grabbed a broom from the kitchen, although I’m still not quite sure what I planned on doing with it. Joe ran for the fireplace, and banged on a spot just over the mantle. He says he was trying to scare whatever it was, so it’d run back out and get out of the chimney.
None of that worked, and when we heard a noise again, Joe decided he was going to grab a flashlight and have a look for himself.
Flashlight in hand, he pulled the grate back, got on his back, and squirmed his way back into the unused fireplace. At first, he didn’t see anything, but we sure knew when he did. Raccoon eyes gleamed down at him from the dark, paws outstretched, and Joe screamed a scream that would have made a six year-old girl proud. He’s still babbling about “getting rid of raccoons,” and Todd and I are still laughing hysterically.