Saturday, April 3, 2010

Neighbor Possum

I was busy with yard work but couldn’t help but notice the neighbor standing at the back fence. This is not a let’s chat style neighbor, in fact she avoids eye contact so we rarely speak at all. But now there she was. I waved a hello. She didn’t respond. She just stared. I moved closer and realized she was staring down. “Hi,” I said. “Anything wrong?”
She looked up vacantly. “There’s a possum,” she said.
Sure enough, there was an opossum lying motionless beside the base of the concrete birdbath situated near the fence that we shared.
“I don’t know what to do,” she said, gesturing to the south. “I’m waiting for my neighbor to come over.”
Ah, the neighbor to the south. I don’t share a fence with the neighbor to the south of Possum Gal but I am aware of this neighbor. We have never been formally introduced but I call her Big Mouth. She yells, frequently and at length. The first few times, I wondered if she needed help. Eventually it was clear that she was just yelling; yelling at her dog, yelling at her husband, yelling at the birds in the trees.
So there we stood and waited for Big Mouth and stared at the motionless opossum. Soon Big Mouth was standing there with us. We all agreed that it was an opossum and it was not moving. One of them said it might be dead. I suggested we leave it alone and tomorrow if it’s still there we’ll know its dead. I even volunteered to bury it if it turned out to be dead. We stared at the opossum some more.
I said, “maybe he’s, you know, playing possum. “
They gave me a blank look. It was difficult not to laugh.
“We ought to do something, “ Big Mouth said.
“Well,” I said, “if he is playing possum and we leave him alone, he’ll just leave.”
Big Mouth looked at me like I was a stupid and said, “but he could bite a child!”
“Possoms aren’t really known for being aggressive,” I said.
“We don’t know that!” Big Mouth said.
Yes, I could see the headlines now, Crazed possum on rampage in Oakland county neighborhood! Children in danger! Rogue killer possum strikes again! Citizens abandoning their homes!
“Look,” I said. “He’s a wild animal. And we shouldn’t mess around with a wild animal. But dangerous? Highly unlikely. We should simply leave him be.”
Big Mouth glared at me. Then she said to Possum Gal, “we should call someone.”
Yep, good idea, call someone. Try the neighbor to the north, maybe you’ll get the answer you want.
“Good luck,” I said, and went back to my yard work.
Good thing it wasn’t a raccoon, he’d probably have a shiv.

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