Nobody wanted to deliver mail to the trailer park, but I got stuck with it. There was a reason nobody wanted it. Danger lurked here; I was already robbed twice, bitten three times by stray dogs, and I also saw overdoses, fights, possible fugitives, a lot of guns, old missing children posters hanging on telephone poles, numerous rats, and the worst raccoons in the world.
I was at war with the raccoons. They chewed up letters, ripped open packages, destroyed mailboxes, and caused me all kind of trouble. They often out-smarted me.
I drove down the street and a few kids hit the mail truck with eggs, which smeared across the windshield when I ran the wipers. I sighed.
If I could find a mutual transfer, I planned to move far away from here. Maybe Alaska, I could be alone there. My health has deteriorated here, my stomach hurt, my hands went numb from carpal tunnel, and I was flirting with depression. I couldn’t remember the last time I laughed or even cried for that matter.
I stopped to eat lunch then heard a scratching sound coming from the back of the truck. I got out and checked, but nothing was there.
When I turned to go back, a raccoon ran out of the truck with my sandwich. It ran under an old fence and rumbled into the woods. They tricked me and it wasn’t the first time.
Now hungry and angry, my blood boiled over.
I passed a few rusted out cars and saw a gang of raccoons. They watched me and I swore they were laughing. I gritted my teeth and stormed after them with my dog spray canister in my hand. They scattered into the woods, but this time I kept going. I was so determined to get them; I lost track of how far I went.
I noticed an old shack covered with branches. Why was nobody else here? I knew the answer; fear. I wasn’t that smart. My mind drifted to a possible horrific discovery like a body or a hidden chamber holding missing children. I remembered the missing posters. I yanked the door open. Inside, I saw a bunch of packages and when I lifted one up it slipped out of my hand. When it hit the ground, white powder spilled out. Drugs. I dropped it and went into a panic; I turned and tripped over a loose piece of wood spreading the white powder around the floor. There was no way to hide it, I could be killed. My hands shook as I tried to hide the powder, but it still showed, outside of the shed I erased all my footprints, but I missed some since I was in such a hurry. Drug traffickers would kill me if they knew I was here, then I heard voices getting closer.
I ran back to the truck. Later, I realized something was missing. My dog spray was nowhere in sight. I might have dropped it in the shed and it clearly states it was for a letter carrier on it. I could call the police but snitches usually ended up in a grave and I would be easy to find. I hoped it fell on the street somewhere.
I passed two girls on skateboards, one of them grabbed the bumper of the truck to get more speed. Suddenly, a black jeep stopped in front of me and two men got out. I noticed the black metal of gun handles at their waists. One of them held out my dog spray.
“Did you lose something?”
I looked around. I really didn’t care if they shot me. What did I have to lose? Nobody would miss me, but the two girls on skateboards could be in danger. I ran away from the truck knowing the traffickers would follow me. I heard their footsteps pounding behind me.
I turned the corner and a raccoon I recognized as one that is usually aggressive let me run by, then jumped on the trafficker closest to me. A gun went off and pain shot through my leg and I collapsed. I heard one of the traffickers cry out then another gunshot. I stopped running and looked back. The raccoon was on the ground and not moving. The traffickers walked toward me.
“There they are.” The two skateboard girls pointed at the men. A group of residents flooded into the area, some of them carried bats, some knives, and one pumped a shotgun. It was a stand-off until a siren in the distance got closer and the two men ran away.
One of the skateboarders held a rag to my leg.
“Thank you. What’re your names?” My eyes began to blur.
“I’m Sophie and that’s Melissa.” She pointed at her friend. “You saved us.”
“No, you saved me.” I managed to say. “What about the raccoon?”
Sophie shook her head then I blacked out.
The hospital made me feel isolated, nobody visited me. Why should they? Having a rural a mail route in a small post office limited your coworkers to a minuscule number. I needed
surgery to remove the bullet and would be here a while but will be okay in the long run. The police told me that the traffickers were still on the run and the drugs were gone.
The next day, I heard wheels rolling down the hallway.
“No skateboards in the hospital.” Someone yelled.
Sophie and Melissa came in followed by their parents along with a few other people I recognized as residents of the trailer park.
They handed me a box of cookies and a pile of cards.
“We have a picture to show you.” Sophie handed me her phone, and I stared at the picture then laughed for the first time in years.
“I can’t believe it.”
It showed a group of raccoons under a mailbox. One of them looked like it was eating a sandwich. She added the words, Trailer Park Bandits.
“I think they’re waiting for you,” Melissa said and then she laughed.
I couldn’t stop laughing then I fought to hold back tears. The raccoon that died saved my life. It moved the shooter’s arm just enough to prevent a lethal shot.
“We buried the one who got killed.”
“Thank you. That raccoon was a hero.”
“So are you.”
“No, I’m not.” I wasn’t.
“I’ll save the picture for you. Hurry back.”
They both hugged me and left. I cried for the first time in years, but it wasn’t only because of sadness.
William Falo writes fiction. His work has appeared or is forthcoming in Newfound, Back Patio Press, Vamp Cat Magazine, Elephants Never, Clover & White, and other literary journals.