The route I delivered mail in a remote area, but COVID still was here. People stayed in their houses and rarely came out, but they ordered lots of packages.
Porch pirates thrived now, and since it was fall, spiders set up webs big enough to catch me, dogs barked and growled at me as approached their houses even though I loved them, and
worst of all the bandits with black masks liked to harass me. Raccoons.
I complained about it, but all I received was a letter saying Erin was out-smarted by raccoons. It was posted on the bulletin board and everyone laughed at me.
I couldn’t afford to quit. Since my divorce, I lived in an apartment and needed this job to survive.
I removed my mask to eat my lunch and a raccoon grabbed the package that I just dropped off. I gritted my teeth.
“Drop it, you stupid bandit.”
I ran toward it holding out my dog spray out. The raccoon joined two others and ran toward the woods. I lost too many packages to porch pirates and got letters of warnings. I would like to add some men who lost packages did not receive any warnings. I chased the raccoons.
I turned the corner and one of the bandits threw a chicken bone and hit me in the eye. I turned and it looked like the raccoon was laughing at me. I covered my eye with my hand.
“You must have rabies?” I yelled out. It hissed when it slumbered away.
The package was gone. Another one lost. I made a partial eye patch out of some paper and rubber bands. I finished the deliveries with my one good eye looking out for the raccoons. The last delivery was for a house on a dead-end street. I didn’t even know anyone lived there, but the car in the driveway was the one I saw the girl get in earlier.
Near the front door, I glanced into the window with my one good eye. A girl was laying on an air mattress with a syringe beside her. It looked like she wasn’t breathing.
I called 911. It would take too long if she was overdosing. The window was open and I pushed in the screen and climbed into the empty room. The girl looked like a lifeless doll, I kept my mask on and tried CPR then glanced at an ID next to her. Her name was Emma. She looked like a teenager.
“Emma,” I said over and over, but she remained still.
The ambulance crew arrived and took over trying to save Emma. Someone ran out the back door. He got a head start, but a girl slowed him down and I gained on him. After a few more minutes, the man dropped the girl, turned around, and pointed a gun at me. I froze and saw my sad life fading away.
The man laughed when he looked at me. “Are you a pirate?”
“Let the girl go. I won’t tell the cops anything.”
His hand shook and the girl moaned and that idea faded away.
“What’s her name?” I pointed at the girl.
“Let her go.” I stepped forward.
“No. I’m not afraid of you. You’re just a minor threat.”
He steadied his hand and his finger twitched. He was going to kill me. I closed my good eye then heard a rustling sound. When I opened it, a blur jumped on the man as sparks flew out of the gun. I dove to the ground and everything became fuzzy, but I crawled forward and grab Hayley then we stumbled away from the scene while the man wrestled with the raccoons. I heard another shot and a searing pain in my leg knocked me to the ground. I looked back and saw a raccoon holding a gun. It sounds crazy, but I swear the raccoon was holding a smoking gun. They saved me, and yet one of them took the opportunity to shoot me. Raccoons are insane.
I limped with Hayley toward the arriving police cars. She wasn’t wearing a mask and that made me worried. When I got closer, some of them pulled guns while others stared in shock. I limped toward them with a drugged girl while wearing an eye patch and with blood pouring out of my leg. I collapsed to the ground when they reached me.
In the hospital, my eye improved but remained circled with a dark bruise. I looked in the mirror and thought the raccoons somehow made me one of them.
A negative COVID test was good news. My leg hurt and was wrapped in thick bandages. Nobody believed that a raccoon shot me, but I knew it was true. I played Animal Crossing and the raccoon in that game ran the town. After my experiences I knew that made sense.
I fell asleep and woke up to a blue wolf trying to catch a fish. I shut the game off.
Emma survived the drug overdose. The police arrested the man and explained away the bite wounds on him as from a stray dog despite what we both said about the raccoons.
On my third day in the hospital, Hayley and her mother used a tablet to do a virtual visit.
“You saved mine and Emma’s life,” she said. Her mother nodded.
“The raccoons helped,” I said.
They looked at each other and shook their heads. “Pain meds,” the mother whispered.
“You’re a hero.” They promised to stay in touch with me. Maybe they would.
On my first day back to work my pockets were filled with cookies, cat treats, and crackers.
I threw the treats out and before long a group of raccoons came out and gobbled them up. We made a truce that day, but they still stole food from me since raccoons can’t help themselves. I believe they are born to be mischievous.
The police never found the gun and I kept expecting to turn a corner and encounter a raccoon pointing it at me. No matter what its intentions are the sight of a raccoon with a gun made me shiver. That would be more than a minor threat.
William Falo studied Environmental Science at Stockton University. His fiction has appeared or is forthcoming in The UK journal Superlative, The Raconteur Review, Train River’s first fiction anthology, and other literary journals.