Things you see in your kitchen after dark

Thursday, 9pm:  A little ways above, at the top of the basement stairs, is the back door of the house. The evening is well into the twilight, almost night, but the deepening grey-blue of the sky still casts a dim, diffused glow through the open door. Heat and humidity hangs in the air.

Making its way towards the door, down the short step out of the kitchen into the small foyer and past the top of the stairs, is the nonchalant, lumbering bulk of a young raccoon.

It moves with a slow, satisfied, unconcerned gait. It probably has a belly full of cat food from the bowl near the sink. It senses movement on the stairs and quickens its exit but, as soon as its tail passes through the door, the raccoon turns to look back inside the house. As the door is slammed in its face, it looks up with the expectant innocence of young child or a career criminal.

Friday, 9:25pm: The small golden cat who sits on the ledge between the foyer and the kitchen is terrified. Her fur looks wrong but that is probably because it’s sticking straight on end. It looks wet with terror. Its markings, the spots and stripes of a Bengal, look darker for it. There must be a raccoon in the kitchen. It looks like there’s a patch of fur missing from the cat’s haunches. Has it been attacked by the raccoon? The cat’s eyes are unusually big.

At the sound of its name being called, the cat darks inside. An investigation of the house reveals no raccoon. If there were one, it is long gone. The cat food container is open. Was it left that way? Perhaps a raccoon had opened it.

Once the door is closed against the return of the raccoon, the cat completely looses its mind. A pursuit through all the rooms of the house ensues. Not unsurprisingly, she doesn’t respond to gentle utterances of her name. After the chase brings the cat up from the basement and into the kitchen once again it is confronted by the other cat of the household, the large black one.

The black cat hisses, ears pulled back. They often half-heartedly spar, but this is a dead serious business. The yellow eyes burn with poisonous hatred under a velvety black cowl. A low growl is working it’s way into a vicious yowling roar.

The smaller cat lunges for the closed back door. Trapped, it looks up pleadingly. Its head looks suddenly too large, its features too male. A glance out the back window reveals that, yes, outside is the actual small, golden Bengal cross who lives here. This panicked feline is an actual Bengal cat; an interloper unwittingly trapped in a strange house.

The door is opened and it flees. It clears the cement pad with a single leap and hits the lawn running. The household cats pursue but only as far as the middle of the yard.

Saturday, 2am: The bin of cat food has been pulled into the middle of the kitchen floor. As the light is flicked on, a flurry of activity scrambles towards the back door. A bushy, striped tail is exiting the kitchen into the foyer where it joins three sets of glowing eyes set in midnight black masks.

The lead raccoon, probably the mother, who was trying to make off with the tub of cat food turns and takes a tentative step back towards the kitchen. The other three raccoons fall in behind with their own tentative steps. In responce to the brandishing of a cheap red plastic broom, they begrudgingly exit the house through the open back door.

The door is closed and locks the chirping raccoons outside on the patio—and locks the stifling heat in.

Sunday, 7:30pm: The sun has barely begun to set when a scratching noise calls the golden cat into the kitchen. The four raccoons from the night before are sitting between the sink and the stove, frozen in mid step. They make eye contact. The broom and a stomping of the feet encourages them to shuffle out the door. They stand on the doorstep waiting for the coast to clear. Yeah, buddy, we’ve got all night. It is not even dark yet.

After more noise and thrusts of the broom, they make for the fence with disgruntled, wobbling slinks. The black cat, who’d been sleeping on the patio furniture, sits up and chatters at them as they plop down on the other side of the fence like bags of loot dropped from a second storey window.

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