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It was Saturday. It had been a busy work week; the kind that feels like two weeks. I was dead tired and was lying on my couch, attempting to totally disconnect from the pressures that were piling on. I call this technique; “Playing Dead.”

I could hear my neighbor calling her dog like she always does shortly after she get’s home and then lets him out. “Raymond, Raymond.” Our yards are very close together.

I heard her shriek his name. I’d not heard that tone before. I got up. I could see her dashing around, madly swinging a kitchen broom and jumping frantically. I stuck my head out the door and asked her if she needed help.

This would require more substantial clothing than the summer dress I was wearing. I quickly pulled on pants, long-sleeved shirt, and cowboy boots. I keep these stored by the door. Life occasionally demands protective measures.

I grabbed a can of black pepper and one of chili powder. Prepare to do battle. I had to separate her dog from this intruder. I’d learned this tactic when I had a dog that was regularly attacked by the neighborhood bully-dog.

I ran over and dumped the cans into the face of her dog. His jaws were locked on a possum. Immediately, the dog had to sneeze. I had to reach in and grab the possum away from him. And stay away from both sets of sharp, wet teeth.

I timed it just right. I plunged my right hand into the flying fur balls and came out with the possum. It was either dead or half dead; it was a possum, so I really couldn’t tell.

She grabbed her bleeding little terrier and ran into her house. I could hear her sobbing.

I found an empty potting-soil bag on her deck and a shovel. She’d been out in her yard gardening lately. I shoveled the body of the possum into the bag. I knew where her garbage can was. I knew when it would be emptied next. We’re neighbors. She was still weeping.

Though she is younger than I am, she is a widow. Through her tears, she tells me: It was her anniversary and she was still grieving.  A few years ago, she and her husband had been away on vacation celebrating their anniversary when he suddenly became ill and quickly died.

I was genuinely concerned and listening to her but I was very distracted. I could hear something coming from the garbage can. It sounded like scratching, and then a thump.

At least now, her dog was safe in the house with her. I made up an excuse, so I could depart after I poured her some tea and suggested that she take a shower to get all of the various bloods off of her.When I was able to say good bye and go check on the sound emanating from the garbage can; the can was on its side.

Right up the road, I could see a potting-soil-bag possum scampering up the road.  That cunning marsupial was free. Fooled me; he’d just been playing dead.

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