Jesse Jarnow

the animals i saw, no. 3

(Short fiction in shorter increments.)

The Animals I Saw: no. 1, no. 2, no. 3, no. 4, no. 5, no. 6, no. 7, no. 8, no. 9, no. 10

There was a Pink Floyd song that once scared the shit out of me, which I remembered exactly as I saw the raccoons. There were three of them, I think. Even without the deck light, I could see their eyes reflecting. I didn’t know anything about raccoons at the time. My mind turned to static, expecting chaos.

I’d heard the song on the radio — in junior high school, when Dad had taken the job in Omaha — very late at night. “Then something happened,” a robotic voice, a representative of the animals, claimed. “We learned to talk.” I lay there, terrified of the violent nonsense that would ensue. As I faced the raccoons, I imagined their robot voices: high, electronic squeals pitching torrents of dada.

I started to slowly ease the kitchen door closed behind me, and the raccoons scattered. There was a tree hanging over the deck. I imagine they went up it, though my eyes had not yet adjusted. The door creaked as I opened it again. The Becketts’ house could use some work, I thought. The addition behind the kitchen was being destroyed by humidity, threatening to pull apart like a rogue continent eroding. If they were not careful, it might even sail into the lake, like our house did.