Like many people past a certain age, I wake in the night. Before returning to bed, I often have a look out the kitchen window and shine a flashlight across the yard and into the garage. Ten years on, and I still don't entirely trust the automatic garage-door opener. What if it gets some wild notion?
It never has, but last night, the sweep of the light caught movement, a dog-sized shape headed around the big hackberry tree and into the well-lit area between the house and garage. It looked up and I saw the mask before the bulky body, small feet and bushy tail completed the picture: a fat racoon was headed purposefully towards the back door, intent on its errand.
It stopped cold in the flashlight beam, then looked to one side in a way that seemed guilty. Busted! It turned around and trundled back the way it had come, waddling with embarrassed indignation.
I have no idea what it was after. Tam had wheeled the trash barrel to the curb out front after dinner and the local raccoons are still pretty good about staying out of trouble, so that's out unless it was en route to the front to check the weekly buffet.
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