Once upon a time, there was a raccoon named Rocky. Why don’t I let him tell the tale himself.
Hello, I’m Rocky. My mother named me that because she said I’m a fighter. One afternoon, I found myself resting on the warm grates of a drainage pit outside a really big church. I was getting the morning sun on the east side. Well, this fellow they call Mr. Z came out and he had a noose out as though he wanted to catch me. I started to panic. I saw a hole in the grate and went tumbling down inside. I finally landed at the bottom. I thought, “Now what can I do?” Mr. Z looked down into the grate and he talked to me. He said, “Pal, I can’t lift this grate, but I’ll see what we can do.” He made me feel better.
Now I heard that on the next day, which was Sunday, the pastor lady asked for volunteers to help after church to rescue me. She wanted four strong men to lift the grate. I was excited, but they didn’t come right away. First, I heard a choir singing with such power they made the walls of my hole vibrate. Then there was another service with jazz music. I could hear the music coming through the grate, and it put me in a mood to dance. I thought of my good friend, Rebecca the Raccoon.
Then, all of a sudden, a bunch of people appeared. Sure enough, there were four strong guys who put ropes around the heavy grate and lifted it up. The people around the hole sighed with relief. But that was nothing compared with the sound I made. I was SO relieved.
Pretty soon, I heard the clanging of a ladder they had put down the hole. Sure enough, there was that Mr. Z guy coming down the ladder with a big box that looked like a cage. He talked softly to me and tried to put the noose around my neck. But I flipped it off because I didn’t want to go into a cage. That was worse than the hole. He kept talking to me more and more softly. I was getting drowsy. All of a sudden, he put the noose around my neck. I screamed bloody murder. At this time, he put me into the cage and locked it up and started up the steps of the ladder.
I don’t know if I mentioned this before, but this guy Mr. Z is a really skinny guy. Kind of old because he has a white beard just like Joe Maddon. He wasn’t making it up the ladder when his buddy, Paul Jensen, pulled him up by his britches. I went along, too. Everybody on top was smiling and taking pictures. Maybe they never saw a raccoon before. So Mr. Z put me into his truck and said in that same low voice: “Don’t worry, pal. I’m taking you to a really fine place.” After a while, he stopped, and I could almost smell the woods. Sure enough, that’s where he let me out. He whispered to me, “Stay out of trouble,” and drove away. I smiled and thought to myself: “Maybe Rebecca’s in the woods here. If so, we’ll live happily ever after.”
The lesson from this story: If you get yourself into a dark hole and feel all alone, find yourself a church and there will be friends to help, a pastor to pray with you, and SOMEONE who will listen.
Joan Arteberry is a longtime resident of St. Charles. Write to her at firstname.lastname@example.org.