Hank eyed the possum.
Ms. Possum eyed Hank.
Hank looked around to make sure his retreat path was clear.
Ms. Possum didn’t look around. She was backed into a corner of the deck.
Hank didn’t look happy.
Ms. Possum didn’t look happy. Ms. Possum sneered showing rows of sharp, white teeth.
Hank swallowed hard and gripped the broom tightly.
“I’ll just nudge her out of this corner and she’ll trot over to the steps and down the deck?” Hank meant that to be a confident statement of intent and purpose, but, his voice raised an octave or two, it came out a question.
“You go, girl, I mean, Hank,” I offered from a safe vantage point. I wasn’t going to mess with a cornered possum. I was content to go inside, close the door and turn in for the night knowing that Ms. Possum would be long gone in the morning.
Not Hank. Ms. Possum must go. Now.
“They don’t bite, do they?”
“Only when cornered or provoked, Hank, and by the looks of things you’ve got two-out-of-two.”
I decided to turn up the heat a little, “They can jump 15 feet and run 40 miles an hour. They can outrun a horse, you know.”
“No, I didn’t know,” Hank replied uncertainly, “Maybe if I just nudge it a bit it will get the hint.”
Gingerly, Hank offered the broom to Ms. Possum as if he were selling it.
“Good evening, Ms. Possum! Could I interest you in this Fine Broom? Yes, indeed, it’s a Fine Broom and a Fine day for Sweeping. A fine day for sweeping, yes m’am!”
Ms. Possum grinned at the prospect of a new broom. Why, she nearly split her face in two she grinned so wide. As her mouth grew larger from furry ear to furry ear, her lips pulled back in a rigor mortis expression exposing rows or razor sharp, pearly white teeth, moonlight reflecting in dripping saliva. Her eyes became large, sparkling, obsidian discs. Raising up on her legs, her fur standing on end Ms. Possum expressed her appreciation of the Fine Broom by exhaling a great sigh, her eyes becoming larger, her grin even wider.
“Gaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!” exclaimed Ms. Possum.
“Yaaaaaaaaaaaaahhh!” exclaimed Hank.
Suddenly, Hank forgot the rest of Salesmanship 101, “Closing the Deal” and beat a hasty retreat. Stage Left. He shot through the cabin door and closed it with a slam. Snick! The door locked.
Safe inside Hank returned the broom to the cupboard and joined us for some coffee by the fire.
None of us spoke for a while.
Finally, Hank observed, “That possum was pretty scared, poor critter.”
We sipped our coffee.
Hank continued, “I figger the best thing to do is let it calm down and we’ll deal with it in the morning. When it’s calmed down, that is.”
And with that Hank checked his watch, mumbled something about having to get up in the morning, long day, things to do, and shuffled off to his bunk.
After Hank settled down and we heard snoring noises, I gathered up a banana, part of a granola bar and some grapes, and put them in a small dish.
I went out on the deck. Ms. Possum was still backed into the corner licking her hind foot. Her tail twitched lazily.
I put down the bowl of food, and peeling the banana, ate half of it while Ms. Possum dived into the grapes.
“That ‘Gaaaaaaaahh’ thing was brilliant,” I said, “you really had old Hank going.”
Ms. Possum looked up, grape juice dripping off her pointy little chin and wheezed a little possum-laugh, her shoulders hunching up and down in mirth.
We chatted for a while, and then I said my ‘good nights’, went inside, and turned out the deck light.
Ms. Possum finished her snack, washed out the bowl, and took the granola bar home to surprise the kids. And, she had a tale to tell.
Didn’t we all!