This evening, while talking on the phone with a friend from Chicago, I decided to wander out beyond the terrace to pick up what appeared to be one of the Nearly Perfect Doberman’s stuffed toys, somewhat perplexed by stains on the driveway. As I bent down to pick it up, I quickly discovered that what reposed there was no toy. It was a opossum, better known in these parts as a tlacuache, the ugliest creature on earth. This one was the size of small pig. And I let out a blood-curdling scream, yelling in Spanish at Goodman to run for safety.
We ran for the house, locking the door behind us. And then I contemplate getting a shovel and throwing the opossum out onto the street. That is, until I remembered that creature was not likely dead — and the nearest available implement was down in the workshop. The odds were in the opossum’s favor, and stains in the drive were likely blood.
I then set myself to writing a large note to tape on the door for the gardener’s arrival in the morning, instructing him to buy a can of cat food and immediately embark upon construction of a trap. Tomorrow night’s opossum, if I have my way, will be trapped in a steel barrel. But the opossum likely won’t be killed on these premises, because he’ll find his way to the dinner table of someone in the ‘hood who still believes that its corpus, including the blood, makes for fine dining. Or has some life-enhancing properties. And I’ll set out pots of burning copal near the perimeter of the house to ward off the opossum’s friends and family tomorrow night.
I’ve learned which battles I can fight. You can’t get anywhere trying to fight off a opossum with windshield wipers liked I attempted the summer before last. I’ve been overruled too many times when I pleaded for the menace’s death. When I called the zoo, asking for a referral to help me kill off this beast, I was warned that I’d be breaking some law if I attempted and encouraged to bring the live monster to live out the rest of his days at the zoo. Fat chance I’m going to do that.
People who live in the U.S. are always asking about the dangers of living in Mexico. The press is full of stories like those nasty beheadings off in Uruapan, kidnappings, and marauding bandits. I’m not afraid of those little things. The media never addresses really scary stuff like tlacauches.