Hand Reared Raccoon

I am sick of playing online video games I tell myself one day. It is making my left finger hurt like a bastard, like every time I press the L trigger to aim down sights it is pressing on a nerve over and over making me shudder in torment. I get up and think I should get a pet – not done that before, although often thought of it. I go to turn on my refurbished laptop and the wall socket is fizzing and half falling out the wall cavity but I don’t give it a moments thought. I am twenty years old and whacked out on goof balls.

I go online but what I don’t know is I am getting two meg and paying for eight. But at least I’m on a one month rolling contract, if I ever figure it out. I eat a couple of goof balls as the ancient grey laptop cranks up. Well I’m not getting a bloody budgie or a too cutey cutey pathetic hamster. I’ll get something better like oh I don’t know, a hand reared fucking raccoon. I type ‘Hand reared raccoon Manchester’ into Google and it turns up one result in Prestwich. I click on it and see it costs £1500 pounds and they have them available. Tomorrow is Saturday so I stay up all night drinking goof ball tea researching what they like to eat and what is poisonous to them then at 9:00 am I put on my leather jacket and Sonic the Hedgehog T-shirt, comb my beard and set off to the Metro station.

It is boiling and I shouldn’t have worn my leather jacket but I am embarrassed about my man boobs which are bigger and a better shape (when cold) than a lot of women’s. Not that I know many women but I do see them everywhere, or at least I do when I leave my flat to go to the Sainsbury’s chicken deli counter. Fucksake I don’t even want a goddamn pet – I want to go home and either play Gears of War 3 for eighty hours straight or maybe start a new no coin speed run on my Mario 64 emulator. I am swaying on the edge of the Metro station platform and people are looking at me but I am in too much indecision to care. As the doors open and an old man gets on I follow him with my brain in turmoil.

At the pet shop I am sweating buckets and it feels as if something is on my neck. Something dirty that I need to go and sit in the shower at my dump of a flat (that my Dad won’t set foot in anymore) and let the water wash away the infinite crap of Manchester that is always on my neck. My beard is making me feel even more dirty and greasy. What I don’t know is that since I removed the bathroom window to get more vitamin D, the seventeen year old disabled girl in the house next to my building watches me take showers and baths and has done for months. I have had the same bottle of shampoo in the corner of the bath for three years but I have stopped noticing it, so I certainly don’t notice her moans from above.

I enter the shop and some scallies are looking at rare lizards. I try to go through a door marked private and the massive shop man puts a hand on my chest and shakes his head, but says nothing. I go into the cat room and the small hits me like a tsunami wave. I go into the bird room and the incessant noise fills me with dread. I see hamsters trying to climb the glass of their cages without success over and over, their eyes not seeing me. A parrot has a sign on it’s cage but the words have long since faded.

I go over to the counter and lick my lips and the huge man has his arms folded. A sign next to him says ‘We vet all our customers to ensure our animals go to a good home’ I feel sweat running down my face. I open my mouth and inquire about the hand reared raccoons. Them man’s face lights up ever so slightly in an obscene way and he scans the shop evilly and says they are out back. This sounds grim. We go out a rear door which does not shut properly behind us and go down stone steps which must be two hundred years old. The yelping of unknown animals can be heard. They sound mad and quassi wild taken from the bosoms of both Africa and the teat of their mothers. STFU I tell myself, you sound like a hippie.

Through a strong metal gate and … is that a chimp? Fucking chimps. But I am only half aware of what’s going on. I am nodding along as the man is telling me the price and all the other things I have to buy. He asks which one I want and I say a male one that is healthy and tame. The man’s face cracks a bit and I look at the raccoons. The cage is absolutely filthy with years dirt and small and patches of fur are missing on all three of them as they cower in the far corner. I point to the biggest one and say “That one please” the man brings out a cardboard box and assembles it and squeezes into the cage with it. Noise ensues all around, wild noise of disturbed beasts. These raccoons don’t look very tame as the man grabs the correct one by the shin. He shoves it in box with a hint of violence and I see Slayer tattoos on his back.

Back out at the till area he gets me to fill out a form and it asks me my name, address and email address but I only put my name so that I don’t get bombarded with adds. The man takes the clipboard back and looks at it with a glance and seems happy. I pay the £2300 (I thought it was £1500!) but I have got some extra dusty sacks of food, vitamin D drops and rubber toys etc. I say I have to ring a taxi and the mans grunts and goes out back. I had Googled taxis in Manchester and phoned one of them earlier asking how much back to Stockport and he had said fixed price £22 which the same man confirms now as I ask for one ASAP.

I get in the taxi five minutes later and we head towards the motorway with the Asian driver telling me how he would never let an animal or pet into his home to get near his children. I agree with him saying how dogs can be dangerous. He nods going on to tell me how four men had been stabbed last week in the park that we are passing at ninety miles per hour.

I pay the driver giving him £25 in notes telling him to keep the change “You’re a good man my friend” as he zooms away, some kind of Bollywood music blaring out of his sunroof. I carry the box up and can hear the animal scrabbling about inside. At least it’s not dead.

Into the big converted house, number five in the building my flat is. I open the flimsy main front door that gets kicked in by robbers every now and then (but my door has never subsequently been kicked in luckily for me, but most of the others have.) As I put the keys back in my pocket I think again (as I struggle with the box) how this entire building is subsiding but the owners do nothing, not even when the basement floods flowing into the neighbours basement which is privately owned like every other house on this quite well off road. These neighbours are currently going through the courts on this issue and have been since before I moved in. Everyone on the road hates this house as it looks out of place with burnt out tyre in front garden, falling down garages, very loud rap music from the black man in number six every night at 3 am etc.

I go in my flat and climb over my mountain bike slamming the door behind me. My mattress is not on my bed and I have forgotten why. I put the box down and realise I have left the sacks of food in the taxi. Fuck it. I’ll go and buy some chips or something. I can hear a strange whimpering coming from the box and head over to my stash of goof balls and eat some and smoke a couple sat in my falling apart wooden chair, the only chair in the flat. The goof balls will make the unboxing more dramatic, like I’m living the life. Two hours later I stop imagining myself shooting through the galaxies and go over to the box. I rip it open sniggering in excitement, I can’t wait for it to hug me and feel free in my flat, it’s new home. It just cowers in the rear of the box. Ten minutes later I go to grab it and it goes to bite me as I try to drag it out then it darts past my arm out of the box and runs into the bathroom and climbs up the U bend behind the toilet whimpering in terror. I go back to the box and it is full of piss and shit, which stinks. A trail of it goes through the bathroom. I go and grab a towel and make a half arsed attempt to mop it before turning my radiator on and slamming the filthy towel onto it to dry and somehow miraculously clean itself.

I head into the toilet for which the door has long since come off its rollers and is out back dumped where the fat ugly woman who lives below parks her fat ugly car. The raccoon’s arse is caked in shit and I decide to give it a bath. I run water into the tub and have to wrestle the raccoon away from behind the toilet. I end up throwing it in the water and in terror the animal tries to find a way up the smooth sides but can’t find a way and with the water rising I look on. I look on from above licking my lips a sort of dumb nothing look on my face. The water is now brown and the animal is clinging to the plug chain. Then it realises it may be able to jump and starts leaping in frantic panic, the water still rising. But it is still quite small as probably not fully grown but just about big enough to easily make it if it gathers itself together enough. I feel mad at it for not appreciating the bath or remembering it can jump higher. It’s attempts at jumps are pathetic. I go and put some toast in the toaster and can hear it still in the bath. Oh yeah should have turned the tap off maybe. Just wait for the toast to pop up so I can put it on a plate to cool. Then I go back in and the raccoon is back on the chain almost resigning itself to its fate. It’s face is just above the water and it’s arms are shaking. So I grab it and grip it to my chest making soothing mother noises as I carry it into my living room which is also my bedroom. I put it down and it collapses in a heap and it is clearly too exhausted to stand. It just lies there shivering and breathing in uneven rhythm.

I put my mattress back on my bed and then looking out of the top half of the side window (the bottom half is boarded up – must remind landlord again of this) I see the black neighbour man’s car pull up at speed to the space outside where he parks it. 50 Cent is booming out as usual (I had heard it from the end of the road) and he will have my goof balls, or he better have. I wait for him to get into his flat and I do this while pinning the raccoon down onto the floor buy it’s neck making it screech in a tone that makes me feel sad in a way that makes me hate myself intensely but I just keep pressing harder and herder wanting to love it and for it to love me and be as intelligent as a human and chill with me and watch films. It is trying to turn it’s head to bite but I am stronger and it is still wiped out and I feel repressed energy flow through me, my mind blanking out as I continue to press. The animals breathing becomes raspy it’s eyes staring nowhere.

Then the door opposite can be heard opening and my door goes KNOOCK KNOCK KNOCK. I get up and slide the animal under the table where my router is “stored” in a jumble of wires, its green lights blinking. I shove my bike out the way with unnecessary violence and open the door. The man has the packets of goof balls held out and I take them and hand over the £30 and he says “Yeah Yeah.” and goes back into his flat. I will no doubt hear him have a bath shortly.

I make it a bed out of a box and place the it inside. I cover it with a towel but it is not moving much. I stand above it with my hands on my hips. Hmmmm maybe I should go and get it some food, so I head out and walk to the Chinese, as I do every night. Crispy noodles, egg rice and chips I ask the ugly Chinese girl who I fancy and she looks at me with hatred and I head home.

The hand reared raccoon is sitting on my bed when I get in, or should I say ‘shitting’ on my bed. The whole flat is very warm and humid with raccoon shit already in the air with the heat on full. It is always humid in here due to the flooding basement and my clothes are always damp and smelly and the walls are badly covered in mould, but now it seems worse. I do not turn the radiator off and go and get the cleaning towel off the radiator and try to clean up with the animal avoiding me. The bed is caked in shit, I have just rubbed it in and made it worse. I slam the towel back on the radiator and go and chase the animal not knowing what I will do if I catch it. I chase it all around and the neighbours above are making the hideous banging as usual that I have never figured out the cause of.

I eventually corner it in the darkest corner of my slum of a kitchen (floor covered in black sticky stuff and vinyl tiles peeling away everywhere.) The fridge door is now open but that is ok as it is broken and empty. My brother came round last week and was visibly shocked that there was nothing but yellow slime in there. I grab the animal not knowing what to do, hanging it upside down pinching it a bit. So I pin it down again this time with both hands.

RIGHT BACK TO SCHOOL MAKING ME SICK.

All I can remember is being so indescribably elated and happy that week and after school in fifth year that day trying to step over the threshold of her house in love my hands clasped very nervously in front of me hearing her blue pet budgie that she talks about all the time but then her rushing at me screaming “GET OUUUTTT” me going home in desolation.

But I love her very much in my dreams.

Some time later I awake and find myself on my bed with the raccoon curled up on my chest, sound asleep. I can hear the Iraqi man who lives in the attic running up and down the stairs outside my flat again. He stands outside my door and I sweat as I wonder if this time he will finally knock. I carefully get up and go to stand at the door. But is he really there? I don’t trust my senses anymore as I know for certain that I see and hear things that perhaps are not really there, or not as I perceive them. For example I could not tell you what the pattern on my curtains look like if you asked me – they seem to flow like liquid like some Aborigine cave painting. The mad Iraqi seems to not be there now, just silence.

Three days later there is so much shit in my flat that I am filling my bath with it. I throw the animal in the tub and shout at it “Look at all your shit you little fucker, Oh God what the hell have I done this time.” I moan. Then I pull my cock out and start pissing on the cowering creature. Plants are starting to grow in corners of the humid room in the manure gathering there. I am destined to never remove any of them.

I pick the animal out the shit bath and fling it across the living room, luckily it’s arms do not break as it hits the wall. I kick it (why kick it?) into the front door area and then decide it would be happier if it could see more of the world so without thinking how terrible the idea is I open my flats door just as the fat lesbo and her stunning lover who live two doors down are coming up the filthy stairs (my bikes tyres much to blame). They both scream as my new pet gallops over to then and attacks them. He bites their ankles and jumps up at them savagely scratching with his claws and I am shouting “GET OUT GET OUT GET OUT”. I realise I have never even given it a name. The young women’s blood is on the carpet but the animal has seen the front door ajar at the foot of the stairs and runs for it. The women are crying and screaming and their arms are in bloody ruins but they manage to enter their flat. I say sorry to their closed door and go to stop the raccoon getting too far away. Luckily it goes the wrong way, left, and this means that unless it can get over the concrete walls I will capture it. It takes half an hour to pin it down and, exhausted, I pin it to my chest just as the police arrive.

As there is no law against owning a hand reared raccoon (I assume) and as the girls (who are now at the hospital) are not insisting on destroying the beast, the two policemen leave quite soon with no further action. Afterwards I watch their car leave out of the window above my bed (making sure I don’t touch the window as the frame is rotten and I am lucky it doesn’t fall down in the night and chop my arm off). I head out to the Chinese.

A while later after tea I lift Raccoon to the window sill and pin it there explaining that it isn’t a wild animal – the cats would eat it in five seconds if he got out. Our silhouettes in the curtains reflecting my cruelty unbeknown to me for the next two hours for all to see. Simply pinning it down by the neck with force so it can’t breath properly the noise of the lesbo and her lover screaming in sexual carnage down the hall doing God knows what to each other.

Days later I decide to declaw him so it can’t repeat the attack (at least by using his claws.) So I grab my pliers and bacon scissors. I make a bad job of it. Very bad in fact – cutting too low down into the quicks of the claws and Raccoon is in agonising pain as I have him pinned down, pliers in hand, blood shooting everywhere. The screeching and bleeding goes on all evening and all night.

Later at about 5 AM we watch a nature programme on TV with the raccoon on my wooden chair and me on the floor. The programme, remarkably, is about raccoons in the wild and I feel a bad parent as my raccoon has no other raccoons to play with like the ones in fucking Madagascar or wherever they live. I am worried my very own pet raccoon curled up on my chair will be watching and getting sad. But really it is just licking his claws and the bleeding wounds I inflicted by whipping it with the kettle cord earlier. And anyway the picture on the TV is so bad due to it being on one of those crappy portable indoor aerials, that you can hardly make out what is going on.

Later I take it to the golf course in the shit filled box that I had brought it home in two weeks ago. I let it out feeling some ways peaceful but some big black dogs being walked attack it so I have to chase him half way across the course until I somehow corner it on the Ninth and take him home.

Back home I see that he is dirty and he is hot so I dump him on the kitchen table which has seen no semblance of normality for a while now and go and fill up one of those plant water spry bottles I have in the flat for some reason. I go back to the distressed animal on the table and start squirting it. Does it seem to like it? Maybe. Anyway I keep going back to refill the bottle and keep spraying it until it is drenched and heavy with water and soon he falls off the table shivering, it’s small brain not knowing what is going on, and I lift it back on continuing to spray, then it tries to move again but he’s probably traumatised by the dogs and it falls off again and I keep spraying. I see that it’s shit encrusted backside is septic and infected under the layers of shit. It keeps falling and I keep lifting it back up until I realise it is near to death and something stops me.

That night things happen with the raccoon ending up tied up with Sellotape in the bathroom sink, but I can’t remember it all.

A couple of days later the raccoon is licking further wounds I inflicted with something heavy I must have hit it in the face with and something sharp I stabbed it with in the neck and ribs – I think that was a kebab skewer. I am online looking for a job. There are a lot of ads for ‘Tele sales’ must be a lot of people need TVs I think in vague puzzlement. I apply to be one of those men on green drivable lawnmowers that work for the council rolling around cutting grass in parks and on embankments next to footpaths.

I am dozing in bed, I don’t know where Raccoon is. I think of the Iraqi man again; if he ever knocks and I answer and we look at each other (I think breaking out in a sweat again) then Hell will be confirmed as simply myself looking inwards at myself in a sort of timeless vortex, so I must just go through the moment with the meaningless faces KNOCK KNOCK KNOCK and then when I die the Devil leading me away telling me that I am indeed evil as I have always wanted and pointing to a point of brilliant light of in the distance and I look at it in eagerness, but then the light is extinguished and I with it to go the same place as before I was born … and then the Devil will be left and a beautiful woman in white robes will appear scratching at her white upper thighs like she’s stroking a pussy in Hell and the Devils grizzly eyes will glint with an unknowable hatred and he will look upwards and shoot upwards and away, his four foot sword in his hairy hand as he disappears into the infinite black.

The next week I decide to give the little bastard another bath. The flat is in chaos, food everywhere, all the carpet torn up and pilled unevenly at the foot of my bed, curtains permanently drawn and I didn’t get that job and have no money left but Mum is not answering her phone or replying to emails. I had emptied the bath of shit scooping it out the window with half a Corn Flakes box (my new technique for dealing with some of the shit). I was zoning out on one goof ball but I managed to fill the tub with water. I find myself with the animal in my grasp and I dump it in the water. I had put an empty Evian bottle for it to cling to as a life raft. I stand up hearing it begin to struggle and make awful, helpless noises. I wonder what my neighbours think. However I fully zone out standing on the floorboards of the bathroom up above the tub staring at the dirty wall. Soon I look down to see the raccoon face down under the water and he is hardly moving. The water is almost still. I watch it a few more seconds then reach down and lift it out.

I lay it on the mattress (feeling distressed now) which is back on the floor again and start to give mouth to mouth resuscitation. He is moving a bit more now and trying to breath every twenty seconds or so, but his eyes are not blinking. For the next six hours this goes on with me giving mouth to mouth and the poor animal slowly dying. Eventually I give a wail and breath an extra big breath into him but this results in watery shit coming out his backside – his lungs must have closed up and I had pumped his intestines with air like a balloon. Eventually he is dead, no doubt about it, and by morning his eyes have caved in and juices are coming out.

Two days later I take him to a piece of wasteland behind some horse fields and cover him with some rocks.

Back home without any thought or hesitation I hang myself from the banister in the communal staircase until dead with a dirty, oily, old thick rope that I had found in the garage round back.

I found myself in a place of happiness and adventure just beginning. I felt years older and in my arms was my pet raccoon; he forgave me! He licked my face and hands! Ahead in the green grass near the mysterious trees were more raccoons playing in a small pond. I started laughing with my chest filling with the light of angels and I put him down and set him free forever. He bounds away looking back in joy and behind me a mesmeric voice not heard for years crying “Fly away, fly away Pete you are free.” and as I turn I see a blue budgie darting ecstatically away into the white and blue sky out of beautiful arms.

THE END

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