My Minoan brothers (two of whom I tend to think of as Reynard and Tybalt) gathered together at Tybalt’s place last weekend for a belated Halloween, and it was lovely. Right up until I got savagely assaulted by a rabid opossum.
Granted, I have no proof that the opossum was rabid, and maybe it didn’t “assault” me so much as it chased me around Ty’s backyard, but it was roughly the size of a Volkswagen bus, and it was almost certainly carrying a shiv.
Ty’s yard is long and narrow, and features a kidney-shaped pool and a cozy gazebo tucked into a lush, tropical garden. (He grows all his baneful herbs in a tiny atrium on the other side of his house.) I like to retreat to the gazebo after ritual to ground and decompress, and I was out there taking a few minutes to myself, when I heard a rustling. But I just figured it was a gnome or a faerie or something, so I wasn’t alarmed.
I should mention something else about Ty’s house: It’s not haunted per se, so much as it’s… well, inhabited.
Maybe it’s because of all the Witchcraft he practices there, but visitors regularly catch unexpected movements out of the corners of their eyes, or swear they saw something scoot down the hallway. I once tried to take a picture of his guest bedroom (I wanted to post it on Twitter with the caption, “He’ll probably be in… in the Zen Room,” because I am clever), and when I raised the camera, a small orb of light popped into view and shot across the screen.
I showed this picture to Ty, and he was like, “Yeah, that’s why I don’t like to sleep back there.” I felt very validated, and I was glad he believed me, but I was also deeply concerned that he always puts me in that room when I stay the night.
I may start crashing on the sofa.
But back to the rustling. I was startled when the opossum emerged and trundled across the gazebo steps, but he didn’t pay me any mind, and he disappeared as quickly as he appeared, so I was just like, “Oh, hey. Nature. Neat!” But then I heard another rustling in the bushes to my right, and the opossum crawled up onto the landing next to me.
In retrospect, I’m proud that the strangled, gargling noise that came out of my mouth couldn’t technically be categorized as a scream, but in the moment, I was more concerned with fleeing towards the house, almost smacking into Reynard as he stepped out of the kitchen door.
“OPOSSUM,” I shouted, jabbing a finger at the gazebo.
“Oh, you saw the opossum?” Reynard asked. “He always eats the ritual offerings I leave out. He’s cute.”
“HE IS NOT CUTE,” I countered. “AND HE WANTS TO EAT ME.” Meanwhile, the opossum circled back and scurried down the path in my direction, cutting off my escape route.
“SEE?! HE’S COMING FOR ME.”
“They’re almost blind, dude,” Reynard said, ignoring my plight and settling into a chair as the opossum vanished back into the bushes. “He can’t even see you. Besides, you’re a Witch. Why are you scared of Nature?”
The opossum resurfaced on the gazebo, a few inches from Reynard’s legs.
“Well, it’s a good thing you’re not scared,” I said. “Because Nature’s literally at your feet, Rey-Rey.” At which point he shrieked like a little girl.
“Nature’s too close to me,” he yelled, clambering backwards in his chair. “NATURE’S TOO CLOSE TO ME.”
Alerted by the commotion, Ty wandered outside to determine why his backyard suddenly sounded like the front two rows of a Justin Bieber concert.
“What’s going on?” he asked.
“The opossum is trying to murder us,” Reynard explained, cowering behind me.
[Ed. Note: If you know Reynard in real life, there’s a very good chance he’s reaching out to you right now to claim that this is not what happened. With all due respect, do not believe his lies. He was far more terrified of the opossum than I was, and he was absolutely using me as a human shield. Oh, and he was crying a little.]
The opossum switched course and headed straight towards Tybalt, who seemed unfazed.
“AAAAAAAAAAH!!!” Reynard and I commented.
“What, this opossum?” Ty asked. “He’s harmless. See?”
And the opossum stopped in front of him and sniffed his foot and was like, “Oh, hey,” then decided he was bored with all of us and scuttled off into the night.
Once we made it back inside, Ty started wondering if there was any spiritual significance to seeing an opossum, but the reality is that we live in Texas, where the metaphysical implication of any animal sighting is, “Whatever doesn’t kill you will probably just eat you after something else kills you.” So we let it go and binged some b-rated Witchcraft movies (Season of the Witch and Cherry Tree, respectively).
I don’t know if there are opossums in Boston, and there definitely aren’t any giant flying cockroaches like there are down here, which is a plus. But my dad’s neighborhood is currently under siege by flocks of aggressive wild turkeys, which… I don’t know, y’all. The economy-sized rat alone almost did me in: I’m not sure if I would recover from an angry turkey ambush.
So… yeah. Nature is nifty and miraculous or whatever, but I think I’m just going to continue worshipping it from the safety and comfort of my living room.