I’VE GOTTA HAVE A HOME!
By a Mexican Opossum (Oh, and Carol L. Bowman)
“I’ve gotta have a home and quick, since my due date is fast approaching. The 2013 Honda with Mexican plates, which the gringos drove into the driveway yesterday, had real possibilities. My friends told me that this model is quite tasty, the area under the hood makes a comfortable nesting place and the fresh smell of a new car can’t be beat. I considered the Land Rover that I saw parked there for a long time, but I just couldn’t sink my teeth into a foreign plated vehicle. I wanted a Mexican home for my babies.”
What’s this? The gringos are putting suitcases into the back seat and they’re driving away. The lady made my long tail curl when I heard her say, ‘Well, it’s off to Texas to sell the Rover.’ Decision made.
Wasting no time, the opossum lumbered back and forth between the flower box and the Honda, clutching soft bougainvillea petals in her claw-like paws. At the under-carriage next to the wheel, she climbed up and deposited each load onto the motor. Her excitement grew, but bulky engine wires protruded into her nest. No problem, she just chewed them off, sharpening her rodent-like teeth in the process. Ignoring the bitter taste of the fluid that spurted from severed tubes, she gnawed through rubber hoses and used the pliable material to provide extra padding in the mattress.
The opossum could not believe her good fortune. Everything about her new home was clean and shiny; no grease or dirt built-up, no smell of gas or oil. Munching through never used wires and hoses was like chomping on blades of fresh grass.
After a few nights, her mission was accomplished, her nest complete. But a snag in her plan unfolded- the gringos returned without their Land Rover. They jumped into the Honda, as the woman rubbed her hands back and forth in excitement. ‘I can’t wait to drive around in our new car,’ I heard her say. As the man started the engine, he bellowed foul words and the woman began to shriek, ‘Why are all the warning lights on? We’ve never driven it and owned it for only five days! ’
The opossum’s eyes widened. “Oh no, the agitated man is opening the hood. He sees my nest.” Bougainvillea petals started flying, sticks and twigs and pieces of rubber sailed through the air. My home was destroyed with the speed of a tornado. The woman tore at her hair and ranted in a howling cry about the chewed wires. They said awful things about me. A huge truck pulled into the driveway, hooked itself up to the Honda and I watched as the foundation of mi casa was towed away. I decided to remain in the yard for a few days to see if the car returned so I could rebuild my nest.
“Yep, here it comes; it’s back in the driveway.” But the opossum noticed that things had changed. As night fell and her workday began, the mother-to-be crawled to the car’s wheelbase, ready for nest reconstruction. Her long snout drew in the acrid smell of moth balls. As she prepared to scale up to the motor, the intense odor alerted her that this would be no place to call ‘home.’ She sensed that time was running out and she needed a safe place to give birth to her litter.
Frustrated, the ratty looking marsupial with her large belly, sniffed about the yard for a suitable alternative. A red-ripe tomato danced on the end of a hook inside a square open box with iron rails. Hungry, the opossum eyed the fruit and skulked into the enclosure to grab the juicy flesh. She heard a snap, a slam, as the trap door closed behind her. She had no choice, home sweet home.
Her time had come. The opossum started delivering her brood inside the uncomfortable, but protected space. The woman walked into the yard to check on the trap. “Seeing me and my little ones’ hairless legs, tails and bodies emerging from my pouch, she screamed her familiar shriek, only this time it sounded hysterical and frantic. Sounds of Brook Benton’s tune, You’ve Gotta Have a Home, drifted from the window of the gringa’s house, as I looked through the iron bars of mine.”