Saturday, March 08, 2003

"Marsupials" Written By Tom Schmitt...

I kept hearing this scratching on the roof at night. It was central to the chimney, this weird clawing sound. I think that a family of possums are up there, scurrying back and forth, playing with their food, running in circles, whatever possums do when no one's watching, which is most of the time. I always thought that possums were rather slow creatures, but these bastards were nonstop, like they're drinking Red Bull. It's very annoying. And, of course, it's like they know I'm sleeping, so that's when they're the loudest. Actually, I hardly ever hear them during the day.
Yesterday, I got the grand idea to flush them out. My plan was to go up there with a broom and kind of knock them around a bit, show them who the boss was. This way, they would associate pain with being on my roof, thus, never coming back. (I didn't even think that if I pushed one down the chimney it'd be in my house, thank God it didn't come to that!) I went to the garage and got the broom and a ladder. I set the ladder up on the side of my house and climbed up, walking slowly over the shingles, thinking this way I wouldn't fall into my living room. My next-door neighbor, Mr. Seaver, was in his backyard raking leaves. I waved and said hello, told him "I was rounding up some possums," he laughed and said "good luck, be careful." I got to the chimney and looked around. I saw lots of bird shit, but no possums. Being at the peak of the roof, I stopped walking so lightly, and checked the other sides of the chimney. Again nothing. I then looked down the chimney, but all I could see was blackness. I grabbed the broom and stuck it down the chimmney, moving it back and forth, trying to dislodge something, when it slipped from my hand and fell down the chimney.
Apparently, in most chimneys, there is a bend in the construction, so that the flue is not totally straight. The broom fell about four feet and got stuck in the bend, I could see it's handle resting against the concrete. My first instinct was to say fuck it, and just go buy another broom. I never used my chimney, so I wasn't worried about the thing catching on fire and burning the house down. I started to walk away, but I couldn't do it. I just felt so stupid for dropping it down there. I came up to get those damn possums away, and then they took my broom? Fuck that. I was going to get it.
I turned around, brushed away some of the bird shit with the back of my hand, and pulled myself up a little bit so that I could get a better angle reaching the broom. I stretched my arm as far as it would go, but still couldn't reach it, so I scooted further on the chimney's lip. Again I couldn't reach it, again I scooted. It was at this moment, when I was half an inch away from the end of the broom, that my neighbor yelled, "Ya'll right up there, Sal?" and at that second, straining as much as I was for the goddamn broom, I got so distracted that I fell in the chimney.
I slid past the broom, and luckily I had my hands outstretched, and they helped break the fall when I hit the bend in the concrete. My dumbass neighbor (who probably yelled on purpose for a good laugh), saw the whole thing and also heard my girly yelp as I went down. He called the fire department and they came out and pulled me up by feet. The whole neighborhood ended up crawling out of the woodwork, pointing and gawking. The circus was in town and I was the main event. It took three firemen to pull me out, and they were kind, asking me if I was all right, but aside for my ego being bruised, I only had a few scratches. They watched me climb across the roof and down the ladder, making sure I didn't slip again and, this time, finish the job. Once I was on solid gorund, the firemen roared off in their truck and one by one, the neighbors disappeared. Embarrassed, I trudged inside, plopped down on the couch, and shook my head, wondering how I got this low.
Thankfully, after that day, I never heard the possums again. Perhaps, because I made such an ass of myself, they felt sorry for me and decided to cut me some slack. Whatever the reason, I was glad they were gone. Overall, although it has become a neighborhood myth, I'm not too scarred by the ordeal. I'm just pissed that I still left the fucking broom in there.

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