The violin music from his radio swept over him as he settled back into his recliner in the den. Everything was just about perfect, he thought, smug in his comfortable house. As Summer merged into Fall, he had done everything on his list to get ready for the change in season. His garden was flourishing, his lawn and trees were vibrant, his back deck newly restained, and his view towards the nearby forest cleared away. True, he couldn’t interact with others because of the virus, but still it was near perfect, except for the racoons.
They came at night or early morning when he slept. They dug up his garden a bit, tipped over the garbage cans, slopped water from the watering cans all over, and left their paw prints on the deck and on his windows. It was a minor inconvenience to clean up after them, but that wasn’t what bothered him. What really got to him was their complete freedom from everything, their disdain for convention, and their apparent immunity from the virus. They just did whatever they wanted without reference to the human world around them.
They had adapted perfectly to the situation and it bothered him deeply. They came and went with abandon and they even had their own little face masks provided to them by Mother Nature. They’d been like this for millennia, he mused, and would probably be here after Climate Change battered humanity into fleeing.
A loneliness started to creep over him, a feeling he hadn’t experienced even though his situation certainly would have justified it before now. He looked around and inspected the room he was in. It was clean, neat, well-decorated and lonely, just like all the other rooms in his perfect little home.
He checked his watch. It was close to one-thirty in the morning. He sat still, thought about things one more time, then got up and went to the sliding glass door that led to the deck. He pulled back the curtain just a bit and moved back about ten feet.
He didn’t have to wait long. The motion activated deck light came on about ten minutes later and he could see five of them on the deck. They seemed unperturbed by the light and the big one slowly moved towards the sliding glass door and peered in. There was just enough light for it to see him standing there, ten feet away. For a moment, they stared at each other. Then, the big one got up on its hind legs and put its paws on the glass slider and just continued to look in. Some of the others gathered around him, also looking in.
He didn’t know why at the time, but he took off his bathrobe and let it drop to the floor. Looking back on what he did next, he couldn’t really explain it very well. But he remembered going to the sliding door, opening it, and getting down on all fours next to the big one. The others gathered around him, made soothing sounds for a few moments, and then all of them trundled off together towards the forest.
It wasn’t until his eyes got accustomed to the dark and he got up to the tree line that he saw the others who were waiting and watching, and who like him had decided to change their lifestyle.