"Hey, neighbor...can you come here and help me a minute?"
It is, of course, the female half of the Crazy Cat Couple who live next door--the reclusive schoolteachers who harbor a colony of feral cats and who are at war with much of the rest of the neighborhood over various issues.
They are nuts, plain and simple. But they are also my next door neighbors so I need to at least try to stay on decent terms with them.
I go over there and she tells me that a raccoon is on her front porch and it won't leave. Her husband is away for the week-end, no doubt doing something stupid somewhere else, and she doesn't know what to do about the raccoon because it's eating all of the food that she puts out for the cats.
Yeah--the feral cats.
I go up on her porch, and sure enough, inside one of the crates that she's set up as a little house for cats, I see this guy:
The raccoon, for his part, just stared back, showing no desire to leave. But heck, why would he want to go when he's got that nice cozy box with bedding and bowls of cat food placed just a couple of feet away a few times a day?
"Make him leave," she says. "But don't hurt him." She just wants him gone because he's eating too much cat food and the (feral) cats are apparently going hungry.
I tell her that the raccoon is perfectly welcome at my house, but as long as she keeps putting cat food out, he's going to keep coming back.
Still, I made a bit of an effort. I gently prodded it a couple of times with a stick to see if I could get it to go, and I was sort of successful after a minute when it decided to walk away.
I told her that the only way to get it to leave was to stop putting food out here and get rid of all of these cat dens that she's created. She was, of course, totally unwilling to do either. The cats are her babies and her life when she's not teaching other people's kids in the public school system.
Obviously there wasn't much I could do here. I told her that as long as she kept this habitat on her porch, she was probably going to have other critters taking advantage of it, especially with winter coming. Then I turned to go home.
"Simple," I replied. "Either clean up this mess or just enjoy your new raccoon."
And yes, the rest of their house looks like that front porch. Inside and out.
That raccoon definitely moved into the projects.