I woke up with a sore knee one morning in December. A few months later I aggravated it while mowing the lawn. Physical therapy helped build muscle to stabilize the joint, but overexertion can still annoy it. At its worst it feels like a migraine has decided to forsake the cranium to torment the under side of my knee cap.
Last Sunday it throbbed enough to wake me up at 4 a.m. I tried to adjust the position of my leg. I bent it, straightened it. I lay on my back and angled my foot from one side to the other, and finally rolled over on my stomach. I knew that my neck and shoulders would tie themselves in knots by dawn, but my knee felt better in that posture. I drifted off with face buried in pillow, but the sound of shredding metal woke me up again. The screeches and scrapes came from the side yard near the air conditioning unit, and I wondered if a druggy punk was trying to strip out the copper.
I knelt on the bed to open the blinds, and the pressure on my knee sent a sharp jolt up the leg. I gasped, shifted my weight onto my other knee, and then pulled the cord down to lift the slats. A large raccoon stared me in the eye.
He straddled the chain link fence that meets the house at a 90 degree angle, and his nose was no more than three feet from mine. He must have been making that racket with his claws as he climbed. Now he seemed unable to move. I rapped against the pane to send him on his way as I still had hopes of getting back to sleep. But he just gave me a weary look as if to say, “Hey, buddy. I’m doing my best.”
I saw his point and tried to drop the blinds, but they snagged on one side. I fiddled with them, but couldn’t unsnarl the cord. I gave up eventually and let the slats hang at a crooked angle. I slumped down on my bed, and my knee hurt worse than it had before.
I closed my eyes, but my mind raced with plans to trap the raccoon, put spikes on the top of the fence, call animal control. I thought about all the raccoon jokes on “Parks and Recreation”, including the one where Leslie Knope tells a state commission that Pawnee’s raccoon problem has been solved. She says, “They have their side of town, and we have ours.”
A half hour later I snapped on my light and turned off my alarm. No more sleep for me. “Yippee,” I thought. “A new day.”