Two grey trash cans lay uselessly on their sides, like a pair of beached whales. Their contents were strewn across the grass and the broken pavement of the parking lot. Mr. Big and his crew had struck, again.
Mr. Big was a clever bandit with a luxurious coat that was thick and shiny from his rich cuisine of leftovers, stale cereal, cold French fries, wilted salad, moldy bread, and whatever else he could procure from his nightly raid of the local trash cans.
He lived at the top of a dilapidated brick building. The maintenence man was so busy trying to keep the walls together that he didn’t bother about the extra resident in the attic.
There was an unspoken agreement between man and beast that if given words would have been something like, don’t bite me and I won’t bite you. It was an understanding that lasted long enough for Mr. Big to grow from a ball of fluff into a healthy dog sized creature of 25 pounds or more.
On most nights, Mr. Big organized a gathering party with neighboring bandits to go out foraging, targeting different trash cans on the same city block. He found the greatest success on Sunday when the cans were at max capacity with plastic and paper bags, vegetable peelings, plastic cups and to-go boxes. When the cans were filled to the brim they took more pushing to knock over, but the effort was rewarded without fail. Mr. Big usually took Monday off to digest the massive amount of trash-can-food eaten during the previous night.
For years, Mr. Big was the perfect criminal, growing in confidence and size until one day, two Thursdays again, he made a serious error. Mr. Big lunged out after a snot-nosed kid who had the nerve to throw away a pop can into the very trash receptacle where he was rummaging through a discarded bag of half eaten Rally’s burgers.
I cringed when I heard the story from the kid’s parents without a hint of surprise.
You see, the maintenance man wasn’t the only one aware of the Mr. Big and his movements. I knew. I laughed off the stories about his escapades around the apartments. I listened to the ever exaggerated description of his size and strength. I righted the trash cans and gathered up the trash or asked a loitering resident to do so. Mr. Big was just another familiar face in the area trying to get a decent meal.
But when he messed with the kid, I drew the line and began to gear up for battle.
By Monday, a wire cage was dropped off and baited with an ear of corn to lure the greedy Mr. Big inside and then off to the great raccoon farm in the sky or at least the nearest state park.
Tune in over the next few days to find out what happened.