Raccoons are funny, even cute in their Lone Ranger faces when you catch them rummaging through the trash you neglected to bungee down securely, even as you run at them with your witchy broom, and they waddle away slowly, sated.
Clowns, on the other hand, are frightening with their fake happy faces and big feet and lots of frothy red hair made out of string. Mimes are a close second. Maybe it’s all that white-face?
At the Halloween party, who is that masked man? Who pretends to know me, to ask me to dance or buy me a drink? Who is sidling away?
Then there are bank robbers, in their pulled-up bandanas, or ski masks. Are they for real, or playing badass with the pandemic? Should I cross the street, or wave hello? Not wanting to offend.
Who wants to piss off a mugger, a stalker, a predator? The Masque of the Red Death or death itself, and what about the ones with the grinning Joker face, humorous or hostile?
And those awful times you forget your mask, walking the dogs, like normal times, until you realize the one strangers are glaring at is you, and you turn away, ashamed, risking traffic, not to offend, to infect.
And the stories about people who cough on babies or push security guards to the floor in the grocery aisle because Bygod! it’s their constitutional right not to wear a mask!
Give me a raccoon doing what it does in the garbage can any day. Safe and predictable. Making the kind of mess I can do something about.
has writing published or forthcoming in Beautiful Cadaver Social Anthology (a Camp fire anthology), Gyroscope, Painted Bride, Rise Up Review, Solo Novo, The Marin Poetry Center Anthology, and Writers Resist, among others. She is the author of four published chapbooks, the most recent from Finishing Line Press (2020). In the 1980s, she edited the eclectic literary magazine Turkey Buzzard Review in Bolinas, California. She now runs political campaigns for progressive candidates (mainly women), practices environmental law, and lives in Marin County, California with her husband and two dogs.