Tony was shining a flashlight here and there on the dark street for the second time in two nights. He illuminated the plastic garbage can pulled to the roadside for pickup in the morning. A white bag, stacked on two others, peaked above the rim.

He pointed the light toward bushes and brush across the road, then up and down the road itself. He saw no movement.

Tony went back inside. Then a few minutes later, he heard it again. The garbage can was moving, scraping on the cement.

Back outside, he lifted the top back and investigated. The flashlight’s beam was bright inside the can. He could see nothing that would be disturbing it. He replaced the bag and again illuminated the surroundings. He heard crickets and cars in the distance but little else.

Last night, he’d heard an SUV screech. The horn blasted. Then it sped on.

When Tony had looked out the living room window, he saw the raccoon staggering in the road, slowly heading to the opposite side. He’d gone out with the flashlight. He’d found the raccoon on its side beneath a bush, its body expanding and deflating with struggled breaths.

He’d left the raccoon and returned a few minutes later with latex gloves on his hands, an old towel and a plastic bag, along with a twist time. He’d tested the animal, nudging it to see if it would attack. The raccoon had been barely conscious. He’d carefully moved the body to the towel, wrapping it around the raccoon. He’d carried it other side the street. The garbage can, closer the garage door that night, had toppled. The raccoon, he knew, like many nights before, had knocked it over while jumping away from the rim, spilling garbage in the driveway. The raccoon had this time raced away into the SUV’s path.

He’d petted the raccoon as he watched him die slowly. He’d watched his old enemy’s eyes lose life. When his was body was still, Tony had covered his face with a towel corner and placed him in the bag. By this morning, the city had found the bag, and Rocky was gone.

Tony looked more closely beneath the bush, where he’d found Rocky. He knelt and allowed the beam to scan the neighbor’s yard.

The garbage can fell behind him. Startled, Tony stood and shined the light toward the crash. The bags had been shredded. Their contents were strewn.

The flashlight, still scanning all around, found no offenders. Tony heard nothing.

He stood above the mess. He smiled.

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