Summer of the Raccoon
by Rachel Yoder
Adam was an all-American swimmer with broad shoulders and a V of stomach muscle that pointed down into his drawstring pants. He had acorn-colored skin and a buzz cut bleached white by chlorine and sun. He drove a brand new cherry-red Firebird. Adam lived in an expensive house, and his parents were never home. They were busy making money to pay for the expensive house and for Adam’s Firebird and for the three thousand thread-count Egyptian cotton sheets on his bed. She and Adam ate ice cream sandwiches from the freezer and then roller-skated around the basement. In the basement, they turned on the treadmill, and then got on in their roller skates. After that, they went back to his room. He sat in his ergonomically-engineered chair and said, stroking the armrests, It’s like astronaut sex when you do it in the chair.
That day, on the way home, she hit the first one. Near the curve by the graveyard, a raccoon scurried from the underbrush and right into her tire. She hadn’t meant to hit it and, afterward, she stopped the car, put her head on the steering wheel, and cried. She told herself that there was nothing she could have done. She told herself that it wasn’t her fault.
Adam told her: the retarded brother did it with his retarded sister, and everyone says they used a baggie and a twisty in that way. The brother did it with the sister, and they liked it. Every year they are so happy working in the cafeteria at lunchtime, washing pepperoni chunks and pea juice from the plastic trays. They are so happy when the basketball hero talks to them. He says, Hey you disgusting fuck, here’s something for tonight, and hands him a plastic baggie. The whole table of basketball team laughs, and the retard is so happy to have the plastic baggie that the hero gave him. He is so happy to clean their trays, Adam said. He said, Come on, retarded sister, then kissed her neck.
She told Adam: Brittany watched her boyfriend blow his brains out. He was cleaning his gun in the rec room. After that she wore his thick gold bracelet and thick gold necklace and his single diamond stud in her ear. She got a special hole jabbed in her ear for that stud. You don’t put jewelry like that in the grave, she told us. So she wore it. She loved that guy, and they did it multiple times. Everyone thinks she was the one who really blew his brains out, she said. No one even saw her cry. I’ll make you cry, he said. I promise, he said, and that’s when he put his hand up her t-shirt.
After the second one, she paused longer than normal at a stop sign, staring blankly into the distance for a few moments. She was alone, without a passenger. No one to witness the death. She didn’t have anyone to corroborate she wasn’t killing them on purpose, that this was innocent. Truly, it was as if her car emitted some scent or vibration that drew the raccoons to her undercarriage. She would just have to get used to this, she told herself.
He took her to a sun-scorched hillside on the outskirts of town. His tongue was surprisingly cool as she stared at the construction paper sky. Their bodies slid across one another, sweat forming, then running, then pooling where her body gave. He took her shirt off, her bra. His shirt. They kissed and slid over one another, Adam working his hands, the yellow weeds embossing her back. He kept taking off her clothes, his. Peeling things. She kept her shorts on. What are we even doing? he said, performing these sorts of push-ups over top her. Push-ups, his arms working, sweat dripping off his nose. He pressed himself into her, hot like a brick, and over his shoulder, that’s when she saw them—two raccoons at the edge of the woods.
There was Bob Marley and the lake. Coconut skin and smooth legs brushing hairy legs. And sun, perfect breasts, handfuls of biceps. Gum wrappers, flip flops. Fresh-washed cars that winked at her. Shining hair that brushed across the top of her perfect ass. She now referred to it as my ass. Adam liked this. Adam liked lots of things.
(Her dad said: That Molly Malone. Isn’t she something? Last summer, when I painted her porch, did she ever carry on. Brought me lemonade and just wanted to hug me. Did she ever hug me. I liked that Molly. Isn’t she something? She’s sure something.
Her mother said: slut.)
She said: Debbie did it with her skinny boyfriend, and we’re meant to think it’s disgusting except we don’t know why. Her big boobs flopped like water balloons when she jumped on the trampoline in gym. And all around it we stood while she laughed hysterically. Jen Drinko kept loud-whispering, Up the ring ding! Up the ring ding! And we all said, Disgusting, and then Debbie was loud-laughing like something crazy, which we didn’t understand. And that’s when Adam went, his arms crossed and looking that way, Heh, heh. Up the ring ding indeed.
There was a pool, a party. There was the bathroom and a red heat lamp flooding them in red light. There was Adam’s freshly pierced lip, the stud driven through by his own hand. There was blood. There was her ass in the sink, his hips between her legs. Her cool bathing suit, her wet hair. His damp trunks and hardness. There was kissing, his lip in her mouth. Metal and blood in her mouth. It was hot in the bathroom under the heat light, and summer, and nothing happened although it could have, even though, honestly, she wanted it, wanted it even though she wasn’t sure what it was. He took her hand, pressed it into him. He said, Here. He said, Here, and then tossed her hand, a thing, back at her. Then there was him considering her considering him. There was a moment of nothing, and then there was a night of it.
Adam called her. He said he was getting back together with the girl he’d had astronaut sex with. After the phone call—in that long afternoon after the phone call—her mother asked her, It’s only been two weeks, why are you crying so much? She said, I really liked him. Later, she whispered to herself in the solitude of her bedroom, That fucker (fucker she lingered on, liking the feel of it now, pressed against her teeth). That fucker, she said. I liked him.
The next few she drove over with minimal swerving. She was giving in to their willful deaths. In her rearview mirror all she ever saw was a clump of hair. Blood. She rolled over them and didn’t regret it. You could say that now, however accidentally, she killed them without pause.
Her dad said: I woke up and heard something in the garage. I got up and went to see what it was, and there was an adolescent one eating the cat food. It was cornered, and it was getting mean there in the corner. I got mad and grabbed a two-by-four sitting there, and I beat the thing. It was vicious. And I beat it to death.
(Her mother whispered: slut. This is the word she gave to her daughter.)
After that, they were crawling the countryside, finding their way nearer her, her heat. And before they could descend on her, she descended on them. She started plowing through them on purpose, devouring them, her teeth set on their necks. In the end—by the end of that hot, musky summer—scores were dead. The first, as she dug her hips into the fleshy velour of the half-bare, hard-backed bucket seat and wrecked the interior. The last, secretly, on her parents’ bed.