I get into work one 8AM and the first non-goodmorninghowareyouohgood conversation I actually have involves a masked bandit at large within the building.
Apparently a raccoon had been huddled up on the back of a trailer while the driver waited for the warehouse to open, and when the bay door opened, enter the raccoon.
In my head I think of names to give the visitor. I come up with He With Mask That Sees Too Much—Seetoo for short. I have always had issues with naming animals anything Anglicized. It just feels like removing something so unhuman too definitely from its natural origin. And maybe that’s why people are so comfortable naming their dogs things like Robert. The nature’s already bred out of the species. It’s a genus of house lounging tail waggers. The bored, privileged, and vicarious expect that at an early age these quadropedals’ urine will hit target in sections of subscription weekend literature spread over ceramic tile.
Raccoons don’t have such luxury. Rather, they are sneaky scavenger types that will take what they can get. Their incessant hand washing—if not a habit of innocent cleanliness—is a Lady Macbethian ritual of residual guilt from taking that which is not theirs. Despite their frantic efforts, what outs them are actually their perpetual masks—dead giveaways that pin them to all of their perverse hooliganism. We see right through these veils and find all the overturned and rooted through trash cans of back alleys, rabid fights with domestic cats, and the scratched noses of our overly spoiled dogs.
I think that if not on a similar venture of devious territory infringement or basic espionage, Seetoo might be here to seek forgiveness for his kind. Other warehouse employees suggest to me he’s here to make a new life; he’s looking for a new home. It’s popular opinion in the warehouse that this is a place where people go to die, so it’s overwhelmingly ironic to hear this coming from some of the lifers.
I can’t say if Seetoo knew this, but within seconds of his infiltration, the hunt was on. Despite any plans he had to stay here—any fixation he had on becoming reborn as He Who Walks With The Two Legs—forces were at work to send him to another place, and they swore by the temporary duration of his stay: limbo was a book warehouse.
An hour into the workday and with enough thoughts in my head to fuel all of the words you’ll have read up until now, I’m informed that the masked miscreant has been spotted and surrounded under a wooden skid in the shipping bay. I go over to watch the scene unfold and there are four of my coworkers approaching the skid, each with a large piece of plywood in hand. They continue approaching until they have the skid boxed in, and Seetoo is trapped without a hope of escape.
I wonder if raccoons get claustrophobic.
Next, the sheets of plywood are replaced with strips, and a sheet is slid under the skid while another gets placed on top.
This is pest control.
Nails are driven into the skid with a hammer and claws scratch heat-treated wood.
In Nakon Nayok, Thailand, they still practice Buddhist resurrection rituals, and hundreds flock to temples to be reborn. You lay in a coffin, casket shut, while monks surround you and chant death rites. When they finish and commence chants of new life, you have been cleansed. You’re innocent again. Unsoiled.
When the strips and sheets of plywood are done being nailed into the skid, my four coworkers lift it up into the air and each one shoulders a corner. In polebearer fashion, Seetoo is carried out of the warehouse in his square coffin and set free from his box.
He might have come to the warehouse in search of new life, but as tried lifer wisdom would have it, he had to go through death to get there. Seetoo emerges, from the skid for the first time, and I notice that he can’t be much older than a baby. Maybe he really was reborn. Or maybe his masked mama was bad at parenting.
By Tom Beeham
01. Your House
05. Falling Up
06. Got It
07. Lose This Child
09. Voice Over
12. Mystical Lady