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Posted: January 13, 2009 6:25 p.m.

What evil lurks? Catfish knows

It was a night of terror I shall not soon forget.

I was sitting on my living room sofa around half past eleven eating a bowl of ice cream and searching for a movie on the cable.

My dog, Catfish, the black Lab, was lying at my feet. Suddenly he arose and broke into a series of yelps.

Catfish's yelps are capable of awakening the dead.

"Timmy's not in the well again, is he, boy?" I asked.

By this time Catfish had bolted to the back door. He was clawing at it in a fever I'd never seen before in this normally placid animal.

My God, what was out there? Had Charles Manson escaped? Was it a group of liberal Democrats coming to set fire to my house? The dog was bonkers.

I certainly wasn't going to go out in the darkness of my back yard to see what lurked there and had Catfish in a frenzy.

I opened the back door and Catfish made the fastest move I'd ever seen him make.

The only other time I'd seen him leap with anywhere near the same resolve was at a pork chop that fell off my plate during a barbecuing exercise one evening.

It began a heartbeat later.

Catfish bellowed even louder. My first thought was if this Charles Manson, he had it coming. My second thought was, if it's liberal Democrats, I've got my own personal pit bull here and didn't need Pat Buchanan.

My third thought was, Catfish has now awakened the entire neighborhood, but what could I do? Next, there came out of the dark pit that was my back yard a bloodcurdling shriek. "WAAAAAACK!" cried whatever Catfish had or had him. There were more yelps and more waaaacks, not to mention hissing sounds.

It wasn't Charles Manson or liberal Democrats.

It was a lion that had escaped from the circus.

Either that or some alien thing with big claws and eyes.

Later I would recall the Jerry Clower story where a fellow climbed up a tree and met some sort of alien thing with big eyes and claws during a hunting trip.

"Shoot this thang!" the fellow cried to his friends.

"We're afraid we might shoot you," somebody said from the ground.

"Well," replied the man in the tree, "just shoot up here amongst us, ‘cause one of us has got to have some relief."

I was frightened.

I have no children. Catfish is my child, my boy, my most loyal friend.

Then a silence fell over my back-yard battlefield.

A few moments later, Catfish came loping up the steps and ran back inside. I could see blood on his mouth, but I didn't know if it was his or that of whatever it was with which he had tangled.

The next morning, I went to my back yard expecting God knows what.

I found a dead raccoon - a large dead raccoon.

I apparently had been trying to eat out of Catfish's food plate on the back porch when it was pounced upon by the rightful owner of the food plate.

So I'm looking for a dead-raccoon-in-the-yard removal service, and I apologize to any of my neighbors who might have been disturbed.

Stephen King probably could write an entire novel based on such an experience. As for me, I'll just end it here and hope for a good night's sleep after the Night of the Killer Lab.

Lewis Grizzard was a syndicated columnist, who took pride in his Southern roots and often wrote about them. This column is part of a collection of his work.


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