I can’t help it. Critters, who live on my farm, sneak up on me when I least expect them. When they do, what they do is so unusual that I have to tell somebody and hope they believe me. No, it’s not flying saucers, or ghosts, although I have seen a ghost or two. It’s Rocky. That’s what my daughter named him when I told her my story. Rocky is a young raccoon. By his bold-as-brass attitude, and small size, Rocky’s probably not more than a teen-age Raccoon. He’s not yet learned to be careful or fearful of humans or other animals. Here’s how I discovered Rocky. Early yesterday morning, Cleo, my indoor cat, waked me by walking on my head. She came from her sleeping spot on the far side to let me know it was time to be up and useful. It is her never-fail way to tell me she’s ready to go outside and play. It was getting light so up I got. When I was dressed I opened the sliding glass door and Cleo and I went out to the porch. I watered my three potted plants; my fig tree, my Kale bush, and my tomatoes. I filled the water bowl and Outdoor-cat, Calico’s, metal Kitty bit dish. Ready to go back in and start writing, that’s when, in the grey darkness of early dawn, at the far end of the porch, I saw Rocky. The small gray and white, pointy-nosed critter waltzed up to Calico’s kitty bowl and began to have breakfast like he was a boarder and paid rent. His manners were neat. Rocky used his fingers to pick each Kitty bit and he studied it before eating. But he was hungry. Giving way to appetite, he changed to both paws and still using his fingers, he emptied the metal dish as I watched. The missing Ceramic Cat Bowl, which I was forced to replace with a metal dish, is important to my story. Last week the original ceramic Kitty Bowl disappeared. The mystery of its vanishing haunted me. I looked all over the front yard and the driveway. I even searched the ground beneath the row of shrubs that line the porch thinking some animal, in its eagerness to eat, pushed the Ceramic bowl over the edge of the porch. I found nothing. I recalled, before the Ceramic Bowl turned up missing, someone, other than Calico, had been busy gobbling up all the kitty bits I put on the porch. Now that heavy Ceramic Bowl, which weighed half a pound, was gone. Putting two and two together, I thought, ‘Some large animal carried it off thinking it was a magic bowl that, magically, was always full of kitty bits.’ This morning, fixing the water hose at the back of the house I discovered the answer to the mystery. As I rested from my labors, I happened to glance at the sidewalk at the corner of the house. Ten feet away on the sidewalk lay the missing Bowl. Some animal had carried the Bowl a hundred feet from the porch all the way around the house. Seeing the magic was gone, the thief dropped the bowl in disgust and left it laying there. I picked it up knowing the thief. It was Rocky. That smart baby Raccoon believed the Bowl would always be full and he would no longer having to forage for food. I have enough problems with my indoor Cat, Cleo, and my outdoor cat, Calico. As if I didn’t have enough to handle, now I had a third smart apple that’s joined my crew. Who else would be next, I wondered, a skunk, or a possum? Monday morning, when I got up I couldn’t believe my eyes. The new 16-pound bag of Kitty bits, that I bought the day before at Bruno’s, instead of being in the kitchen against the wall next to the half-full bag from where I was feeding Cleo and Calico, was gone. When I looked in the hallway and then, in the front room, there it was laying beside my gravity machine and next to the coffee table. It was on the carpet as if someone, or something had dropped it there and left. I thought, ‘Perhaps senility is creeping up on you, Gene. You brought it in from the car and dropped there because you were to tired after all the other groceries you had to put away. You just forgot it.’ I didn’t think that was possible. My mind still works on all seven cylinders just fine. I put it back in its place against the wall, still in a quandary and trying to remember if I had put it there and forgotten that I did. Tuesday morning; same thing. Except, this time, it was laying in the hallway halfway between the kitchen and the front door. I thought, ‘Maybe Cleo was playing tricks and wanted all the Kitty kibbles for herself.’ A 16-pound bag? It couldn’t be Cleo. That bag is as heavy as three Cleo’s. She gets all the kibbles she wants and no other animal could have gotten into the house. Not even from the roof through the chimney. The fireplace has a stopper inside to let out the smoke. Besides, the opening is not large enough for a bear or a large animal to get through. I looked the Kitty bag over carefully for claw marks or scratches. There were none. The bag was just as new and shiny as the day I brought it from Bruno’s. Wracking my brain for an explanation, I could not believe any strange animal could have possibly come into the house and tried to carry the bag away. I always kept the doors closed…except on warm nights when I wanted to cool off the house for next day. That’s when I, sometimes, opened the front door for an hour before going to bed. In addition to having it open for such a short time, I installed a screen that was made in two parts and stayed closed because of the row of magnets along the center seam. That kept the screen in place all summer so I could go in and out easily. I never left it open all night. Otherwise, some curious critter might take that as an invitation. Perhaps it was Jeannette’s ghost. She died three years ago and my dear wife and I were together for fifty years of our marriage. I miss her. If it was her ghost maybe she was sending me a message. What could her message be? Did she want me to keep the bags of Kitty bits in the front room or the hall way? I always wanted to please her but the Kitty bit bags were perfectly okay in the kitchen next to the refrigerator. I puzzled over the mystery for three days. Finally, with so many other matters to think of, and since I couldn’t find an answer, I got busy with other things. Tonight, the mystery was solved.At eight o’clock I went to the front door, which I had left open for an hour before my bedtime. I was going to close the door for the night and open the front room windows to cool off the house. The front door, screen in place, had been left open for an hour, or so, to catch the cool evening air from after sundown at 7 PM, to my bedtime at 8:30 PM. At 8:30 PM all hell broke loose. A large Raccoon had slipped through the front door and the screen when I wasn’t looking. He had come for the third time to visit my Kitty kibble bag again. Twice he failed to carry that bag home to his nest so he came to try one more time. It happened, like cops coming on a robbery to surprise the thief, I discovered his plan and caught him in the act. When Mr. Raccoon saw me all his dream to abscond with sixteen pounds of Kitty bits and a month-long feast of Kitty bit dinners, went up in smoke. I had closed the front door so the Kitty bit thief streaked for the front room window to escape. The window was open to the night air but the screens were in place. The screens stopped him. He went crazy. When he saw me, he did his best to break through the window screen to escape. When that didn’t work he climbed the screen, tearing apart the window drapes and the curtains. Seeing that was no way out, he flew through the air toward the front door…which I had closed. I followed him as he climbed to the ceiling above the door, working hard to keep distance between us, still trying to escape, I managed to open the door. He was gone in a flash. Breathing a sigh of relief, I assessed the damage. The curtain, drapes wall fastenings had been torn from the wall. The curtain and drapes were a jumbled ruined heap of cloth and drape material. I learned Raccoons are smart. I should have known, a week ago when the ceramic bowl I left outside was carried forty feet around the house before the thief had tossed it away. He took it because thought it was a magic bowl always filled with kitty bits. He thought he would always have kitty bits to eat. When it did not refill by magic he was disgusted and threw it away. That same enterprising and intelligent creature had decide to go to the mother lode and steal an entire bag of Kitty bits. Not only do they have fingers, they are strong. For that Raccoon to haul a sixteen-pound bag for twenty feet, twice, and try a third time, speaks to his persistence, planning, and power. In the future I shall give all Raccoons the respect they deserve.