Dobby was outside barking his fool head off; he does this now and again. It was late. Well, lateish. I didn't want the neighbors bothered. So I went to the back door and called him.
This usually works. It almost always works. But tonight, he kept barking. Finally, when my calls turned to commands, he obeyed. But as Dobby was coming in the back door, Snug was exiting. Seconds later, he'd reappeared...with a large creature in his mouth. He dropped it at my feet. It was a not-an-infant-but-not-full-grown opossum. And it was dead.
Baroy came into the family room, Em trailing right behind.
"Em, get me a garbage bag," Baroy said finally, after staring at the lump o' possum for a few seconds.
"And an oven mitt," I added. Because right then, I'd noticed the opossum blink. "He's not dead."
In fact, as we were about to learn when Baroy reached to pick him up, he was very much not dead. So much not dead that he sprang to his feet and dashed toward Baroy's desk.
But Baroy was faster than he; he grabbed the creature by its tail, and held it susupended in the air.
"Put it outside, over the fence to the side of the house, so the dogs can't get at him again," I told Baroy, and he headed out the door.
"What was he doing?" Em asked then, pointing to the animal. (She'd cowered outside the room after she'd delivered the supplies, so had missed the events.)
It was then that I realized: "He was playing possum," I said.
* * * * *
Minutes later, as Baroy was putting Nature's Miracle on a wet spot we simply did not want to know the origin of (god, I hope that stuff works on possum pee), he looked up at Em and me. We were standing near each other, making frightened-and-grossed-out girl noises.
"Why did I have to do that?" he asked. It was a rhetorical question, but I chose to answer it anyway.
"Who has the penis in the family?"
"Not us!" said Em.
Baroy shook his head, disgusted.
Later (after an incident in which Baroy had gone outside to make sure there were no other half-dead young possums in our yard and stepped in some dog poop, but didn't discover it until he'd walked through the house and back out again...and the less said about that the better) the "why me?" conversation came up again.
"Well, would you prefer me to have picked up and possibly been attacked by a rabid possum?" I said, indignant.
"Hell, yeah," said Baroy. "But I knew it wasn't going to happen."
"Ach!" I said in mock disgust, gesturing toward him but looking at Em. "See? Chivalry is dead."
"No, chivalry is not dead," said Baroy. "I took care of it. I didn't make you do it."
"Fine then," I replied. "Chivalry isn't dead. It's just really reluctant."