Lowell raised his hands in the air and stared the raccoon down.
“Hey there, buddy.”
The raccoon chittered some more, more loudly. It was if a raccoon had mated with an angry buffalo and given birth to this wooly beast, blocking his path and his God-given right of passage. Lowell lowered his flashlight so the beam covered the ground between them, no longer shining it in the raccoon’s eyes. The raccoon stopped its chittering and fell silent, sniffing the night air. Lowell wondered if he should just turn and head back down the path, but he’d come here for an adventure, hadn’t he? And didn’t crazy shit like this count as an adventure?
Lowell took a cautious step forward, hands still raised. “I don’t want any trouble. I’m just passing through.”
A low, guttural sound came out of the raccoon’s throat, but it took a few steps toward the right of the trail, as if allowing him to pass.
“Are we cool?”
The raccoon scratched at the ground.
“I don’t want to pass if we’re not cool.”
The raccoon retreated another foot, until its backside touched the bushes lining the path. Lowell started forward, walking along the opposite edge of the path. The raccoon watched each movement he made, its eyes glowing with refracted light, but it didn't charge. Lowell continued up the steep trail, bending at the waist. When he’d gone twenty yards, he looked back down and saw a small, rounded mound scurrying at the edge of the light. It halted a moment after he did, as if waiting for him to continue.