January 23, 2016

A rural upbringing can create some lasting memories. I remember when I was age 12, I had a very close, face-to-face encounter with a possum while building an elaborate fort in our hay barn. I know now that I scared him, as his response was to open his long slender mouth and hiss at me, showing me his full set of sharp teeth. But at the time, his mouth was the size of an adult alligator. It was a face I’ll never forget as I made a quick retreat from the barn that would embarrass even the French army as I surrendered my fort to the possum army of one.

That memory came back to me recently when I noticed a visitor in the kitchen here at Bastrop Federal Satellite Camp–a baby possum. He wasn’t scared or angry; just out for a stroll. Within seconds though, the kitchen erupted into a chaotic chase scene reminiscent of a Keystone Cops movie. Some of the guys tried to catch the now highly elusive baby possum as I watched in amazement.

Finally he was captured by the “Band of Brothers” and taken from the camp in what some would call a “compassionate release,” which is difficult to obtain from the Bureau of Prisons without a federal judge. The city slickers in the kitchen seemed to be missing the obvious when they triumphantly unfurled the figurative “Mission Accomplished” banner as if aboard the aircraft carrier USS Abraham Lincoln–he was a BABY possum. We had a bigger problem, which any redneck would know is called a MOMMA possum.

The next day we found another baby possum. This time in the grill, near the gas burners. Another chase, another capture, and another compassionate release later, we had to then clean and sanitize the grill as cleanliness is second only to safety here (with food quality a distant third) and labor is cheap.

This time though we were smarter and used our “strategery” as we found the hole that led to the crawl space under the kitchen floor, an area I’ll refer to as the Possum Kingdom. This leads to the obvious question. Why had none of us ever noticed that there was a 4″ diameter hole through the kitchen floor? Maybe it was the start of an El Chapo like escape tunnel, but that’s doubtful since any inmate here could simply walk off. But the obvious is often overlooked at this place, as some of our inmates are not exactly Rhodes Scholars. Crystal meth apparently rots more than just your teeth.

Three days later, a third baby possum simply walked through the open back door, certainly sadly searching for his siblings who were now probably residents of a possum half-way house. The next day a fourth followed suit. Not to worry though, a member of our crack Bureau of Prison staff has allegedly contacted an exterminator. Hopefully it’s not the same genius who was responsible for restocking coffee here on November 1 which arrived 12 weeks later, but I fear only one staff person can make that call (union rules).

Stay tuned for details. I’m not sure this is over.

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