And this is a yapok. Also known as a water opossum.

In Which Jamie Meets A Yapok

She was barely outside when she heard an unfamiliar voice. “Chorizo? Oh, how I do love chorizo! I’ll have two, please!”

The woman nearly dropped the platter she held, along with its pyramid of various sausages that her husband was about to put on the grill. She stood stock still, as if her Louboutin espadrilles were nailed to the deck.

To the best of her recollection, animals didn’t talk. Real, living, breathing animals, as opposed to those found in various media, like Bugs Bunny, Mr. Ed, or all those characters in The Lion King. And yet, here was this black and white, furry, skinny rat-thing, as big as a house cat, looking expectantly at her.

She began to think that perhaps it wasn’t too prudent to have chugged that large glass of Zinfandel when she took a Xanax a few minutes ago.

“Uh, Daaaaaaan…” she said over her shoulder to her husband.

“Yeah, Babe?” he answered.

“This…person here wants two chorizos.”

The rat-thing nodded. “With mustard, please.”

“He wants mustard on them, too.”

“Does he want plain buns or poppy seed?”

The rat-thing shook his head. “No, no need for a bun. I’m trying to watch the carbs.”

The woman, still in shock, said to her husband, “Did you get that?”

“Get what, Babe?”

The rat-thing smiled. “Oh, sorry, I should have mentioned. He can’t hear me. Only people who need to hear me can hear me.”

The woman took a brief nanosecond to find an area of her brain that contained a rational and viable explanation for this freshly bizarre occurrence. Finding none, she said to the rat-thing, “Hold that thought. I’ll be right back.”

She found within herself the ovarian fortitude to move, and took the platter of sausages to her husband. Thankfully, he had his back to her the whole time in an attempt to light the grill. “I swear to god, I’m gonna kick Mike for telling me to buy this stupid green thing. We’re going back to gas as soon as I can get my ass to Home Depot!”

With the tried-and-true happy little Stepford Wife smile that she had honed the past few years, she set the platter on the table next to the grill. “Here you are, dear. Gotta check on the potato salad!”

“You do that…” he grumbled as he attempted to light the wood chips. Again.

She turned, wiping her hand on her perfectly starched and pressed gingham apron. As she walked by the rat-thing, she motioned for it to follow her into the house. It obliged, trotting behind her. She took the rat-thing upstairs to the studio office she set up when they remodeled the attic. This was her private area, the upstairs she-shed where Dan never went. After all, he’d have to take an interest in what she did in order to have the motivation to go in there in the first place.

She silently offered the rat-thing a comfy chair to sit in, while she rolled her office chair away from her computer and placed it opposite the seated rat-thing. Gradually, she lowered herself into her chair as she studied the being in front of her.

“I suppose I won’t be having the chorizo,” it sighed in disappointment.

The woman gawked, still unsure of her mental state. Finally, she blurted, “What’s happening? Right now?”

“I guess a little explanation would be in order. I am a yapok, also known as a water opossum. I was living in a nice little place I had made for myself next to a river, when suddenly, I felt I must leave my home to deliver an important message.”

“Huh. Okay. So, what does this have to do with me?”

“Well, first of all, do you know where I can find Jamie?”

“I’m Jamie.”

“Ah-ha! Then I have an important message for you!”

Suddenly, the big cookout that Dan was holding for the company no longer mattered. Neither did her fruitless suburban housewife life of the past five years.

So, she listened to the yapok as the world she knew dissipated into mist.