Slice of Night

Though the night is not yet at its darkest, the parking lot in front of Lauren’s 24 Diner is close to empty. A rusty pick-up truck contrasting against a black Tesla are the only vehicles still around.¬†Taking opportunity of the quiet evening is a large, dark gray rat following a tantalizing smell trough a hole in the side of the metal dumpster behind the diner. It stops for a moment, whiskers vibrating around its busy nose, only to continue up a sloping cardboard box towards its goal.

And there it is.

The smell of cheese mingled with bread and fruit is enough to make the little creature buzz with anticipation. Its front paws touch the soft surface of the pizza slice gently, while it searches for the best way to dig into the feast.¬†Distracted by its hunger, the rat doesn’t neither see nor hear the approaching shape before it is already hovering right above it. When it finally looks up and finds itself staring into the masked face of the furry newcomer, it stiffens up like a clenched fist.

The pointy nose approaches slowly, coming closer to the rat with every racing heartbeat. There is a sniffing sound wheezing through the nostrils, while the rat itself barely breathes at all.

Then, a snort.

The racoon pulls back, it’s round eyes glittering as they catch the light of the neon sign on the diner’s roof. Leaning back to rest on its hind paws, it reaches out towards the pizza with its hand-like front ones. Feeling the fear giving way to dismay, the rat glances longingly at the slice but dares not move.

The dark, fuzzy fingers of the raccoon close around and gently pick up one piece of the toppings. The rat then sees how it turns and extends it paw towards it.

The rat sniffs the pale yellow pineapple. Then, sensing no danger, it quickly snatches the extended piece of fruit and starts nibbling it.

The racoon turns back and forth between the pizza and rat, picking off each of the pieces of pineapple and putting them in a pile on the cardboard of the box. When all the pieces have been removed, it finally starts eating.

Side by side, they pair feast on the slice as the full moon crests the roof of the Ridderfeld Mall beside them.