From: finch@MCS.COM (Deirdre Sholto-Douglas)
Newsgroups: alt.peeves
Subject: Illicit Groundhogs

As one of the first rites of spring approaches I feel the urge to emerge from my snug, highly-mortgaged burrow and cast about for shadows. This day, which as a child, I called Candlemas, was a religious holiday dedicated to a well-connected infant. On This Side Of The Puddle however, it has been renamed and dedicated to a somewhat chubby herbivore known as a groundhog, from whence springeth my peeve.

As a result of fraternisation with the aforementioned species I now have a criminal record. Something which any employer who bothers to check can discover. I now answer 'yes' to the question "Have you ever been arrested?"...for possibly one of the most disconcerting crimes of the century. Groundhog possession.

Peeve: Inane local ordinances.

When I purchased my abode, I didn't notice the tunnel under the front stoop. The estate agent didn't bring it to my attention either. Unknowns dwelling beneath front steps are not Selling Points.

SemirelatedPeeve: Listing agents have incredible semantic ability, I'm certain if my agent had been thinking clearly She could have renamed my underground resident a "Small Organic Lawn Trimmer."

Once my furnishings were in place and the draperies ordered it was too late to change my mind anyway.

After a few weeks of residence I met my lodger in the basement flat. And to be candid, being somewhat unsure of the Local Fauna, she scared the hell out of me. Fortunately the feeling was mutual and she quickly retired to her quarters...prompting me to push aside the foliage and discover the entrance to her home.

A call to the local Forestry Department put my mind to rest with regard to her likely temperament and life went on as normal. Over the next few years I watched her on the front lawn as her figure waxed and waned with the season. In the spring she usually had small replicas in tow. We came to an equitable arrangement over inter-speciatal relations. She didn't gnaw the flowers, I didn't put the hose down the burrow. We adapted to one another and lived quite peacefully.

Little did either of us realise what was instore when the new neighbors moved in. I looked out my office window one night to find a strange woman poking about my front shrubbery. In an attempt to remain neighborly I inquired as to her need for assistance. She responded with:

"Do you know you have a platypus under your porch?"

Platypus?! Ye gawds...I may have moved around a bit, but even I have a fair grasp as to which continent I'm currently residing upon. We eventually ironed out the fact that the 'Platypus' was a slightly more evolved creature and as a well-behaved citizen was unlikely to attack her over-fed, under-exercised excuse for a cat.

Magapeeve: That damned fleabitten cat hanging about *my* house instead of its own, causing my indoor felines to go nuts at the windows.

Two days later, I opened the door in response to a knock and found myself facing a somewhat bemused Law Enforcement Type. He promptly handed me a summons to appear at court for "Possession of a Groundhog". I read my summons. I had 30 days to "remove said animal from the premises or be found in comtempt of court."

"You can't be serious."

"I'm afraid so m'am....we've had a complaint."

"And if I don't remove 'said animal'?"

<He had the grace to be embarassed> "Well m'am, I'll have to place you under arrest...."

"For habouring a fugitive groundhog?! Don't you have traffic citations to write or something? Is this town so well-mannered that the only criminals are rodents?!"

Peeve: New neighbors who interfere with established routines and impose *their* values on me.

I fussed and fumed around the house for a good hour after he left. I briefly comtemplated contacting the ACLU but instead called my attorney. It took him five minutes to stop laughing and catch his breath. He finally managed to gasp out.

"I don't think you have to worry about deportation."

"Very funny. C'mon, lets have some legal advice...what am I paying you for?"

Advice was quickly forthcoming. It was determined that I should do Nothing. This is exactly what I did. Thirty one days later, there was a knock on my door. My Friendly Law Enforcement Official was back. He had apparently reconnoitered the area and concluded that 'said animal' was still in residence and had come to haul me off to jail. Despite my request for handcuffs and the full lights/sirens treatment, he was insistant that I drive my own vehicle to The Station. Apparently I didn't look desparate enough. I did however get my 'one phone call' and promptly dialed up my Legal Wizard.

"Guess where I am?"

"Shit!! What for? And is anyone listening?"

"Yep...ears everywhere. And possession."

"<creative swearing in Yiddish>...of what and how much?"

"About ten pounds of groundhog."

Dead silence.


"You've been busted for possession of a groundhog?!"

"Justice is swift and will you come get me before they throw away the key?"

"On my more question...What are they keeping the'evidence' in?"

"Hmph! The 'evidence' is still at large. Will you *please* put your ass in that over-priced, over-horsepowered midlife crisis on wheels and get over here??? I think they're going to take my belt away..."

I was hauled before a judge and it was determined that as I was unlikely to skip town, I could be released on my own recognisance, provided I post bond ($50.00!), the real court date was set for 60 days later.

Point in fact, my arrest took place in September, when they returned 60 days later to hunt down the critter, (Whoops! I mean, 'impound the evidence'.) she was nowhere to be found. Not overly surprising for Drear November, the little demon had gone into hibernation. Technology was applied to the entrance of the burrow (sticks poked into it....the very latest in Animal Eviction Equipment apparently...) Anyone with half a brain knows that once those animals hibernate, dynamite won't budge them. There was no response from the subterranean chambers beneath the stoop. After an hour of poking and prodding the Minions of the Law admitted defeat.

Worriedpeeve: If the police can't apprehend a groundhog, what will they do when faced with a *real* criminal?

And to shorten a tedious judicial process, the end result was the case being thrown out of court, charges dismissed, owing to Lack of Evidence. Habeus corpus in an entirely new light. My money was refunded and I was "Free To Go." The arrest however, remains on my 'Permanent Record."

Peeve: My tax dollars hard at work!

Spring is fast approaching. The snow is melting, the flowers will bloom, the birds chirp and to my consternation, small animals will frolic upon my lawn. And larger animals will once again be knocking on my door. I have no doubt that what's-her-name next door will be complaining of "Tasmanian Devils" under my stoop.


It is not outside the realm of possibility that my next post will be from the Will County Jail as I languish there for 'Obstructing Justice.' Can anyone send an e-mail with a *literal* file in it?

!!!!!Peeve: The skunk which used to dwell under my shed has found new accomodations under my neighbor's deck. I can hardly wait for their first outdoor party of the season.