There’s a raccoon climbing the building across from me. It looks as if it’s about ten stories up, maybe fifteen. Office workers go about their business on the ground below, walking robustly, unaware. I briefly contemplate the circumstances that a raccoon must be under in order to scale a building.

It is lost. It is confused. It is escaping.

A shudder passes through my body.

“Cold in here?”

It is climbing at an impressive pace.

“Jim?” Matt, our CEO, says. He is conducting my performance appraisal.

“Oh, I think I’m just getting sick,” I lie.

“Take the afternoon off, Jim. I’ll see you tomorrow. Unless you’re still sick.”

As I leave I take in the sight of the raccoon again. It has climbed another couple stories. I pass the train. A cool wind sweeps through downtown, crashing into souls and objects. I reach the bottom of Bow Valley Square and compulsively look upwards. I stare straight into the sun and reflexively avert my focus. Sweat forms on my face as waves of worry pulsate in my head upon realizing the raccoon’s fixed gaze upwards.

You exceeded expectations this year, Jim. First in and last out, you show tremendous commitment.

I enter the building and proceed up the emergency staircase, before exiting on floor 30, and towards the window adjacent to the elevator bay. I look straight down, at the spot I had been standing in moment’s prior, but see nothing unordinary. On the 35th floor, I perform the same act. Still, no raccoon present. I take a step back and look at my office across the way. Matt is at his desk. Judy is between his knees. They’re both married, not to each other though.

Jim, I want to promote you. This office could benefit from your example.

I head back up the staircase and exit five floors higher, two from the roof. When I reach the window, I finally see it—the raccoon. It appears much bigger closer up, bigger than one might expect. Its eyes look glazed and sunken, and the white strip across its face appears faded and fatigued. It diligently continues its trek upwards at a compelling pace. Soon, it passes parallel to me. It’s bushy tail drags behind, gathering dust. Its scratched fingers are worn and red, burned of all energy yet still droning on. Its final ascent imminently waits. I rush further up the stairs, towards the roof.

The door leading outside can only be reached by ladder. In the dark, I climb, and push it open. I look up and see the distant mountains tower above nearby building tops. Next, across the way I see a uniformed man hunched over. When he turns, a small, furry animal is caged in his arms.

“Easy catch. Not much to it when they’re stranded and exhausted. Fella walked straight in,” he says with curved lips.

The raccoon’s eyes are closed now, despite escaping the light. As the man passes, a cloud covers the sun anyways.


Bandit I