I was on my way to go and babysit my niece and I decided to stop for a slice of pizza. There’s a very cute little pizza place that makes the best slices right near the corner of 231st and Godwin Terrace. I figured that I would cut through Godwin Terrace to get to Marble Hill, less people and foot traffic. So I had crossed the street, I was walking along Godwin Terrace on the P.S. 207 side, across from that place that I think used to be (is still?) a nunnery, eating my pizza. Obviously, I’m not looking up. Why would I be?
So at first, I heard this little chirping sound. Like, churr churr! churr churr! And I’m thinking that there’s a stray kitty nearby, there’s a good couple of them in Kingsbridge. So I was looking for this kitty, glancing underneath the cars where the strays usually hide. But then, I heard this scream. It was ear-splitting, the sound bounced off the brick walls and traveled all directions. I was absolutely stuck in place. It sounded as though someone had had a knife driven through their ribcage. Now, I’m frantic. I’m turning every which way, trying to find the source of the scream. The blood dripped from the leafless tree beside me, and I heard it land on my pizza before I saw it.
I am sad to say that I dropped the pizza, but it was covered in blood from a raccoon carcass, needless to say it was ruined. The raccoon had been utterly torn apart, split right through the middle. It’s head was twisting to and fro on the breeze with its broken neck. The mountain lion in the tree sunk its teeth in again and ripped up another chunk of meat. It chewed on raccoon innards and made direct eye contact with me, a growl gurgling in the back of its throat. It’s claws, paws, and maw were all bloodied.
I’ve lived in the city my entire life. I don’t know the first thing about how to fend off an expected attack from a cougar. And, every possible thought is running through my head, you know, everything I’ve seen on Discovery Channel over the years. Make myself bigger. Make loud noises. Don’t run, cougars are sneak-attack predators and want to get the back of your neck. Or maybe it was screaming because it wanted me to back off from its kill.
If I called animal control what would they even do?
I couldn’t run because I didn’t want to risk it chasing me, I could never outrun a cougar. So I stood there, right on Godwin Terrace beside P.S. 207, making eye contact with it while it continued ripping into that carcass, dripping more blood from the tree to the pavement and my pizza. I carefully silenced my phone, knowing my sister would try to call me when I didn’t arrive to babysit my niece.
Night came, eventually. The cougar had been asleep, but it awoke now. It stretched and yawned. I had been slowly inching my way away for hours, and no one had come up Godwin Terrace to help me. Or, if they had, they turned around when they saw a goddamn mountain lion waiting at the crest of the hill.
It came down from the tree now. Blood dried to its matted fur. It slinked up to me, seemed to sniff. It looked up to my eyes, I looked back. I was so tired. I wanted to cry. I was sure I was dead. But then it shuffled off. Then sprinted. Right down Kimberly towards Broadway, towards the Party City. Once I was one hundred percent it was gone, I started sprinting with all my might back home.
I needed a long hot bath, a call with my sister, a cry, and to sleep until Christmas.