Furiously Happy: A Funny Book About Horrible Things by Jenny Lawson

 

Ralph is a simple and content raccoon living in a bustling suburb, who gets caught and stuffed by a taxidermist, but retains his consciousness. For a while, he sits on a high shelf, watching other animals go through what he did. One day, a small earthquake rocks the house, and he falls to the ground. He realizes that he feels no pain and that he can in fact move his body. He also realizes that because he is technically dead, he will now never age; indeed, he even had no hunger. He reasons that he had become immortal. Suddenly unsatisfied with life, he escapes from the taxidermist, and heads to the next town over, looking for the end of his agony.

When he gets into the next town, Ralph encounters another raccoon who is in the final stages of rabies, and he gets bitten, but doesn’t bleed. Realizing he can’t even die from another’s hand, in anger and despair, he strangles the rabid raccoon to death. What Ralph doesn’t realize is that the sick raccoon he killed was the head of the local gang of raccoons. Instead of trying to kill him, they choose him as their new leader, because he was unafraid and unaffected by rabies. Ralph goes along with this plan, mostly in the hope that he will encounter something or someone who could put him out of his misery.

During his tenure as Raccoon Godfather, Ralph encounters the group’s archrivals, the pigeons. The power of the pigeon clan lies mostly in the fact that humans accept pigeons. They are pests, but they can fly freely and walk on the streets during the day with few repercussions. With the new appointment of Ralph as the new leader, the raccoon gang gets more confidence. They turn over garbage cans and rip open bags, but to protect the food for later, they manage in groups to put the trash back in the bins and put lids back on. This restricts the pigeons, who used to take advantage of the raccoons’ messiness. They begin attacking the raccoons, pooping on the food that the raccoons are eating, or standing watch over the raccoons’ shelters during the day, making excessively loud noises. In retaliation, and hoping for conflict, Ralph, with ever-declining mental health, suggests that they destroy the pigeons’ nests. This is the final straw for the birds.

The pigeons have an assassin on retainer, a dog whose owners think that their electric fence is effective. She is a Borzoi named Sasha. She travels the neighborhood by night, fending off the coyotes from scavenging in the pigeons’ territory. The raccoons used to be scared of her, but they recently have become bold. The pigeons begin to spy on the raccoons, which only works because the raccoons have become unconcerned with their surroundings. They catch snippets of conversations, revealing the gang members believe in the immortality of their leader. The pigeons believe that if they can take out Ralph, the raccoons would be pushed back into the darkness. They employ Sasha to hunt and kill Ralph. She seems unconcerned, comparing it to de-stuffing her own toys at home.

Later that night, Ralph is having a debate with some of his closest subordinates over whether they had gone too far, when Sasha interrupts them. Ralph yells to the others to scatter, and that he will be fine. Sasha chases him for a bit, and is impressed that he doesn’t seem to slow down or get tired. She suggests that maybe he is immortal, but he still has the holes in his arm from the rabid raccoon he killed; therefore, he can be destroyed, if not killed. He thinks about this, wondering if destruction is the same as death. Ralph stops, and Sasha is able to catch him; she pins him down and starts chewing him at the seam. Thick stuffing comes out, and he lies there, unable to move but unable to feel. An emotion washes over him, a violent wave of happiness at the thought of finally being free of the emptiness he felt. Ralph laughs out loud and requests that she chew him to pieces.

Right before the final blow that would actually tear his head off, a human walks by. Sasha runs away, afraid of getting caught by her owners. The human looks at the damaged stuffed raccoon, and she picks him up. His arms, ripped badly, are in an open position, outstretched. She laughs and hugs him and tells him she can fix him. She takes him home, and stitches him back up, refilling his stuffing. All fixed up, she places him on a shelf along side a menagerie of stuffed animals. He looks at his stitches, dainty and unnoticeable; his stomach is once again full and soft to the touch. He looks at his small hands, sewn back together. They clench into fists.

Five days later the apartment complex burned down. No one could prove it was arson, but survivors swore they heard terrible laughter from within the blaze.

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