I’m not quite sure, but I’m pretty sure that’s a fox I’m looking at. I was unaware we had them around here, but I’ll be honest I’m not really paying attention to nature all that much. It looks kinda small for a dog, but kinda big for a cat, but when I first saw it I swear there was a collar or something around its neck.

So I’m looking out my back window, as I do every morning at precisely 6:03 AM, when something darts out of the corner of my eye. I’m telling you this sucker was fast. I couldn’t tell if it was an animal or the grill cover I forgot to put back on after making some burgers back in August. Anyway, the thing looked kinda small, but not too small. It was red, or well red in the sense that Julianne Moore’s hair is red.

Julianne Moore and Hugh Grant in the film Nine Months (1995)

I mean I could be wrong, but my eyes are pretty well trained in rapid movement. Millions of years of evolution have brought me to this exact moment. Now I only saw the tail but I’m going to guess what the rest of the lil guy looked like just based on what I saw. I mean it was way too small to be a coyote, but then again I haven’t really seen any of those around here either.

I did see a sandhill crane once. Aw man it was super cool.

But yeah so I filled in some gaps and made an estimate of what it looked like, and I mean tell me that’s not a fox.

Artist (me) rendering of the beast, with size comparison of the hardcover version of Jane Leavy’s biography of Babe Ruth, The Big Fella

I mean sure I took some liberties with the body, but I know there was no way that was my neighbor’s German shepherd, Sasha. While super resourceful, intelligent, and at times terrifying, that dog would not have been able to fit under the small gap between my fence and the grass line.

As a journalist, my first instinct is to trace a story to its root. So, I set out to find some answers. If there were foxes in Plainfield, my old neighbor who does nothing but complain about my 2 am screaming fits on NextDoor would be the person to know.

Oh, sure, I see foxes all the time around these parts. Usually they build a den down there by Hadley and Moon Road, but they’re awful protective of their home and if they’ve got pups in there, well I suggest you don’t g…

– Stewart Crebbins, 71

I was off, down to where Mr. Crebbins had told me to go. Somewhere around this four way stop would be the answer I had been looking for since a few hours ago.

Camped out with some Kroger sushi and a case of plain La Croix, I was ready to stay all damn day if I needed to.

Completely undetectable to any high-threshold sniffers, but still delightfully refreshing.

My boss kept texting me, asking where I was. I didn’t have time for that nonsense, so I threw my phone in a small puddle. That’ll show him.

So I stayed out until about 9 or 9:30ish. I mean yeah I was pretty cold, but my journalistic integrity was at stake.

So okay, yeah, when I drove to get more plain La Croix from the Wal-Mart Neighborhood Market around 11ish, I was trying to plug my phone into the cord in my car and I hit someone, but that’s beside the point.

I purchased another case of crispy water and was about to leave when I had to use the bathroom. Because of all of the prior cans of plain La Croix, you know?

So I go out to my car and thankfully it started raining again, I had some weird red smudges on one of my headlights. Must have been those neighborhood kids playing with red paint again.

I drove back toward the intersection where I was told there would be foxes and passed the guy I had clipped going about 48 miles per hour. He was still there, laying in a ditch. Probably just resting after all the excitement.

In my defense, what were they doing in the road anyway? The port on my phone was still wet from the puddle, and I didn’t want to connect to bluetooth since that sometimes malfunctions, so I had to use the charger cable. I was really looking forward to listening to a few minutes of the new Joe Rogan Podcast. I mean his guest was Lawrence Fishburne! Morpheus himself!

Lawrence Fishburne’s character Morpheus in The Matrix: Path of Neo video game for Playstation 2.

So anyway, the foxes never showed up, so I came home to write this instead of going back to the stakeout point. I put on some jammies and got in bed.

Just as I was dozing off, I heard a rustling in my back yard. The adrenaline pulsed through my veins. I was careful not to make too much racket or draw attention by turning on any lights.

So now I’m sitting here, in the darkness of my kitchen, staring out into the back yard, and I’ve gotta be real with you, dear reader. I’m pretty sure that’s a fox I’m looking at.

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