Why would you put a dead raccoon into the luggage compartment of the bus in the first place? The brief item in our local paper didn't explain, but inquiring minds would like to know.
True, the passengers on this particular bus were high school boys, which may be all the answer inquiring minds need. I could understand their interest—purely scientific, undoubtedly—in a dead critter. What I didn't understand was how the raccoon ended up stashed with the luggage. To me this implied a certain amount of official collaboration, since presumably only the coach or the bus driver could open the storage compartment.
The person who shares my morning newspaper suggested I might be underestimating the ability of a group of teenaged boys both to sneak a dead critter past their adult supervisors and to surreptitiously open the electronic latch to the luggage compartment door. Having been a teenaged boy himself, he ought to know. He claimed he wouldn't have put a dead critter on a bus himself, but would have abetted such a project.
Not satisfied with this explanation, I did further research. (Yes, I know. Certain people have occasionally implied I don't have enough to do.)
I found that the raccoon caper was sanctioned, however unwisely, by at least one adult. Furthermore, it involved raccoon-bashing as well as raccoon-stashing. On a Friday evening, the high school wrestling team from Carrington, North Dakota, was on a bus headed for a regional tournament in Grafton. They spotted a raccoon and the coach stopped the bus. Several wrestlers got off, hit the raccoon with a pail, picked it up, and stuck it in the baggage compartment under the bus.
Presumably, this whole operation seemed like a good idea at the time.
But apparently a pail (plastic, do you suppose?) isn't a very effective murder weapon. The next morning, when somebody opened the compartment, the "dead" raccoon hopped out and trotted away.
The poor critter must have been confused. First it had been knocked unconscious with a pail and shoved into a cold metal compartment among luggage filled with wrestler's uniforms and socks (freshly laundered, one can only hope). Then it escaped, only to find itself in a strange place miles from home.
Maybe its near-death experience has led to a spiritual awakening, and it will spend the rest of its life ministering to homeless critters in the parks and alleys of Grafton. Or maybe it will sell its story ("Captured by aliens and left for dead in subzero weather!") to the National Inquirer and retire to a cozy home well out of sight of the highway.
Meanwhile, back at the bus, the wrestlers and their coach were having an awakening of their own. Because some of the boys had handled a wild animal and therefore might have been exposed to rabies, the whole team was deemed a health risk and barred from the tournament.
As far as I know, none of the wrestlers have come down with any mysterious diseases. But there's a rumor that several of them have developed an unusual urge to wash all their food before they eat it.