Not every person who performs a courageous act makes the evening news. That's why the Mercury is pleased to pay tribute to the unsung heroes in our community whose stories truly paint a "Profile in Courage."


It was a typical summer evening for John Lewellen of SE Portland, who had passed the evening at a local tavern consuming two pitchers of Pabst Blue Ribbon. Though driving home was a challenge in his weakened condition, he heroically pulled up to his home and staggered up the steps of his front porch. However, had he known what was awaiting him, he might have chosen to never come home at all...

Fumbling with his keys, John was stopped cold by an unfamiliar and frightening chewing sound. Whirling toward the noise, his blood froze; There, at the far end of the porch, was a deadly raccoon ravenously devouring a ham and cheese sandwich he'd left out two days earlier. Unluckily for John, the beast spotted him too! The raccoon stared dangerously at him with cold, beady eyes... its shiny wet nose suspiciously twitching... its mouth filled with razor sharp teeth and glistening crumbs of ham. John knew he had little choice but to attack the beast--or perish at the mercy of its tiny, vicious claws.

With an unusually-high-for-a-man scream, he flung the contents of a ceramic bowl filled with cigarette butts (which he had kept on the porch to entertain friends) at the potentially rabid interloper. The raccoon let out an ear-piercing "SQUEAK!" and was momentarily stunned while furiously wiping the ashes from its eyes. A foreboding calm filled the air. But then, just as suddenly... DISASTER! The raccoon became enraged, charging at the innocent John with tremendous speed and BITING HIM soundly on the knee, before making its cowardly dash into the night.

John was completely incapacitated; writhing in pain, screaming for assistance--but callous neighbors ignored his tearful pleas. He knew he would have to save himself. Quickly taking off his "Damn, I'm Good!" t-shirt, he fashioned a makeshift tourniquet around his leg to stop the hateful rabies from spreading to his heart. Then, painfully... excruciatingly, he dragged himself through a poop-filled lawn to his car, and somehow drove himself to the hospital, where he had to wait THREE horrible hours to see a physician.

And though his lower leg had to be amputated because of the too-tight tourniquet, the rabies test happily came back negative. Today, John feels lucky; lucky to have survived the inhuman ravages of nature's perfect killing machine, the deadly raccoon. And even on one leg, he still manages to make it to his neighborhood tavern and drink two pitchers... every single night.