The scuffling woke me up at 4:00 am. Already curled up like a well-cooked shrimp I tried to hunker up more - well as much as my stiff knees would let me. “What could that racket over my head be,” I wondered as my phenomenal dream faded, and the annoying noise continued to crescendo. Was it a mouse?
Indeed, I had been aware of some errant scratching within the walls a time or two, and on more than one occasion had even discovered some suspicious globs of fabric under the sink, the tell tale crumbs beneath a sheared off corner of a box of cereal in the cupboard, and later a few small remnants of that meal.
However, my two Amazon felines had always been able to keep any type of rodent infestation down to a minimum, and in fact had often been busted bringing home neighborhood contraband critters still wriggling in their mouths (to that extent I am certain my neighbors had been grateful of my frequent collared prowlers.)
Still, one of said Amazons who nightly snoozed on my feet continued to remain in cat dreamland and I was apparently stuck being the sentry for that particular morning shift.
So, barely breathing I concentrated on the noise. With audio effects being difficult to translate into words my best attempt, sadly, will be far from the actual sound but it sounded much like “scritch scritchscritch” and then the sawing of a tiny little hand saw (I swear that’s what it sounded like).
“Yes, that sure sounds like a mouse,” the voice in my head remarked. And then a board groaned overhead. “Uh no, mice aren’t that big” my inner voice squeaked and I felt my breathing pick up in tandem with the increased beating of my heart. I quietly straightened my posture out in the bed, and the scuffing immediately ceased. Whatever it was had Six Million Dollar Man hearing AND was bigger than a mouse.
My mind started working overtime. I envisioned a bloated Jabba-the-Rat wiggling in a corner, with her army of little rat minions bringing her trash scraps to feed all of the little baby Jabba-the-Rats.
I pictured a more than likely vicious Mama Raccoon nesting about and redecorating the attic in anticipation for her upcoming dating, mating and then blessed event of octuplets.
I saw a surplus of squirrels creating quite a bachelor pad for sleepovers and the subsequent squirrelettes.
And even worse, I pictured all of the above.
Sleep finally came to me at 4:45 when the nestling stopped, and I tossed and turned until the alarm clock went off at six. I woke up knowing that I had several hours of daylight to figure out what to do next. I also knew I needed to at least walk around the house and look for the Studio 54 entranceway and then go from there.
So, after a week of walking around the house peering and looking and gazing from every angle I could from the safety of my yard, I finally went to the official website of the State Division of Wildlife to reaffirm my fear. I found out that squirrels are definitely not nocturnal but rats, mice and raccoons are. Yikes.
Now convinced that I most certainly had a ferocious mother raccoon inhabiting my attic, I commenced to tell everyone I knew of my wild life, and how inconvenient it would be to have a nest of raccoon adolescents padding about overhead throughout the spring and into the summer. How it would be far too dangerous to even attempt to interrupt the upbringing of these youngsters as everyone surely knew it was a certain reorganization of one's face to come between a raccoon mother and her children. I dramatically regaled how miserable my sleep was surely to be for the foreseeable future, and apologized profusely for the expected bags under my eyes. I firmly stated that the wild life had taken over and I was at its mercy.
And therein was my downfall.
After borrowing an extension ladder, my very best friend and hubby cat walked about the rooftop. He tottered like an acrobat across every inch of the roof trying to ascertain just where a wide-bodied raccoon would be able to gain access. I expectantly watched him, again from the safety of the ground. finally, after finding not even a shingle loose, he came down. As did I.
Still, not willing to give up my argument that there was danger to be found in the top story of the house, I insisted that he take the ladder into the house and venture into the very abyss of peril. Grudgingly he did so. With cautious steps up the metal rungs of the extension ladder and firmly clutching a flashlight – nay, a heavy flashlight - in his hand, he unceremoniously poked his head, hair by hair, into the darkness of the void.
Hearing and seeing nothing he dared to go further. I stood at the bottom of the ladder, sighing that I had a knight in shining armor to ward off the beasts of the wood and waited. His body disappeared into the attic and I held my breath.
Hubby's face suddenly popped above the hole in the ceiling and he smiled. “There isn’t anything up here but mice, hon.” And I let out my breath somewhat indignantly but secretly relieved. “How do you know?”
He quickly climbed down the ladder and instructed me to take a look for myself. I’ll tell you it took all of my courage and then some to mount those rungs and peer about the dusty innards of the creaky house. But I did, and discovered a maze of little mouse corridors crisscrossing everywhere through the insulation like rodent superhighways, complete with bridges and blockades.
So that’s what had been keeping me from sleeping!
As I climbed down the ladder the thought struck me how similar the hallways of those little, albeit heavy, mice were to the mazes of just about any office building.
And then I stopped as a thought struck me - and then shook my head.
“Naw, we are all more than mice in a maze – we are here to learn and discover what life has to offer. We crisscross our own hallways in pursuit of happiness, to gain enough money to live on, and to enjoy that pursuit."
I nodded in agreement with myself, because the next day I had documents to type, and emails to send, and people to smile and greet as I passed them in the hallways. I had money to make, for heavens sake!
And even better, I was sure I was going to get a really good night’s sleep that night knowing that I didn’t have the beast from “Alien," or even a furry little Monty Pythonesque bunny over my head.
However, before I climbed into bed I knew I would need to sit down and have a heart-to-heart discussion with those darned Amazonian cats. They would surely be a bit petulant, being caught sleeping on the job and all. I was sure that, abashed, they would probably slink off to find a dark alley, where they could hone their rodent-hunting skills a little bit better.
Well, it's off to bed because work awaits!
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