Night intruder

Kay lay awake warm and cozy, listening to the quiet night when she heard an odd, rhythmic sound outside that she could not identify. It was in a low register, regular like a giant heart beat, but with an occasional arrhythmia to it. The more she thought about it, the stranger it was. It seemed to come from the house itself. Was someone trying to get in?

Kay’s ears perked, alert quivering like a deer’s waiting at the first intimation of danger to bound from its present space into the forest. The sound had the regularity of a clock, like a second hand ticking, but it was muffled like the sound of a heavy overflow drip from the eaves trough, or maybe like a… She hesitated. It was so persistent and unidentifiable. Perhaps it was coming from across the street. Or was is on the other side of the house? Sounds traveled so that it was difficult to tell the direction of its source.

Kay groped for her glasses, rose and walked quietly to the window. She took the blackout blind and lifted its fringed edge ever so slightly.

There on the roof, mere feet away, the intruder lifted his head and stared straight at her although there was no way that he could have seen her, so small was the crack she had made by lifting the blind. Adrenaline rushed through her, mounting with her outrage and she rapped her hand loudly at the window, making as much startling noise as she could without breaking it. Damn Raccoons!

The fifty pound raccoon started, then stared, with a look that said, “Oh dammit! Caught again! Blasted humans. What right have they to disturb me at dinner?” and with a sneer of disgust, the raccoon moved away slowly, looking over his shoulder twice before disappearing into the night.

Well, at least it wasn’t a human intruder,” she thought as the adrenaline subsided. Immediately the thought came, “I wonder if they are living inside, under the roof. Now that would be a bummer!” and she stood stalk still to listen for sounds that would tell her where the raccoon had gone, but all she heard were lighter echoes of the same sound, and it was her heart. No, …. She listened intently again. There it was again, …tick, tick tick, … but from the other side. She went to the windows on the south wall, and there was the beast.

Kay rapped the window loudly and it once again moved off.

Now, here was a problem. Raccoons are sassy, intrepid animals. They don’t flee at the sound of a human, nor at their presence. They have lived too long in the urban environment, coming out at dusk to forage for food and to explore. They are curious animals, cute and funny, but they re destructive too. They will fight with cats and small dogs and win. They are known to be vicious and attacking when defending themselves; and they have taken the urban night as their territory. The forests that had been the coon’s domain had been ravaged by the two legged intruder and now their guerrilla warfare was just fair game.

This beast had been using its fine-clawed, strong hand-like paws to lift tiles. It was persistent and determined. How many nights had Kay slept through this night intruder’s work, oblivious that to his work at dismantling the roof?

What was Kay to do?

She remembered Mother’s eightieth birthday when Ron was only seven and Cousin Mary’s children were within a year either way of Ron’s age. It was Thanksgiving weekend but the sun had been particularly warming and the day bright and summery. Afternoon tea had been held on the wide veranda on the west side of the house. The children had run amok through the flower beds and around the lawn, daring each other to get wet (in their Sunday clothes) under the sprinkler, screeching in shrill delight as only young children can. They had picked up my garden stakes, long bamboo rods, and were chasing one another with them, using them as swords and as whips against each other, as they laughed and called to one another with fright and with glee.

“Bring those stakes up here before someone gets hurt!” Kay commanded sharply, and the children’s voices fell of a sudden, and their faces fell with them as they reluctantly brought the stakes to her. She piled them at the end of the porch under her watchful eye and the children returned to the lawn with subdued energy and lowered voices as they fought for position in determining their next activity.

Cousin Marion called her children back with a promise of cake and cola. With admonishions to sit properly, to use their forks, to say thank you, the children settled in a clamor.

“Oh look!” drawled Cousin Mary. “Look at the raccoon!” Where minutes before the children had been playing, a young raccoon, a thirty pounder I’m guessing, older than a kit but younger than an adult, came out from under the spruce tree, curious inspecting the human assembly before him.

“Stay here, children,” directed Cousin Mary. There were always fears of rabies with wild animals. It wouldn’t do to have the children accidentally aggravate the coon and be bitten.

Kay clapped her hands loudly to scare away the beast and shouted an ineffectual “Go away. Git. Git!” The coon listened intently as if the start of a theatrical piece had commenced and it was time to listen up.

When the coon did not budge, Kay threw a garden stake at it; but the coon merely approached the stake and pawed at it. A rain of stakes followed, but the coon did not move. Instead, he lifted a stake in his paw and threw it in the air. And then another and another. Like a child with a new birthday set of Lego, he continued to play with the stakes as if there was not only much fun to be had but explorations that might just possibly satisfy his childlike curiosity.
We watched the raccoon from the safety of the porch and soon after, we all entered the house and closed the door. We wanted no breaching of territorial boundaries between the wild and the urban; nor did we want encounters between the two legged and the four legged if there was the slightest chance of viciousness.

As Kay returned her thoughts to the night intruder and listened for further depredations of her roof, she wondered just what could she do? She was wide awake now. There was no chance of sleep. She went first to the spare guest room to find the emergency flashlight and went back to the window. The darned coon had ripped tiles off the north roof. What was he looking for? Grubs? Or was he looking to gain entry to the attic? A strip of mesh wire from underneath the black asphalt tiles was sticking up. No wonder she had a leak coming into the basement. That was newly done, thought Kay. And then she checked the south roof off the bedroom garret window. It was flat and as well laid as the day it had been put on.

There was nothing for it. She put back the flashlight and turned on the bedroom light; she put on her slippers and headed for the stairs. A coffee would warm her; would make her sleepy perhaps, and she yawned long and hard as her mind whirled and listened.

Just what was there to do?

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One Response to “Night intruder”

  1. suburbanlife Says:

    Eek! You had to be beside yourself, LFB, finding the cute pest staring you down. Sigh. Does this mean we, now are to expect visitations from this beastie -us with our brand new roof? Wait till Rumpole hears this! He will be having fits. G

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