No, that is NOT some kinky new romance, I promise. Anything but! However, in all the time I’ve been doing this blog, I’ve not ever posted any of my own external writing. I like to think I can write anything — fiction, non-fiction, reviews, etc., but lately I seem to be branching out into humor. Sometimes, situations are so extreme that the only way to handle it is with humor. That said — here we go! I hope you can enjoy my adventure! I can laugh now, too — now that it’s hopefully a thing of the past.
One recent Thursday night was the WORST I’ve spent in several years — here or anywhere else. I’d had the feeling for the last couple of days that there was another critter in here with me. I live in a mobile home – all by myself. Or so I’d thought. However, that night, I was proven right. That I’m still alive today testifies to my good, sturdy heart. Honestly, if I ever write a mystery story, it may well be ‘Death by Critter’.
Last November I embarked on the seemingly endless task of replacing my elderly oil-burning furnace in favor of an all-electric unit that would also be an A/C. BIG MISTAKE. It does work, but it would work so much better if the installation was complete. At the end of June (EIGHT months later) it still isn’t all finished. Doing me a big favor(?!) the installer guy removed the old furnace from a cabinet in the hallway of the trailer, right outside the door to my bedroom. I asked if the hole in the floor would allow critters in here. NOPE, he was definite about that. He was as incompetent in that answer as he was with the rest of the project, but that’s another story! A friend told me to just cover over the hole with some boxes, and all would be well. Hah!
Anyway, at 1 am on that particular Friday morning, I was awakened from a sound sleep by a scritch-scratch sound over in a corner of the closet. (It’s important to keep in mind the entire bedroom is a whopping 8½ x 9 feet! – so everything is pretty much right on top of everything else.) It sounded like someone crumpling up old-fashioned waxed paper. I threw a hard-soled slipper in that general direction, went to the loo, came back and tried to go back to sleep. Nope.
At 1:30 the noise came from the other side of the room (the wall that backs up to the kitchen.) Threw another slipper. Half an hour or so later, a shoe fell off the dresser. Well, not really a dresser, but a pair of Reeboks were there, one atop the other, and had been there for more than a week without moving. So, in the middle of the night, the top one falls off — unassisted? I think not.
Back to bed. This time, the noise was from the nightstand beside my head. The surge cord moved and ended up falling down behind it. Really? I must have been up half a dozen times checking here and there, banging on the walls, even in the bathtub (on the back side of the closet). Persistence should have been the critter’s name, although I truly had no idea exactly what IT was! Then.
This went on every half-hour or so until maybe 3:30, when I felt something run up one leg, cross over my tummy and start down the other one. I hasten to add here that I was under the blankets, etc., and IT was on top of them all. When I felt it, I must have moved, because it jumped! Landed on the floor, then I heard it skittering across the kitchen floor.
By this time, I was quite certain I could not sleep again in that bed at that time, so I went out to the living room, which as usual, looked like a tornado had just blown through. However, I moved everything off the sofa, grabbed my great big fleece blanket and nestled in. The critter was then quiet or busy somewhere else, because I heard it only once more, over by the sink (20 feet or so away). Just as I was finally dozing off about 4 am, I recalled that today was trash day, and the big trucks that empty the dumpsters would be here about 6. Dang.
Actually, the trucks were a tad late – it was 6:30. So up again for the loo, and back to my own bed again, where I slept quite peacefully until 8:30. I felt like left-over crud all day. Ended up not doing much of anything at all, because it was in the 90s and if I turned the A/C on, and drown the patio! I swear if I ever get my hands on that furnace guy again, I’ll strangle him, too! He has yet to install the drain tube for the unit. Grrrr.
Midnight or so, as I was getting ready for bed later that same evening, I decided to check that the hole in the floor where the old furnace used to be, was totally closed over. Well, not quite, as there – in the front right corner – a space of perhaps 2 inches square was at that very moment filled with a small, white, fur-covered snout with a pink tip. The tip was wiggling. Oh my gosh! Now I knew what the problem was – Possums! I grabbed the nearby broom and whapped it one with the bristle end. Understand, this action could not possibly have damaged the owner of the snout – but it did make a nice noise. The broom, that is. The creature was silent.
I put the broom aside, and went back to the space, carefully removing the two boxes that had been serving as weight on top of the thin cardboard box that wasn’t quite big enough to completely cover the hole. As I gingerly lifted the box, there was the entire critter, hunkering down in the space that was slightly larger than a big baked potato. It was white with black spots!
Whap! The broom went down again! “Get out of there! Go on, go back to where you belong, which is NOT in here!” I shrieked at the critter, which needed no second warning. I spent a few minutes looking for an appropriate-sized piece of wood to entirely cover the hole, but it was difficult, as I didn’t want to leave the hole uncovered while I looked. So, I propped a large piece of thin wood (I’d formerly used it as a project table on top of the ironing board, to make a larger temporary work surface) in front of the open space. It was too big to stand up tight against the door frame there, so I propped it up with a pair of Reeboks – one shoe on each side.
This seemed to work fairly well, at least temporarily. I found a couple of shelf pieces that more or less covered the entire gap, and again decided to barricade the space, which I did. I had no more than climbed into my bed to read and try to calm myself a bit before entertaining the notion of sleeping, when KA-BLAM!!! A noise from the hallway. I knew what it was, as I got out of bed only to discover a really fast-moving object! I shrieked at the critter (a different one this time – dark gray or black – I couldn’t tell, exactly, but the same size) which had obviously come under the bedroom door, and into my room, just as both my feet hit the floor.
I’m not sure which of us was more startled, but it beat a path back the way it had come in, and around that corner so fast, you’d have thought it was the current NASCAR champion! Sure enough that big piece of wood was now flat across the floor! I said, ENOUGH, ALREADY!!!
After putting it back up, again, I found two more pieces of wood to put in front of it, but then I had to figure out how to keep everything there – at least until morning. I found a bungee cord and while there was a lip on one side, there was nothing on the other. But the good old trusty broom did an excellent job of keeping everything in place. It’s still there, too.
The final trick, however, might have been the best. Possums are nocturnal, and I was really hoping that meant they truly didn’t like bright lights. So, I left the overhead hall light on all night.
Ahh. Peaceful silence and a mostly decent night’s sleep. Hooray!
That doesn’t mean I’ll allow them to continue their residency here, in my basement. FYI – mobile homes don’t have basements – they have a crawl space underneath. No matter. The critters will just have to vacate. Or else!
P. S. One of my neighbors – a retired Park Ranger – came over to be sure the space did not harbor any more critters – dead or alive – and showed me how to totally block any and every entrance into the trailer from down below. Thank goodness for Brian! Sunday night was totally calm and quiet and I slept like someone hit me over the head with the broom!
Hooray. (apologies for the photos and/or captions not being where they’re supposed to be! They’re more unruly than the critters! )