Things that go bump in the night … get chased by dogs

Published 4:42 pm Friday, October 21, 2011

“OK,” I said to Paul last Thursday morning. “That was officially the most horrible thing that has ever happened to me.”
“Really?” Paul replied, opening the fridge to retrieve the orange juice. “Worse than having a horse fall on you and break a few ribs?”
“Worse than getting up in the middle of the night, only to step in something revolting from the cats?”
“Oh, much worse.”
“Worse than that flight out of Spain when you and your tour manager had had too many Bloody Marys, turbulence hit, and all the bathrooms were occupied?”
“OK,” I capitulated. “That was pretty bad.” (and I’ve never had a Bloody Mary since.)
Gentle reader, before I divulge the details, be forewarned: if you are the squeamish sort, read no further.
Go take your cup of coffee and turn on HGTV and watch total strangers destroy someone’s bathroom. Because what happened to me was the kind of thing that will prevent you from going to sleep tonight.
To begin with, I’ve been sleeping in the downstairs bedroom. Insomnia plagues me of late and this way, Paul can stay up as long as he likes and snore his head off without fearing to meet my bloodshot and accusing glare the following morning over breakfast. And, because the nights have been gorgeously cool and crisp, I have kept the patio french doors open with abandon, cultivating true ‘sleeping weather.’
The dogs and cats, evidently concerned that I must be rather lonely on my own, have taken to sharing my bed (actually staking their respective territories before I even climb in), generously leaving me 6 inches of mattress, next to the edge, on which to slumber.
One cat, Tippy, has taken to sleeping under the bed, occasionally attacking the boxspring covering, only stopping when I smack my hand repeatedly upon the frame.
It was sometime around 2 a.m. Thursday morning when I was startled awake by what I, blurry from REM sleep, supposed to be an earthquake. The entire bed was shaking, and the terriers, like fur-clad sentries, stood rooted on either side of me, tensed and growling.
Suddenly realizing that Tippy was now actually somehow in the boxsprings, leaping about, I jumped up and shouted, “Stop it! Get out from there!” while banging the side of the bed.
Having not yet turned on the light and sitting up in pitch darkness, I felt the other two cats dive from the bed onto the floor, followed by Bonnie and Rosie. There was a scuffle, high pitched yaps and a long shriek that ended abruptly.
Fumbling to turn on the bedside light, I pulled the covers tightly around my chest and peered cautiously over the other side of the mattress catching the triumphant eyes of Bonnie holding a dead rat in her jaws.
A field rat had found a small hole in the bottom of the french door screen and had worked his way through into the house.
Jumping out of bed and and trying to back out of the room, each step I took was followed by an advancing one by the dogs.
“Take that thing outside!” I whispered hoarsely on the edge of hysteria, to Bonnie who, naturally, dropped the rat at my bare feet, wagging her tail in expectation of praise.
“Oh, dear God in Heaven…” I sighed and, rushing to the mudroom to grab a plastic grocery bag, put my hand on the outside of the bag, and grimacing, scooped it up and deposited the still warm body outside.
Closing the french doors firmly, I realized with a shudder that what I had felt leaping in the boxsprings was not Tippy at all, but rather, a rodent scrambling for his life followed by a pack of domesticated pets for whom Christmas had come just a bit early.
“Funny,” said Paul, hours later. “I didn’t hear a thing. Must’ve slept right through it.”

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