Friday, April 25, 2008

Things That Go Bump in the Night

I was awakened yesterday morning by the characteristic squeak of our bedroom door. The squeak is not all that unusual, as one of us will occasionally get up in the middle of the night to use the bathroom. However, this particular squeak arrived in my unconsciousness out of order. If Deb is the one who gets up, her movement wakes me up first, and then I hear the squeak of the door when I am awake. So to a person who is aware of the order of things, even while asleep, this particular squeak was particularly jarring.

While I was still clawing my way into a state of semi-consciousness, a three letter word floated about just beyond my reach. I think it was repeated a couple times before finally sinking into the mire far enough to be recognizable, but it eventually got there.

It was a distinctly male voice.

"Dad!" the voice said.

It took a few seconds to assemble all the pieces of my mental facilities together. The fog was still pretty thick. Auditory cortex... check! Prefrontal cortex... check! Brain stem... check! Primary visual cortex... Primary visual cortex.... Oh! check! Motor cortex... having a little hard time of it, but, check! Cerebellum... down!

"Dad, I need some help!"

All those brain facilities that have lurched to a start have been brought up so fast that they are now overreacting. Stark visions of fire, flood, ceiling collapse and other apocalyptic events swirled about as I struggled out of bed. Josh has been in his new bedroom for about a week, so I imagine there could be many things that go terribly wrong that I haven't even thought of.

I sure wish that cerebellum would come on line. I could use a little balance about now.

"Dad, there's a mouse in my bedroom!"

A mouse. No fires, no broken pipes and flooding, no major gas leaks, no cataclysmic events. I just went through the laborious process of brain initialization and startup at 4:30 in the morning for a mouse?

I followed him downstairs to his bedroom, grabbing the first weapon I could find along the way--one of Deb's shoes. I entered his bedroom, armed with the shoe, ready to do battle with a mouse. I squinted in the dazzling brilliance, not able to focus on anything at all, as Josh described hearing the mouse running back and forth beside his mattress. I imagine it was a little disconcerting, hearing the little rodent scrabbling about so close to his ears. I wouldn't be able to sleep either.

We drew up our battle plan. He would pull the mattress away from the wall and I would go in for the kill. I held the shoe high while he yanked the mattress up. No mouse. We searched the rest of the room for our prey. Nothing. I finally told him to get some sleep. We'll set traps or mouse bait in the morning.

I rolled back into bed, but sleep had long since fled. Deb noticed several minutes later that Josh's light had come back on. It was on for a while and then was back off.

When I arrived home from work that day, we pieced together the rest of the story. The mouse was active again immediately after Josh got back in bed so he got back up and managed to corner it against the wall and then trap it in a small bucket. He then carried his captive into the garage and left it there, where it later escaped. He also discovered that it was not a mouse but a vole.

It didn't take too long to figure out what a vole, which normally does not live in a house, was doing in Joshua's bedroom. It was rather warm the night before so we told him to open his window. He discovered that the screen I had bought for the window was the wrong size and could not be used so we told him to just open the window anyway because there are no mosquitoes or bugs at this time of year.

The thought of rodents coming in through the window didn't even cross my mind. As near as I can figure, the vole had fallen into his window well during the night and could not climb back up the smooth plastic sides. So it took the only path available to it--Joshua's open window.

This evening was rather warm again, so I went down in Joshua's room to open the window. I had looked for a screen at Lowe's this morning but they were out of stock. So I made sure to check all the corners of the window well before opening the window.

This time it was a young rabbit that was huddled in a corner. I removed the rabbit but wisely left the window closed. I can just about imagine what a rabbit would do for someone's sleep.

I am also wondering just what's next... a raccoon? Or maybe a snake?

No comments: