There I was, 3 AM, ear pressed against a glass, my body flat against the cold hardwood floor. Even the attending feline expressed uncertainty in her curious, short "Mrmp," as she sniffed me to ensure I was alive and didn't have any food. After that, she used me as a rug, walking up and down my back and legs while purring.
"Quiet," I told the cat. "I'm trying to listen."
My glass's open end was against the floor, a high tech listening device to help me hear noises under the floor board. Hearing my digestive system gurgling, my heartbeat and my breathing, I remarked to myself that my body seems very loud in the middle of the night.
Before then, I'd been in the office recliner, restless, awake, reading and watching television. We've been dealing with rats under the house, part of larger invasion force striking our neighborhood. It's another how and why whodunit. For now, I was worried about eradicating them. I'd already been below, confirming their damaging visits, groaning at their gifts.
My wife wanted them out. NOW. She was all for buying poison. Yes, poison will kill the rats but may cause collateral damage, killing or sickening other animals who consume them. I'm seeking less violent means -- electronic and ultrsonic emissions, organic spreads with predators' urine (minty fresh). But as I watched television and read, I kept hearing noises.
The clock was ticking. Does that clock always click so loudly?
Or is that something else? (Cue dramatic music.)
Was that a slithering sound that I heard, perhaps a crawling or a squeak? Muting the television, I listened and heard...nothing. My keen thinking concluded that the television, with digital sound and multiple speakers to create a surround sound effect, was driving me nuts.
So were other noises. It had been a warm day. Now it was a cold night. Wind was bunting up against windows and siding. Sporadic rain fell. The house was thumping, clumping, cracking and creaking. Each sound bolted through me, spreading alarm, is that a rat?
So there I was, on the floor with a glass, listening.
I thought, someone seeing me now after witnessing me walking along the road today, laughing and talking to myself, would firmly decide that I'm deranged.
I could not argue against it. In fact, I argued for it. An issue was obsessing me. Noises were become phantom threats. The entire episode was occupying my mind and being, keeping me awake and pre-occupied from doing anything. Echos of Poe reveberated through me. I can easily understand how sanity can be redefined by obsession.
Of course, I'd also been thinking about murder that week.
Contemplating our rash of bad house related incidents, my wife had volunteered that maybe it was karma for us, or that we'd subconsciously created the bad situation through our fears.
There's a thin veil between my writing mind and my life mind. The veil blows back easily.
So when my wife said that, the wind blew, the veil parted, and a murder story blew in about a woman who thought her husband's disease was spreading through their house, to their pets and to her. She began plotting ways to kill him to save the rest.
It's not far fetched. A classic killer profile is the middle aged white man, judging himself a failure, who kills his pets and family before taking a weapon and going after others. Women are much rarer in this situation. I inserted a female as the killer because it would be an interesting variation.
Back on the floor, I came to my senses and went to bed. In bed, I realized how much quieter the house seemed with the television off and removed from the ticking clock. I also grasped a critical architectural difference coupled with the weather situation; I'd been hearing rain against the window and in the gutters when I was out front in the office.
So reassured, the house silent with the cats and my wife settling into positions against me, I drifted toward sleep.
Until I heard a thump.....
Causes Michael Seidel Supports
Kiva, Women's International League for Peace and Freedom, Propublica.org, Doctors Without Borders, GreaterGood.com