Friday, September 5, 2008

How to Fight a Wild Animal in your House, and Win

It all started while we were watching a recorded version of John McCain's speech. It was late. We were folding laundry and hurling insults at the TV.

"*I'M* for change," McCain insisted.
"Idiot!" I ranted. "No you're not! Stop lying to people."
"I'm a war vet and that means you should vote for me," he continued. I'm paraphrasing but whatever.
"No it doesn't!" I throw a pair of socks at the television screen. "It just means you would be really good at Survivor."

This goes on for some time and, meanwhile, in the floor, Wormwood is knocking things off of tables, as usual. He skitters into the next room, chasing a cat toy with a bell in it. I hear what sounds like a marker rolling around on the floor and think to myself that I'll have to dig it out from under something dusty later and roll my eyes. My mind vaguely registers the familiar sounds of the house at night -- Worm destroying something, the ancient air conditioner wheezing in its struggle to cool our old house, the creak of the wooden floorboards, and a cat crunching her dry food. I pay very little attention to any of this.

The speech ends and Andrew and I exchange our exasperations. While the marker-rolling, air-wheezing, and floor-creaking have all stopped, the catfood-crunching has escalated to a noise level I've never heard before. There's now an added bag-rustling which suggests one of my animals is about to get into trouble. No cat has ever eaten out of the cat-food bag. I head to the kitchen.

Allie is standing in front of the washing room with not one hair out of place. She looks at me calmly and raises an eyebrow. I see a big furry body submerged in the supersized bag of cat food and I at first assume that Chloe has finally lost all self control and is eating her weight in Purina. Allie's look contributes to my assumption; I swear if she could talk, she'd say, "Well, we finally lost her." But on a second glance, she could also be saying, "So I see you've brought ANOTHER animal into the house and told it that it could live in the food bag. How like you."

Because it's not a cat in the Purina -- it's a possum. And it's making a lot of noise.

I utter a string of curses I rarely invoke and the little weasel pokes his eyes up out of the bag, his cheeks puffed out with food, and stops chewing. "Oh hey," he seems to say. "Didn't think you were up."

He reluctantly pulls himself out of the cat food and hides behind the washer (as he's doing in this picture). He cannot get back into the hole he has come in through; it's high on the wall, and he seems to have fallen out of it. We are at a stalemate.

So Andrew sets up a mousetrap-like maze in the kitchen with boxes, baby gates, and laundry baskets, all the while shouting all the diseases these demons carry. He stands on the washing machine with a baseball bat and a broom, and I stand on the stove island with the same tools. When it comes time to act -- no one wants to touch it, and both of us are only halfway convinced that they don't jump or fly -- Andrew shoves it out from behind the washer with a broom. I expect it to hiss and try to frighten me, but it just shuffles out, as if exasperated, and pauses next to the food and kind of looks up at Andrew, like, "Can I just pause for a bite? Just a small one?" The answer is of course, no, and I push him in the backside with my broom toward the back door.

I don't like touching him at all but he follows the maze of boxes and baskets well enough and out the door, which has been propped open for him. We wearily construct a hack-job of patchwork over the hole behind the washing machine (this "hole" is really where the pipes enter the house) using leftover boards from crown molding construction projects and duct tape. We sink into bed about 1 AM and wonder, how do these things happen to us?


Anna said...

Oh, holy hell. I can't believe that all the cats were so calm about this!
And no, things like this happen to me, too. I reached into the dog food bag once and came up with a mouse, not a plastic cup with which to scoop food. We both screamed.

The Medievalist said...

Wild animals are just hell when they get indoors. My mother was scared by a mouse one time while washing dishes. She jumped, the mouse ran, and my mother landed square on it. Mush! I had to clean that one up. My mother was shaking so bad she couldn't hold the broom and dust pan. I used a putty knife to scrape up the little fellow.