Thursday, July 2, 2015

STRANGER IN THE NIGHT




I was planning on writing a sweet, summery, innocuous post in honor of upcoming Independence Day - - but my harrowing adventures here on Hell Mountain are much more interesting.

Let's do a little recap of my recent days for the uninitiated. I was without water in the house for a week, due to a plumbing malfunction (I lifted "malfunction" from NASA's vocabulary). Despite having no water inside, there's plenty of it outside. It never stops raining here. And I mean NEVER. I suppose the highlight of my entire week was when I found the dead mouse in my bed, tucked under my pillow (a gift from one of my cats).

If you read my blog regularly, you wouldn't miss these things and I wouldn't be forced to recapitulate (admonishment from the author).

The plumber came yesterday morning and fixed my pipe (no sexual connotations are intended) and also the faucets to the washing machine hookup. So now - at least for the moment - I have water again. And I can wash clothes. Unfortunately, I can't dry them because I still have to change the power cord on the clothes dryer, but that's another story for another time. I can change the power cord myself. 

Despite projecting an annoying aura of helplessness, I do possess some mechanical abilities. I'm not just another pretty face.

What about the stranger in the night?
I'm getting there. Good stories always require a subtle buildup to induce tension. I'm assuming that you're getting tense.

Late last night I was in the usual company of insomnia. In order to while away the witching hours, I was watching some creepy murder mysteries that I found on YouTube (I was using my laptop in the kitchen).
By the way, it's "while away" - not "wile away". I just checked to be sure.

The rain is pouring and thunder is rumbling continuously. I'm immersed in the murder mystery and the isolated danger of this dark mountainous wilderness. It's deliciously atmospheric.

Suddenly.......

I hear loud, persistent scratching noises coming from one of the bedrooms. Despite being small, this house has three bedrooms. The largest is my bedroom. The second largest contains one of my pianos and some bookcases. I use the smallest bedroom for storage. That's where the noises are coming from.


At first I ignore the noises, convinced that it's one of the cats. My oldest cat Scratch particularly enjoys rummaging around at night, and she's often in that small bedroom.

Somehow, the noises don't sound like a cat. My musician ears are always fine-tuned to sounds, and these noises weren't induced by a feline. Rattling, bumping, and scraping accompanied the scratching.

Perhaps my cat is chasing another mouse (I'm trying to reassure myself).

A few loud bangs really get my attention. I immediately jump up and do a feline head count. Scruffy and Bosco are asleep in my bedroom (where they usually are). Scratch is asleep in the living room. All three cats are accounted for.

Now I'm seriously worried. The noises in the bedroom are increasing, and it sure as hell ain't no mouse.

Summoning the little courage that I have, I grab a broom and go to the bedroom. I switch on the light. I see a large flash of fur scurry into one of the corners, behind a pile of junk.

Holy shit!!!! 
I instinctively turn out the light and close the door. Whatever it is, it's now trapped in the bedroom. I'm admittedly shaken, wondering how I should deal with the situation. The interloper looked fairly large. A broom and a flashlight won't be sufficient ammunition.
   
Yea, I know - - this post is getting irritatingly long - - but what the hell, it's free entertainment.

All right, I'll speed it up and cut to the chase.

There is unnerving silence. The bedroom is quiet. And then I hear scurrying and scratching near the washing machine - - which is closer to the kitchen (and not in the bedroom!).

I leap up and look behind the washer.
I'm face to face with an opossum! 

This guy looks very similar to the one I encountered



"Opossum" is the sophisticated term. In this part of the country it's "Possum". Great for eatin', makes a good stew.

He somehow went through the bedroom closet, via the water heater route, and exited into the laundry area. It's a complication that I won't detail.

The possum is kinda large. Kinda cute (in an unnerving way). Definitely something you don't want in your spare bedroom.
I open the back door (which is right by the laundry area) and eventually manage to swoosh it out with the broom.

Possums aren't aggressive or particularly dangerous but they can act vicious. They seldom bite even though they have about fifty sharp teeth. They seldom have rabies but they carry ticks, fleas, and other undesirable things. They're dang good at playing dead when they're frightened. And they like to eat cat food.



They like to live under porches - which is where this one resides. He (she?) got into the house through the open clothes dryer vent. I don't have the dryer hooked up and the vent is uncovered.

I definitely have it covered now, and I'm going to get some screening to put over it. I had carelessly left it uncovered for about two days.

Hopefully this midnight intruder won't make a repeat performance.



This is what I'm going to look like in a few
 years if I keep living in the mountain wilderness

Note:

This wasn't my first encounter with possums. I was very familiar with them when I lived in the Missouri Ozarks. And I had them in my garage when I lived in Texas.

In Texas I also had a snake in my kitchen, lizards in the silverware drawer, and turkey buzzards in the back yard.
Not to mention scorpions.........







 
  

28 comments:

  1. Bet you haven't seen a scorpion yet.. and that possum has really ugly toes...up here in PA they are possums too.

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  2. I've seen just about everything but a scorpion. I'm praying that they don't reside in Tennessee.

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  3. Yep I think you're going to be a mountain man with a possum or a coon for a pet.

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    1. I have a strange feeling that I'll have more than ONE possum for a pet.

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  4. That would have scared the (insert rude word here) out of me too! I saw one on a huge oak tree in our garden in California. Almost cute but the tail is too rat like to be fully cute. If I recall, they have very bad eye sight?

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    1. You're right, Craig - the rat-like tail is what greatly subtracts from their cuteness.

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  5. Poor myopic 'possums tend to ram right into things when alarmed. You must be an accomplished broom-coaxer to have herded the little guy out sans mishap. And I delight in your post-title, things don't get much "STRANGER IN THE NIGHT" than that. Maybe Sinatra was singing about 'possums.

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    1. It's surprising what can be accomplished with a simple broom when hysteria reigns supreme. I had Sinatra in mind when I chose the title.

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  6. My city boy macho partner was so freaked out when he saw a possum on our deck (which, oddly, was in the city) that I think there was a brief period of screaming like a little girl. I was pretty sure he had been jumped by one of the neighborhood meth-heads or something, at first. He then referred to it as a "feral pig", which made me laugh so hard that I think there was a brief period of peeing like a little girl. ~~~ NB

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    1. I've been through so many horrifying things in Texas and Tennessee that I think I've lost my ability to scream.

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    2. Jon, did I miss a post where you got to the bottom of those mysterious blue lights in the woods? If not, please elucidate us when you can. Happy 4th! ~~~ NB

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    3. NB, no you didn't miss a post. One of my readers left an interesting comment (on "Ghosts of the Forest") which revealed that there are 19 species of fireflies and one of them (which is found in Tennessee) emits a blueish light. That probably solves the mystery.

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  7. That must have been really a scare. Well hopefully there won't be a repeat intrusion.

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    1. It was a big surprise, to say the least, and I'm going to take every precaution to make sure it doesn't happen again.

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  8. Replies
    1. It would afford better results than a broom and a flashlight.

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  9. Welcome to Tennessee! I figured it was either a possum or raccoon. I'm glad you got it out of the house without mishap, and found its entry point so you could seal it off. Our friends there are always finding some kind of critter in their house, and in nice weather, like to leave their un-screened back doors open, which invites even more of them in. During one of our visits there, a bird flew inside, and the four of us were chasing it around the house at 3AM. (Much laughter was involved, as you can imagine.) After that, we gave them a net to catch intruding birds, and they've used it multiple times, too. Even used it once to nab a squirrel.

    Happy Fourth, cowboy!


















    ReplyDelete
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    1. The intrusive bird story is funny! I wouldn't DARE leave an un-screened door open where I live. With my luck, I'd get Bigfoot.

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  10. Sounds terrifying, at least until you got to the bit about it being a possum

    At least it wasn't carrying an axe. ! :D

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    1. That's funny! Thankfully no ax, but I'll bet it was carrying fleas.

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  11. Were it not for your comic asides, Jon, I was becoming seriously spooked.
    So relieved it wasn't something more menacing. In fact, these little fellows look downright cute! (...says the 'city girl.')

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    1. I'm glad you appreciate my comic asides (you're probably one of the few). Possums do have cute faces - - I just don't like their tails, which make them resemble rats.

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  12. possum...we got 'em here too. and so happy to hear you have water again!

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    1. The only thing worse than being without water is having a possum running rampant in the bedroom.

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  13. You poor soul dealing with that mountain wildlife. Frightening for sure.Thank goodness your cats did not try to tangle with it or you would have had a bigger problem. I hate possums. I had an encounter with one in my garage. He was in a box rummaging around. Those pink beady eyes scared the bejesus out of me, so I locked him inside, intending to have my hubby take him outside to release him. Before that happened he had eaten his way out of the top of the box. That is fair warning to you because yours could get back through that dryer vent if he wants something bad enough. Be careful.

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    1. I was really worried about my cats getting into a scuffle with it. I'm also worried about the possum getting inside again. They are crafty and persistent.

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  14. Replies
    1. I'm getting too many four-footed friends. I'd prefer some with two feet.

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I love comments. Go ahead and leave one - I won't bite. But make sure you have a rabies shot just in case.