Tuesday, November 08, 2005

So I feel slightly better today. Not because my mutant mucus ball has subsided. Nor because my coughing spasms have decreased. No, no. It would be because in the span of 3.2 seconds last night, I had the EVER LOVING BEJESUS SCARED OUT OF ME which COMPLETELY CLEARED MY COBWEBBED AND BEFUDDLED BRAIN and has left me with the added benefit of a less feverish outlook on the world.

What could have scared me, you ask? I mean, I'm a grownasswoman. Grownasswomen don't jump out of their skin at a moments notice. No sir. We keep that skin firmly attached under penalty of death or extreme maiming to the person or persons responsible for making us jump out of it. And so here is a relation of last night's events which forced me OUT of my skin:

At ten o'clock last night I snuggled down under my covers and flicked on my bedside lamp, intent on finishing the last 100 pages of my book. My face had been scrubbed, my teeth brushed and my hair pulled back in it's customary bedtime ponytail. I'd spritzed my sheets with lavender spray and taken a fairly large swallow of my codeine-laced cough medicine. My cats, normally wont to parade around the house chasing imaginary monsters, had snuggled up by my feet, the Fat One stretching to his full length with front paws resting on my duvet covered knee and the Deceptively Cute One curled between my feet in a tight round ball with neither face nor paw nor tail visible.

I read steadily until slightly before eleven when both cats simultaneously roused themselves from slumber, ears twitching and alert. After several minutes of what I figured was normal Unexplainable Cat Behavior, they both took flying leaps off the edge of the bed and raced into the living room, where I heard them stop at the front of the room where the hardwood ends and the rug begins. I half expected them to start their usual war over who gets the One Super Important Cat Toy, even though there exists a whole plethora from which to choose. That day's special toy had been a tattered black faux-rat, eyes long chewed off and tail a ragged mess of clumped fur and bare faux-rat-skin.
I read on, having long become accustomed to the strange nightly forays the cats make without regard to my need for sleep or quiet. It was then that I heard a strange sound emanating from the living room area.
At first I discounted the noise, assuming the cats were scratching against the window or that they'd found something amusing to bat across the skiddable hardwood floors. But the noise continued, growing louder with each passing second.

When I heard the window screen start to rattle in earnest I immediately slipped off the side of my bed, sliding my feet into my shoes. Crouched beside the bed, hidden from all windows, I grabbed the knife I keep between my box spring and mattress. Though I know I'm more likely to be injured while brandishing the knife in front of an intruder, it gives me some measure of peace that I have a weapon within reach. The knife has been in my family for over 50 years, it's handle wooden and smooth with a strong steel blade imbedded in the base. The blade has little give and is long enough to do damage but short enough for me to easily maneuver.

I duck into the hallway and crouch again, peering around the opening into the kitchen and listening for the persistent rattling that grows louder with each step I take. It isn't coming from the kitchen window I decide and creep further down the hallway and into the foyer, pressing myself against the wall, arm by my side and the knife gripped in my hand. The apartment is deceptively silent, the cats stationed on either side of the living room entrance with eyes glowing green in their motionless bodies.

The screen continues to rattle and I can feel my hearing becoming more acute, my eyes adjusting to the dark. I can just make out a shape on the other side of the curtains, can hear his breath as he continues to struggle with the screen. He manages to free a corner and the breath leaves my body in a near silent exhalation. I had so desperately wanted my fears to remain unconfirmed, for the rattle to be just another gust of wind, just another creaky sound old buildings are so prone to emit. In the span of two seconds I presented to myself every foreseeable option. I could remain motionless against the wall and become paralyzed by my own fear. I could take the emergency key I have hidden by the door and race out the front door, letting the intruder continue his struggle with the window. These will not work.

And so I opened my mouth and screamed as loud as I could, my voice breaking over my abused throat, sounding ragged and wild. I flicked on the living room light, keeping the majority of my body hidden behind the foyer wall while still peering cautiously around the corner, ready for the breaking of glass and my sprint through the front door.

Instead, I heard the rapid staccato of dried leaves yielding under heavy footsteps.

I moved back into the hallway, knife still in hand, listening for any further disturbance. I quietly moved into each room, turning on the overhead lights. I became conscious of weight in my pocket. My cell phone, I thought.

I debated what I should do. I'd scared the intruder away but I wasn't comfortable that he wouldn't come back. I'm a girl. I'm alone. And all I've got to protect me are two cats and a bloody knife.

So back pressed against the wall I called Lilleeeee, hoping she was home, home being the apartment directly above mine. She answered, but she was 30 minutes away from town, visiting a friend. So I hung up and called the police, actually looking forward to sturdy men in uniforms, equipped with guns and flashlights and cars with flashing blue lights.

And you know what?


I noticed the first three cops while peering out of the blinds of my front window. The next two showed up less than a minute later, walking the perimeter of the building no less than four times before retiring to sit in their patrol car for an entire hour, giving me the strength to finally make my way back to bed. They found only a half-torn screen pulled from my window and a collection of beer bottles. The group of three had all shaken my hand before leaving, wishing me a good night.

And so I slipped my wood-handled knife back into it's spot between the mattresses, picked both cats up and sat down on the bed with their warm furry bodies pressed against my chest. I sat them down, grabbing the codeine cough syrup that I had left sitting on the night stand. I took my second dose of the night, less than an hour from my first. And for the second- and what I hoped was the last- time that evening, I snuggled under the covers while my newly dubbed Attack Cats resumed their pre-disturbance poses, the Fat One rubbing his head against my knee before drifting off into kitty cat slumber.


meghansdiscontent said...

So I was totally going to post on my blog how I almost died of a heart attack last night, which I truly did . . . but it seems TOTALLY incomprehensible now that I've read this!!!! WHAT THE BUDDHA???????

Did your neighbors hear/see anything? Were they terrorized??

Jenni said...

Yikes, scary! Thank goodness for those kitties. They totally deserve new less tattered kitty-chew toys after that. It's also nice to hear that cops were there with a quickness.

Oswald Croll said...

Thank goodness for the guard-cats. Who says all they can do is sleep and lick themselves.
Glad you're OK. May I suggest that knife be transformed into a baseball bat..... or rocket launcher.