I sat straight up in bed. Something, a noise maybe, a feeling, an instinct woke me up. The projected image of the time on my ceiling read 3:36 AM. I tried my best to silence my breathing and quiet my pulse which were the only noises I could hear beside the soft hum of the quiet baby monitor. I held my breath and listened towards the boys room. Did one of them cry out? No, nothing but silence from the direction of their room.
Did you ever try to listen harder? You attempt to stretch the muscles in your neck and face in an effort to squint your ears hoping that will be able to make you listen farther. I tried that. Nothing. I laid back down. A minute passed and I started to drift back to sleep when I heard the noise again. I shot back up. The noise was coming from downstairs. Something downstairs was moving. We lost the dog a few weeks ago and we no longer have any cats. What the hell was moving? My heart raced as a I did a quick mental check to make sure I was truly awake and not dreaming. Damn it, I was awake.
I jumped out of bed and put on my glasses. I hate having poor vision. I grabbed a rather large utility knife that I keep stashed in my room and I headed for the steps. I paused, a few steps down, to debate whether I should call 911. My heart racing, my breathing quick and shallow, I descended one more stair, when a loud electronic chirp pierced the dark silence. I stifled a small yelp, my heart stopped. I felt a wave of relief pass over me as I realized that the chirp was from Lauren's cell phone. She must have missed a text message or something. The movement I heard was probably the phone vibrating in her purse which was hanging in the foyer closet. I sighed. I walked down the steps to the closet so I could silence the phone.
I flipped the light switch at the bottom of the staircase. The foyer lit up and splashed light into the darkened kitchen. I turned at the bottom of the steps and I stopped cold. I thought I saw movement in the kitchen. My feet felt frozen. They warmed when I realized I was catching my reflection in the kitchen bay window. I turned profile and sucked in my gut. I shook my head knowing I had gained back about 5 pounds of the weight I worked so hard to lose. I chucked to myself at the fact that I was standing in my underwear holding a knife. How embarrassing would it be to get into a fight with a burglar while wearing nothing but boxer briefs. I don't even like arguing in just my underwear. (Most of Lauren and my personal conversations happened either at night right before bed or in the morning when we first wake up. It is the only time we can talk privately. If Lauren and I ever get into an argument or disagreement it is during this time when we are in bed or getting ready for bed. I always get up and put pants on when we argue. She laughs at this. The first time I did it, she asked me what I was doing and I said "I can't argue in my underwear." Which would be the title of my book on relationships if I ever had a book on relationships.)
I reached into Lauren's purse to silence the phone when I heard movement from the kitchen. It sounded like some one brushed up against a wall. It was a faint noise but I definitely heard it. My whole body went numb with fear. I mentally counted to three and jumped into the kitchen with the knife outstretched ahead of me. I flipped on the light hoping to startle whoever was in there. The problem is our light in the kitchen is on a dial dimmer switch so the whole flick the switch /startle the intruder was more like a turn the dial and slowly increase the light output and un-romanticize the intruder. No one was there.
I searched the entire house, all windows and doors were locked, all closets and burglar hiding spaces were empty. I was confident that there were no intruders. The noise I heard must have been the wind. I went back to bed.
The next day, late in the afternoon, Lauren told me she heard noises coming from the walls between our kitchen and dining room. What kind of noises I asked. She told me "critter like" noises. That night I sat and listened to the wall. There were definite critter like noises coming from the wall. But these were big critters. It sounded like something was trying to climb up the inside of the wall. The noise was the same noise I heard the night before. There is a wooded area behind our house so it could be anything. I thought it was likely squirrels or moles or possible a raccoon.
The next day I climbed down into the crawl space under the house to investigate. I don't like critters. Underneath the kitchen area I discovered a hole that could allow an R.O.U.S. into our house. Everyone knows that R.O.U.S.es are the third danger of the fire swamp. My heart started racing, my feet grew cold. I was more scared than the night I thought there was a robber in my house. I followed the path that I thought a critter would follow from the hole to the wall where the noise came from. I scanned with the flashlight and searched and searched. Just as I was underneath the area where the dishwasher sits, it started through a rinse cycle. The noise from the dishwasher startled me so much that I may have tinkled a tiny bit. I was thankful that I was wearing pants this time.
I searched the entire crawl space and found nothing. I used some steel wool and Great Stuff and sealed every possible hole that could be used by a critter. I just hope that I didn't trap the varmint in the house, and if I did, I hope it is big enough to scare away any burglars.