|It sounded like a wild cat!|
My mother did not call me often while I was at school. (I was a guidance counselor in a middle school.) So, when I got a call from her and heard her frightened voice, my ears perked to attention.
“Jackie, there is something in the house,” her quivering voice whispered through the phone. “I don’t know what it is, but it is growling and hissing.”
“Are you sure it is not one of the cats?” I asked. I guess that was a silly question, but it filled in some time for me to figure out how to handle this call. I did not want her to panic any more, but I was concerned. I was twenty-five minutes away and could not be of much help.
“No, the cats are upstairs with me. Oh there is goes again!” I could even hear it…a low growl that sounded like a trapped, scared animal.
Before I write more, I need to describe the condo. It had an open design with open stairs going to the top floor. The top floor had two bedrooms and two bathrooms. Of course, there were doors to these rooms, but there was no door at the stairs. The middle level had the living room, dining room, kitchen, breakfast nook and half bath. The open stairs divided the living room and dining room. There was an enclosed patio outside of the breakfast nook and a deck overlooking a ravine outside the living room. The open stairs to the lower level also had no door and went directly to the family room where mother had her sewing area on one side and I had my computer on the other.
Mother spent many hours in the family room creating new outfits with her Bernina sewing machine. She even got comfortable using the computer for email and sending instant messages to my sister and Maggie and Nathan.
“Oh no!…Aztec is going downstairs!!” These words got my brain back in action. Aztec was our male cat and I was sure he was headed down for a fight.
“Mother, call Kevin!” Kevin lived about ten minutes away, but he was always available when we needed a helping hand. That was still ten minutes where she was in danger.
“Jackie, I already called the Condo Association and they told me to call the Pest and Animal Control. I talked to a nice lady but had to hang up because the growling started again.”
“Mother, call Sally. She lives next door and she can come right over. Maybe you should go to her place until Kevin gets there.”
Just then there was a loud screeching that sent shivers up my spine. “Call, Sally and Kevin now and then call me right back.” I hung up the phone and wondered if I should drive home or wait. One of the science teachers, Andy, happened to come to my office and I told him about the wild animal. He lived out in the country and knew a lot about wildlife so I asked him if he had any ideas of what it could be.
“We see raccoons, squirrels, deer, feral cats, groundhogs, and foxes that come up from the ravine…but we have never had any attempt to get into the house. Maybe Mother did not close the door completely. She often sweeps the patio in the morning…but still, why would a wild animal come inside!”
The phone rang again. It was Mother.
“Sally is on her way and so is Kevin. It’s kind of quiet now.” Of course, the minute she said that, another hissing and growling sound came from the basement. I had Andy listen. His face looked as puzzled as I felt.
“Here comes Aztec running up the stairs with his tail all puffed up!” I felt so sorry for Mother. Her voice was shaking…so unlike her. “Sally’s here! She has a broom! I’m going to hang up now and call you back later.
So there we were, Andy and me, looking at each other wondering what to do.
“Jackie, it could be an opossum. I just haven’t heard a raccoon sound like that. Do you want me to get a net and go over there? I could find someone to cover my class.”
“Thanks, Andy. Kevin is going to be there too…so let’s wait. I’m sure Sally will get mother out of the house. I’m just concerned about the cats…”
Andy went back to his classroom and I stayed in my office staring at the phone. I was getting ready to leave for home when the phone rang. It was Mother.
“It’s okay, Jackie,” she said light heartedly. In fact she was chuckling making it difficult to understand what she was saying. Finally, in her own words:
“When Sally got here the growling from the family room was loud and scared her too. She decided to wait until Kevin got there so that they could work as a team. Kevin got here and was carrying a shovel. He looked so nice in his suit and tie. We waited for the animal to growl again, but this time it screeched. I could tell that Kevin was surprised and that he had probably thought I was exaggerating…but now he knew. He said he would head down the stairs first and Sally could follow if she wanted to. He would try to get to the door and open it so that the animal could run out.
“HISS GRRROWL” Oh the poor trapped animal…I just wanted it out of the house. Anyway, Kevin slowly descended the stairs…one step and then rest…one more step…rest again…trying to look into the family room without getting attacked…all the time holding the shovel for protection. Sally was close behind him with broom in hand. It was like a choreographed scene…they moved together in time…one-step rest…one-step rest. I could not just stand and watch them so I joined….but carried nothing for protection. I was gripping the handrail tightly as I watched Kevin get to the bottom step and move toward the sounds.
It must be in the fireplace. Remember, Geoff opened it last time he was here and there was a dead bird? But no…the fireplace was empty of wild animals. “SCREECH!!!!” I feared the animal was about to attack Kevin, but instead he started to laugh.
‘Come here, Maxine,’ he said to me. I went down and saw the cutest little Siamese cat on the computer monitor jumping around and chasing a mouse. It was the screen saver that Jackie had gotten the night before. “GROWL” again came…but this time it was from the speakers. But why would this screen saver sound like a wild animal!
Kevin solved that. “Maxine, you have the volume at full blast. When I turn it down, it sounds like a normal cat.” I explained to him that I always turn up the volume when I am not in the room so that I can hear if someone sends me an instant message. We all just sat down and laughed as we snacked on some banana bread and coffee. It was at that time that the Animal Control people called me to tell me that they were sending a group to capture the animal. They were quite concerned because I had hung up and when they tried to call back, the phone was always busy. The woman sounded quite relieved when I answered but I have to admit, I felt a little foolish telling her to call back the cavalry…that the wild animal was just the computer.”
So, that is the story of the wild animal. Oh how I wish my Uncle Frank were still alive so that he could draw a comic of Kevin, Sally and Mother creeping down the stairs…one holding a shovel, another holding a broom and Mother bringing up the rear with a look of fright on her face. He would have the computer monitor out of their sight with a growling sound coming from it. I can at least have the picture in my mind even though I don’t have the talent to draw it.