I was home alone, writing in the office over our garage, when I heard a noise. It sounded like a clanging, something metal on metal. I lifted my eyes and turned my head from the computer screen, stopping the tap-tap of fingers on the keyboard. Turning my head towards the door, I strained to make sense of the sound. It was a sudden sound, and now, suddenly, it had stopped.
The garbage men, I decided. Only the noise came from the wrong part of the house -- and the wrong time of day, at 11 a.m. -- for it to be a sanitation sort of sound. Nevertheless, I convinced myself that it was, and, calming the part of my brain that was prone to panicking, returned to my writing.
Ten or 15 minutes passed and then there it was again. A loud noise. This time it arrived with more of a rattle, like things falling down, crashing over. I went to the window to see if our neighbor was perhaps breaking dishes in her driveway. She was not, unsurprisingly. I gingerly stepped out of the office and crept down the back stairs into the kitchen. Silence. Still and quiet. I returned to the office.
Eventually, my stomach told me it was time for lunch. I went back down to the kitchen, having forgotten about the troublesome noise, and made myself a PB & J on whole wheat. I grabbed a glass of water, and headed towards the TV in the sun room.
To reach the sun room from the kitchen, one has to go through the front hall and living room. But some inner voice was telling me not to. I pushed it aside. However, with each step I took towards the sun room, this weird, white-hot fear grew white-hotter. You know how, when you're watching a horror movie, the young girl shouldn't go into the abandoned cabin/pool house/woods but she does anyway? You know how, when that happens, you sit in the audience and silently call her an idiot? Well, I am that kind of an idiot. I kept walking.
I kept walking, even though a sixth sense told me, very clearly, that something in the sun room was... how should I put this?... breathing. Alive.
I was one step away from entering the sun room now. My right foot moved forward, and then my left stepped down into the room. My curiosity was piqued. I had to know what was waiting for me on the other side.
The first thing I noticed was that three small, metal nesting tables had fallen over. Ah, I reasoned, my inner coward relaxing. The noise came from the tables falling over.
Why that calmed me, I'm not sure. Because, of course, the question really was: what toppled them over?
Was it, perhaps, the black squirrel perched on my couch?
Argh! There was a black squirrel perched on my couch! Just sitting there and staring at me!
In the horror movie in my mind, he was going to lunge at my throat and eat me alive. But in reality, he didn't do that. He remained frozen in place. We stared at each other.
"Squirrel!" I screamed, to nobody and everybody. I turned and speed walked out of the room, still clutching my sandwich and water.
"Squirrel!" I moaned, disgusted and freaked out. I speed walked myself back through the living room, main hall, and through the kitchen, heel-toe-heel-toe heel-toe, stopping briefly to deposit my lunch in the sink and to grab the telephone before rushing out through the garage and into the safety of the great outdoors.
I called 911. Someone picked up right away. "This is the New York State Police, please state the nature of your emergency." Nature, indeed.
"Squirrel!" I shouted. "There is a squirrel in my house!"
"So this is a non-emergency," the dispatcher stated.
Not to me it isn't, lady, I wanted to say. But I was not beyond being somewhat rational, and so I responded with, "I guess not, really." I don't know who I thought would answer when I called 911, but I figured the person might have been more grossed out for me.
Cool as a cucumber, she suggested I call my local police who would put me in touch with animal control services. She seemed really capable. I vowed to call her back should I ever have a more emergent emergency. Then, I did as directed.
"Well, have you taken any measures to lure him out yourself?" The man on the other end of the line asked.
"No," I said, my mind flashing back to the last time I had tried to free a squirrel from a domicile.
Yes, there had been a time before.
Let's go there now.
Several years ago, my good friend and then neighbor, Kate, had a squirrel trapped in her house. She didn't call 911; instead, she called me. (And not with a telephone, just by screaming really loudly from her front lawn to mine.) You see how helpful I am in such a situation and why she would naturally want my assistance.
Not knowing then how absolutely psychotic a squirrel can get when under duress, I gamely entered Kate's house and went about trying to shoo the thing towards the front door.
Well, Kate had opened the wooden front door to her house but not the glass storm door in front of it. So, as we moved the beast towards the front of the house, the squirrel saw the beauty of the green world beyond his Dutch colonial prison and ran towards it with gusto. And then he banged his head squarely into the door.
He was now disoriented, bloody, and seriously pissed off.
"Open the front door!" Someone shouted. That someone was probably Kate.
"Squirrel!" I said.
By now, the squirrel was running around Kate's dining room like he had downed a Venti redeye.
After what felt like a decade but was probably only 30 seconds, he headed to the open air and was free.
"Well," I said, inching my way out of Kate's house and wiping the cold sweat from my upper lip. "That was fun. See ya."
"Ma'am?" The man on the line said, startling me from my revelry. "Do you want me to come over with my traps, or do you want to try and get this squirrel out on your own? A visit will cost you $250."
So I hung up on the guy, took a deep breath, and went back into the house through the garage. "I'm back, squirrel, so no funny business!" I called, the white-hot creepy feeling returning. I made my way to the front hall, opened both the wooden and glass doors, and waited outside. I called my husband Brett and whispered a play-by-play as the squirrel teased me with his should-I-go-now-or-not dance in the front hall.
"And... he's out!" I said. I entered our home and carefully investigated the crime scene.
Wood chunks were everywhere. Sawdust.
The squirrel must have entered my home at about 8:30 that morning, when I took my children to the bus. So he spent about four hours in my sun room, scratching and chewing the wood slats on 6 separate floor-to-ceiling sliding glass French doors.
There went my imaginary "savings" of $250.
I'm happy to say that we replaced those wooden slats, and have spent a year squirrel-free, but my kids still tease me every time we see a black squirrel near the house. "Look, mom: squirrel! Call 911!"
And that, dear readers, is my call of the wild.