Tuesday, January 26, 2016

Sometimes Solitude Isn't Solitude

You may not have realized it (if Val is the sly fox she imagines herself), but I was home alone for two days. And nights. Hick and The Pony were off on a college recruiting visit in Oklahoma. More on that at another time. Let them get their own blogs if they think they're that important! We're here at Val's place, and it's all about VAL!

The days alone were fine. Sunday I puttered around at my leisure. Didn't pick up after anybody (including myself). Ruminated on a few writing ideas. Got myself mentally prepared to go back to work after spending only 1/2 day at school out of the last nine. Monday and today, I got up, packed only my own lunch, and drove silently to school to work. Then silently back home again. And by silently, I mean without talking except for cursing like a belligerent sailor at the driving ability of others.

Yes, the days were fine. It was the nights that were the problem. Most notably Sunday night. My first night alone. I did not hear the pacing or the bed-flopping or the disco dancing from up in Genius's room. Just some creaking. I told myself it was only my sweet, sweet Juno out on the side porch. Even though that section of porch is covered with part of the metal roof that's going on our new carport. A pile of metal so distasteful to Juno that she goes down the steps, along the brick sidewalk, turns left, walks along more brick sidewalk, and then up the steps onto the front porch when she wants to get to the front of the house.

No, the regular mystical phantom-walking did not happen. But something else did. I went to bed at midnight. That's early for me. I knew I'd need my rest, what with all this slacking during time off. I laid down on my left side and pulled the quilt/fleece over me, for once unhogged by Hick. The minute I laid my head upon my three pillows, I heard it. Not footsteps. But a cracking. Like the floor or doorjambs do when somebody walks by. Uh huh. It started in the laundry room, which is on the other side of the wall from my headboard.

I didn't like hearing that unsettling settling noise in the laundry room. It has a ceramic tile floor, for cryin' out loud! That stuff doesn't pop and crack! I had a little hand towel that I fold up and toss over the side of my head so Hick's breather germs don't settle in my ear overnight. I put that on. Still heard it. The cracking and popping. Then it was in the living room. Like somebody walking in there. Or standing behind the couch. Through the towel, even! With the furnace blowing.

THEN if felt a little poke. Between my shoulder blades. I pretended it was a muscle spasm. Or the blanket settling off my shoulder.

And then the cracking and popping moved to the master bathroom. But that's not all. Laws, NO! M-O-O-N. That spells the really spooky thing happened at 5:50 Monday morning!

On Mondays, I get a letter ready to send Genius. I tuck in the $6 that my mom always sent to him for Chinese food on Fridays. A couple of scratch-off tickets. And a one-page letter in longhand that I pull out of my butt when I sit in the La-Z-Boy foregoing my chair nap.

So there I was, leaned back, under my afghan, block-printing in all caps with a black ballpoint on unlined paper, updating Genius on how Hick and The Pony were in Oklahoma scouting out the university, when it happened.

CRthumpASH! Or crTHUMPash!

Something behind me flung itself to the floor. It was loud, even though we have carpet. I nearly jumped out of my skin, which would not have been at all appropriate for showing up at work to do my parking lot duty. Whew! My hand was shaking. My heart thumping. Adrenaline is a rush, you know.

I took some deep breaths. Tried to reason it out. Wrote it down for Genius to live vicariously through my terror. It had to be something in the closet. Hick had originally put the door on backwards. That's right. It opened IN. What good is a tiny closet when the door opens IN? You can't pile anything in there, because then the door won't close. So after a year or two, I made him change it. And he put in shelves, which he stocked one day while I was working with a bunch of stuff my mom gave him out of her ex-teaching closet. Stuff I didn't want, like dried-out glue, markers that didn't write, and pencils with rock-hard erasers. Anyhoo...the last thing put in that closet was at Thanksgiving, when I had The Pony stash a box of stuff that we'd cleaned out of T-Hoe. Granted, The Pony is not one to pay attention to detail. He could have balanced that box precariously on other items.

But why would a box sit there since Thanksgiving, and choose the moment Val was sitting there peacefully writing to Genius to jump off its perch? I looked in the closet when I got up, and it was indeed that car box, with a couple pairs of gloves, a few CDs, some old mail. A logical explanation.

Last night, my second night alone, there was not one untoward sound. It was like living in a ghost town. WAIT! I don't think that's the terminology I want to use...


  1. If you let your sweet sweet Juno in when alone, you might feel safer. Surely she would bark if there was anything out of the norm in the house.

    That falling shelf thing got us one night as well. Scared the bejesus outta me.

    1. Well, when Hick returned and found a strand of fur, he might have suspected me of dallying with a brunette Fabio. No. He doesn't know the meaning of dallying.

      Juno and poor dumb Ann used to bark their fool heads off all the live-long night. Now Juno is timid. Still grieving, perhaps, and keeps quiet in her house.

      SOMEBODY does not approve of our storage techniques.

  2. It sounds like you're changing from a sarcastic Erma Bombeck to Stephen King.

    Perhaps this means a whole new writing career, once you're retired.

    1. No. I am no Jack Torrance. This Backroads Hotel ain't gettin' snowed in anytime soon.

  3. I think. Sometimes. Your mama is trying to
    reach out to you. They say if you feel a tap on the head it's your loved on. A tap on the back could be almost anything. Perhaps you were not sleeping alone.

    1. Sometimes. But I didn't get that vibe this time. Just something LOOKING for something or somebody. Even looked in the closet, it seems! Must have found it. No activity the second night.

      What about a tap on the neck? I had one of those a couple years ago. Three taps, in succession.

      There YOU go with a Fabio rumor!

  4. As Shakespeare wrote: "...at night a bush is easily supposed a bear." When we're alone our imaginations love to play tricks on us.

    1. Wait! I had bears in my front yard? EEK!

      I though tricks were supposed to be fun. I need to fire my imagination get a new one that can pull a rabbit out of a hat, or find a quarter behind my ear.

  5. I would have had a dog in my bed to console me! Juno would have protected you!!

    1. She would have bitten off whatever poked me between the shoulders!