At 3 a.m., Monday morning, I was awakened by a whimper from our dog Sadie. It was the usual whimper she gives off when she has to “go potty” and isn’t going to be able to go back to sleep until she does. I waited and tried to snooze, hoping I was wrong.
Moments later, my peace was disturbed again, this time by a cold dog nose thrust into my face from the side of the bed, followed by another plaintive whimper.
“Whadayuwant?” I said.
I got up, put on my robe and slippers and went out to water the dog. Our cat, Avie, heard us and got up to see what we were doing—cause damn if the dog gets to go outside and she doesn’t. Turned out she was hungry, so I fed her and gave Sadie a dog cookie to keep her quiet and then tried to get everyone back to bed before this hour-of-the-wolf trek turned into a fit of insomnia for me.
About half an hour later I was lying in bed still pretty much awake, but I could feel myself drifting toward slumber. Then I heard something that caused my eyes to pop open and my ears to perk up. Elsewhere in the house, I heard the distinctive sound of plastic sheeting being disturbed. In fact, it sounded exactly like two footsteps being taken across plastic sheeting. Now, the plastic sheeting part was explainable because we still had a couple of sheets of plastic drop-cloth on the floor of the living room, left over from our weekend painting project. The real trouble with hearing two footsteps on plastic sheeting is that my wife was asleep in bed beside me, the cat was asleep on my chest and the dog was snoring away on her giant pillow by the bed. The only other pet in the house was a fish. This meant that I’d either dreamed I’d heard footsteps on the plastic or something or someone else had made them.
I slid out of the covers and retrieved my brainin’ stick from beside the bed. At no point did it strike me as wise to wake my wife, even though I was potentially about to do battle with another human being. I went to the bedroom door and debated the merits of turning on the hall light. On the one hand, it might expose a prowler prowling in the hall; on the other, it would also blind me. Instead, I crept into the hall, through the dark and made it to the foyer. There, I reached around the corner into the living room, where the sheeting was located. Keeping the wall between me and the hanging lamp, I flipped on the light switch. There was no movement to be heard so I peeked around the corner. No one was there.
Great, so if there was a prowler, they A) were elsewhere in the house, and B) now knew I was looking for them and exactly where I was. The fortunate part of this, though, was that because of the painting project we had enough furniture scattered in obvious walkways that if they tried to escape or run to attack me they would be unable to keep from running into it, alerting me to their location. I heard nothing.
I moved through the living room and into the kitchen. No one was there.
I checked the garage door. Still locked.
I circled back into the den where I checked the back door, also locked, and returned to the foyer, where prowlers still weren’t visibly prowling and where the front door was similarly locked. Then, after searching all the other obvious places for a couple of minutes, I decided to file the whole thing away as misheard leaf noise from a deer outside, otherwise I’d never be able to return to sleep.
Around 7, I woke to find the wife up and about, readying for work.
“I heard an odd noise at 3:30,” I said. I then told her about the plastic footsteps.
“Huh,” she said in a tone that suggested I’d provided a clue to a mystery she was working on. “Well, there is an odd poo in the hallway. Maybe we have a mouse.”
A mouse, I thought. Yeah, that made sense. It was getting close to winter, the time for all good mice to try and get indoors. Only when I finally got a look at the odd poo in question, I saw that it was far too large a poo to have come from the ass of an average mouse. No, this was a poo of a different creature and the wife and I both began to audibly hope we didn’t have a rat on our hands. The wife didn’t think there was any way for a rat to get into the house, but I pointed out it would have been easy enough for it to get into the garage on one of the many days we’d left the door open, and from there it was only a matter of sneaking in the interior door when we weren’t looking. She didn’t like this theory. We didn’t need any more troublesome furry creatures in our lives. We already had two.
“All right, kitty,” I told Avie, who was already engaged in her daily ritual of knocking important things off the table for the dog to chew up. “Time to step up to the plate.”
A little after breakfast, the cat and dog tired of their games and thankfully both went to sleep. So I crept out of the den and toward the office to check email.
As I entered our freshly-painted hallway, I spied, seated in the middle of the hallway, the creator of the aforementioned poo and knew that it had also definitely been the source of the noise on the plastic sheeting.
It was not a rat.
It was not a mouse.
It was, instead, a frog.
When I saw it, I laughed out loud, then caught myself, lest I wake the animals and cause a frog-stomping stampede. I scooped him into a coffee cup and then deposited him in the flower bed out back, near a gap where he could hide under the deck and bed down for the winter.
Yep, a frog hopping through the living room could conceivably have made two leaps across the plastic at about the rate footsteps would take. Still not sure how a frog got into the house.
Maybe the rats let him in.