This morning, I was deep in my slumber, but sort of coming back up to the surface and not quite waking up -- does this ever happen to you? You don't realize until you wake up that you were kind of bobbing up and down on the surface of wakefulness? -- and then Sweet Dub definitively broke my slumber by yanking open a dresser drawer and rummaging through it. I stretched and rolled over, which Sweet Dub took as the perfect opportunity to start yakking my head off. As it turns out, he was trying to wake me up. It was all part of his evil plan.
"Honey!" he said. "You're up. Oh my God."
"Hi," I said, or something like that.
"I got up this morning and I went out onto the front porch to get some wood to build a fire and I wasn't wearing any shoes and I stepped on a RAT HEAD. On our welcome mat! Oh my God!"
"Oh my God," I said, or something like that.
"I've been in the living room freaking out about it for twenty minutes and I can no longer be alone," he said.
I got up, put on my glasses, and realized it was 4:31 AM. On a Sunday.
We have this cat, you see. It doesn't belong to us, but our yard is definitely part of its turf. The cat is evil, in the way of Jean Jean and his evil cat. The cat has fought off another cat in our driveway at 3 AM, drinks out of our koi pond, sleeps in our backyard -- oh, and when I came by the house after we had gotten the keys but before we moved in? I found a half-eaten mouse on a bench in the backyard. Courtesy of the evil cat. The evil cat is deceptively beautiful. It is black, with a long full coat, a glorious fluffy tail and green eyes. It is not tame and does not want to be bothered with you. It just wants to hunt in our yard.
As it turns out, our property is the promised land for this cat. Because we live where? All together now: In The Wild.
I submit to you the following.
A few weeks after moving in, we began to hear disturbing scratching and scrabbling sounds above our heads at night. The sounds would wake us up. More than once I'd grab a broom and start pounding on the ceiling. But wait -- we no longer live in an apartment in the heart of the urban jungle. The sounds were not, as in our old place, tweaked-out meth addicts on the roof. This appeared to be some sort of animal.
We have yet to figure out what the animal is, but Sweet William went out and spent a fortune on sonic blasters, which he plugged in around the house and even up in the crawl space (I have no idea how he managed that). Guess what? No more noise.
A couple of weeks ago, I opened the back door to go throw out the recyclables. I stepped two feet out the door and heard the most bizarre noise imaginable. It was like a combination of squeaking and hooting coming from a bush a few yards away. I stopped and looked. The bush moved, but nothing came out. I stepped back inside.
"There's something out there," I said to Sweet Dub.
"Of course there's something out there," he said. "It's probably a squirrel."
I opened the door again. Another squeaking hooting warning call. I closed the door.
"No, it's a sound I've never heard before," I said.
After more discussion, Sweet Dub admitted that he had heard the sound recently as well, but didn't want to tell me for fear of freaking me out. "It doesn't sound like any animal I've ever heard," he said. "It sounds kind of like a primate. It's definitely a warning or alarm call."
"That is just our luck," I said. "Something has escaped from the zoo and it's in our yard."
Have I mentioned that we live a stone's throw away from Griffith Park, the one of largest urban parks in the U.S.*, and that it houses, among other things, the L.A. Zoo?
Have I mentioned that while hiking one day in Griffith Park a few years ago, we ran across what at first seemed to be a large squirrel, which we then realized was some sort of exotic animal? On the spot, I dubbed it a bandicoot, just because, well, who doesn't like the sound of that? I have since revised my opinion and now believe it was some sort of lemur.** It had a stripey tail, kind of like this. Even so, we still refer to it as the bandicoot, and when a mystery animal took up residence in our backyard and began squeak-hooting at us, that automatically became its nom de rigeur.
This morning, after peeking out the door at the rodent head on the mat, I sat back down on the couch in front of the fire. "I bet that cat ate the bandicoot," I said.
Here is where it gets fun for my readers. You - yes, you! - can help to settle a debate. I am going to share with you now a photo of the head the cat left on our doorstep (along with some innards). If you are squeamish, stop now and click away if you don't want to see it. Click onto something fun -- go buy some bodywash online or something.
Okay, for the rest of you: do you think this is a mouse or a rat? The head is approximately 2 inches long.
The other item in the lower part of the picture is one of its organs. I know, nice.
Okay, so mouse or rat? What do you think?
* According to the Griffith Park website, "With over 4,210 acres of both natural chapparal-covered terrain and landscaped parkland and picnic areas, Griffith Park is the largest municipal park with urban wilderness area in the United States." It's pretty fricking big, is all.
** Sweet Dub strongly disagrees.