The Something in the Wall

01.04.09 | Comment?

On New Years Eve, I was out with the boys, foraging for food at the Giant Eagle and running errands when I got a call from my wife. "There is something in the house!" she told me. Now, usually if anything dared enter our house uninvited, she would quickly kick its crawly little butt back outdoors. This time was different because (a) she was still getting over pneumonia so her butt-kicking skills were not at 100% and (b) the something was apparently bigger than an insect or spider. It was also inside the wall or ceiling in the family room behind/above the TV.

When I got home, all was silent. I took a flashlight and chair and cautiously stuck my head up into the drop ceiling to see what I could see. Nothing. No scratch marks, no droppings, and certainly no critter. Huh.

A little while later, I finally heard it. She was dead right. Whatever it was, it was big. Not bear-big, but not a mouse. It sounded like it was in the wall behind the TV. There is a chimney back there, so I assumed that whatever it was had gotten in that way. It was not moving about much but sounded like it was struggling to get out of wherever it was stuck. Great. Now I had something stuck in my wall, probably going to die and stink there. Something to sleep on and consider how to remove it.

The following day, the boys and I were ringing in the new year as the pioneers did by playing Wii Sports. Our friend in the wall started struggling again. Disconcerting, but I was winning the game, so the critter could wait. A couple of minutes later, we suddenly heard scampering in the ceiling. The something was loose!

The kids and my sick wife (and (against his will) my enthusiastic sidekick Boris the cat) were evacuated to the upstairs and I was left to deal with the something. Chair and flashlight time again. I could hear it, so I opened a tile near it and it ran off. I followed it and repeated. After a few tiles were gone, I finally saw a little squirrel head peek out of the ceiling. My family room had a lolsquirrel! How cute! Until he jumped out the ceiling.

Squirrels are cute. They have little hands and big fluffy tails. They might steal my wife's tulip bulbs, but I've never really had a problem with them myself. When the squirrel made landfall in the family room, I realized that all the cuteness depends on context. Squirrels are cute when they are outside. Inside, you become incredibly aware of how much faster and more agile they are than you and how much damage, both structural and infection-wise, their little hands and giant teeth could do to you.

The next 45 minutes or so would not be my finest. My wife tossed me a swiffer and my shoes and the battle was on. I rarely managed to land a blow although I did make him run from corner to corner a lot. Our family room is big, but contains lots of toys, tables and desks with little crawl spaces behind them, recliners with nice hiding spaces underneath, etc. The terrain was to his advantage.

Several times he ran for the window before it occurred to me to open it. By then, he had given up on that exit. A couple of times he ran up the stairs to the kitchen door. When this happens, do not follow the squirrel. If a squirrel is daunting on the ground, a squirrel is terrifying when pissed off and coming down the banister at you at face level. I can neither confirm nor deny any girlish yelling I may have done in that circumstance.

After 20 minutes or so, his running was noticeably slower. He no longer bounced over the couch or up onto the window sills. I was wearing him down.

A couple of times he vanished. Silence. I knew he was in the room, but honestly couldn't find him. My own little Apocalypse Now moment with charlie squatting under the couch.

All the while, I was trying to arrange boxes and towels, etc. to cut off his access to hidey holes and to try to trap him. I even got him to run into a cat carrier at one point, but he bolted out again before I got it closed. In the end, It was a box blanket combo that trapped him. I called up to my wife to open the back door and ran for it with my blanketed bundle struggling, hissing, and even growling as I went. In the back yard, being more cautious than valorous, I more or less shook the beast out of the blanket, hoping all the while that when freed he would run away from me and not toward. This turned out to be more or less the case.

Inside, we were down one swiffer that I broke batting at him when he ran at my feet (again, no girlish screams, I assure you) and one ottoman that the little creep had pooed on in mid battle. I am not sure if that was in fear or defiance. A bunch of disinfecting wipes and Lysol later the boys returned to the basement, the Wii was awakened, and all was once again as it should be.

2009 is off to a hell of a start.

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