Scratch


Beep, beep, beep, beep, SLAM. Ten minutes later: beep beep beep SLAM.

(scratch)

Ahhhh, the Saturday snooze; it’s a ritual I never tire of. Each swipe at the snooze bar is a flip of the bird at the establishment. But as nine begat nine-thirty I knew I was pushing the envelope on sleeping late, (scratch) even with the ongoing snowstorm that was raging about outside my home. At a quarter to ten, I heard Brenda making her way up the stairs, and I figured that was it, it was time to get my lazy ass up out of bed. Deep down, I hoped she’d come looking for sex.

(scratch)

I opened one eye, and saw Brenda sporting a wry grin.

“Good morning, what’s up, hon?” (sex?)

” I think there’s something stuck in the chimney.”

(scratchy scratch scratch)

No sex. Crap.

Suddenly, that vague scratching sound I’d been hearing for the last three hours as I hit the snooze bar took on the distinct sound of a prehistoric beast’s razor claws trying to slice through our 1970’s-era chimney, on their way to to tearing my aorta out of my neck, to teach me that I belong in the city renting an apartment and not owning a home.

“So, what the fuck? (scratchity scratch scratch)”, I ask. Brenda informs me that she heard a ruckus in the chimney, and immediately closed the damper, since we’d made a fire last night. Shortly after that, a cacophony of claws was heard, scrabbling up and down the chimney, as some critter tried to fight gravity in a two-story metal tube that is our chimney.

I envision a squirrel. A soot-covered squirrel—with very sharp claws and rabid teeth—is currently freaking out in our chimney, while I’m still only half-awake and barely dressed. OK, OK, we need a plan. First, coffee.

(scratchy scratchity scratch scratch scurry scurry scratchity SCRATCH SCRATCH)

Mmmm good coffee. Boy, I wish I had a flamethrower.

Brenda already has a plan. She’s clutching a pillowcase; she says I should open the damper the the critter will fall into the pillowcase and we’ll toss it out back. I’m thinking that even if gravity was on our side and this beast just willingly fell into the sack, that it would still manage to wriggle and squeal enough to cause me to drop the sack, allowing said soot-covered beast to run rampant all over our new furniture and rug. We were dealing with a lot of shit.

I felt that something solid, like a five gallon pail was in order. We’d block the pail up to the chimney opening, open the damper, and the critter would eventually fall in. Slide the lid over, and that’s it. A plan. I was off to the basement, scrounging around for the pieces of my scheme.

A five-gallon paint bucket, lid, some Pergo floor scraps, newspapers, old magazines, and the most intimidating implements from the fireplace set were arrayed around the fireplace opening. Expecting the worst, I suggested we move the rug and furniture out of the way of the fireplace so that if the critter got loose in the house he’d inflict minimal damage on our new furnishings. We did. Brenda suggested we open the sliding glass door for the same reason, thinking maybe he’d just run on out into the back yard. So, we opened the door and even slid the screen door back about twelve inches , but after a few moments there was so much snow blowing in we decided that was a bad idea. We closed the door.

It was go time.

I opened the damper and began to shake the chimney. The critter was not at all interested in coming our way, as he scrabbled up and down our chimney for the next ten minutes. But armed with the fireplace poker on the second floor, I banged on the chimney until I heard the critter descend, followed by a gasp from Brenda. She looked at me with the same wide eyes she had when the mouse was in the house. Phase one was complete.

Scrambling down the stairs, I grabbed the lid and closed the damper. A brief rehearsal, a review of the plan. Unlike Bush, we had an exit strategy and a clear focus. We were ready. Brenda was to hold the bucket against the chimney opening, while I removed the blocks of wood and magazines that held it up there. Then, on the count of three, Brenda would lower the bucket and in one smooth move I’d slide the lid over the bucket, capturing the wretched, foul beast.

Wide-eyed, we looked at each other. One, two, three.

If lowering a five-gallon bucket while simultaneously sliding a lid over the top of it was an Olympic sport, Brenda & I would be sporting gold right about now. The thing is, the bucket really didn’t seem to be any heavier.

“What the fuck, where is it, I don’t think he’s in there!!” “I’m disappointed!!!!” (Think Kevin Kline in “A Fish Called Wanda”.) “Where the hell’d he go????””

Brenda, being way braver than I am, peeked up into the fireplace. It was then that we knew that our enemy was not a squirrel, a chipmunk, or a satanic autonomous claw. The enemy was a bird, and he was as pissed off as I was. Perched inches above the bucket & lid, he sat there with his beak half open, staring at me with a very avian/Travis Bickle “You talkin’ to me?” look about him. I hoped he wasn’t packing a .22 on a slide track under his wing. OK, plan B.

Brenda was now fully in charge; her plan was to cover the fireplace opening with a sheet and hope that somehow we could snare it in the sheet and bring it outside. I darted off, and grabbed a sheet from the closet. “Aw, man, a fitted sheet? you suck”. Comrades insulting comrades. Folks, this is what happens in combat. This was the real deal.

Sheet applied, we began to remove the elements of our previous failed attempt at containment. Fireplace grate, magazines, Pergo flooring scraps. (scratch) (flutter flutter) ...

It was only a matter of time; tweety decided enough was enough. He flew right through our defenses, and made a friggin’ beeline for that twelve inch space of open area where the screen door was open, but the sliding glass door was not any longer. Bang.

A whole new ballgame now.

Now we have a live bird flying around our house, intent on getting out. All he wants is to get the fuck out, and all we want is for him to get the fuck out too. It’s a strange dichotomy.

First he flies to the next window, which of course is closed. Bang. More flapping. Brenda & I are running around, armed with sheets. The bird heads for the front door, which of course at this point is closed. Bang. Brenda opens the door. I open the sliding glass door. Now we have two exit paths, yet this bird is perched on my goddamned computer monitor. He takes off, flies across the office and perches on the handle of an antique iron that Brenda has near her sewing machine.

For a moment I stand there in awe of the bird’s majesty. The next moment I want this foul winged beast the hell out of my house. And in that instant, he hops up on the handle, spreads his wings, and glides right on down the stairs and our our front door, like all of this was supposed to happen.

Home ownership; what a gas.

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Rob Guglielmetti

lighting simulationist, crossfitter, former drinker.


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