Posted 08-05-2004 at 14:20:20
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It was late Tuesday night when Jenny woke me up from a dead sleep.
"Mom..." she hissed, "there's someone outside the bathroom window whistling at me!"
"What!?" I blinked in the darkness, trying to see her face, wondering if I was just having a vivid dream.
"I was in the tub when I heard it. I heard it twice. Will you please come sit in the bathroom with me?"
Well, dang right I went and sat with her. I heard nothing.
"Jenny, I think you let your imagination run away with you. I don't hear a thing."
"Mom...I know what I heard."
"What kind of whistling was it?"
"You know, like when a man whistles at a woman when she walks past a construction site."
"You mean a 'wolf' whistle." I offered.
"Yeah." She shuddered, and I instantly regretted my use of the word 'wolf'.
I reassured her and we went to bed. I didn't want to let her know that I was worried. Three females alone = easy target in some people's eyes, and the thought did cross my mind that we might have a peeping Tom. It crossed my mind so many times in fact, that I couldn't get back to sleep, so I went where I always go when I can't sleep; to the computer.
I was reading my e mail when I heard the front door rattle against the frame, and then a spilt second later, the screen door slam and the thumping sound of someone running across the front porch.
There was no doubt in my mind what I'D heard, but for some reason I wasn't alarmed. I was mad. Someone was playing games. Even if they weren't playing games but were merely trying to scare us, I had a loaded .410 shotgun in the bedroom and felt pretty sure that I woud win 'the game' if it got too serious. I have no qualms about shooting someone trying to break into my house. I wouldn't want to, but that doesn't mean I wouldn't do it. I cursed the dogs, who were probably down at Fred's and not on the front porch where they needed to be. They tend to go back and forth between the houses. Fred and Jake will feed them vension or wild hog scraps, and leftovers from the table, where I feed them dog food, so given a choice, they'll hang around down there just in case Jake gets a hog.
Things got pretty quiet after that so I went back to bed. The next morning Jenny informed me that she had heard someone on the BACK porch.
"I can't believe you didn't hear it. It sounded like they were rearranging all the stuff that is stacked back there." She said.
"What I can't believe, is that you waited this long to tell me." I replied.
Needless to say the majority of my thought processes that day at work were devoted to our intruder. I tried to lose myself in what I was supposed to be doing, but my mind was back home...wondering. I had visions of a strange man creeping around outside the house, earnestly seeking a vantage point where he could see in, testing locks on windows and doors, making insidious mental notes as to our routine. I almost knew what he looked like; his build, his height; I could see his hands testing the doorknobs, fingering the phone line...our only contact with the outside world and potential help. Well, except for my cell phone. God bless cell phones...may they always have strong signals.
That afternoon I happened to be talking to the landlord on the phone about our electrical issue. Off-handedly, I mentioned our unwanted night time guest; described what we'd heard, and insisted that I wasn't scared, but did he have any idea who it might be?
"After all," I said, "the house sits so far back from the road, a person would almost have to know where it was beforehand."
It's not the kind of place that you would just stumble over. It's tucked back in between a grove and a stand of huge oak trees.
"Wait a minute, hold on...what now?" He asked, immediately alert and attentive, and I knew instantly that he was the kind of man that wouldn't take kindly to someone sneaking around on his property.
I repeated what I'd said and he sat quietly for a moment.
"Listen, I know everybody within a mile of that place and I can tell you right now with certainty that it wouldn't be any of them..."
"Well, I don't know what to tell you." I interrrupted. "I know what we heard."
"No," he said chuckling, "you know what you THINK you heard. I know what's going on."
"I can almost guarantee you that you are hearing a raccoon. The sound they make sounds kind of like a whistle, right?'
"The woman that lived in the house before you, reported to me that a raccooon had discovered how to open the screen doors and would come up on the porches at night and eat the cat food that she left out for her cat. That would explain the whistle and the screen doors slamming."
I felt my cheeks go hot with embarrassment. Here I was, s'posed to be a country girl and I was being scared to death by a stupid raccoon. It all made sense. A large raccoon would make a hell of a racket running across the front porch in the middle of the night, especially if a person was already a little on edge and listening for the first little sound. He'd been coming up on the porches at night looking for dog food this time, and around his little food foraging expiditions we had created an evil man of monstrous proportions.
"I thought you were used to living in the country." He accused, snickering.
"Billy, we never had raccons, because we always had four of five dogs on the porch at night."
"Oh. I see. I guess it didn't occur to you that it would be kind of dumb for a peeping Tom to announce his presence by whistling." Just a little bit of sarcasm there.
I got on the internet the next morning and actually found a recording of a raccoon and made Jenny listen to it.
"Could this be what you heard?" I asked her, playing it over and over.
When she blushed red as a fire engine I knew that we had identified our peeping Tom for once and for all, and that for the moment we could relax as far as bad men go. Now I just have to figure out how to come up with something to feed the dogs that will top venison and pork scraps and we'll have it made.