Certain Man’s Wife Hears a Noise
Now it came to pass that Certain Man’s Wife has been recovering from her second knee replacement with somewhat less aplomb than her first one. There haven’t been any real glitches in the process, in fact, range of motion is considerably better than the previous knee’s ability at the same stage of recovery. However, the pain has been raucous.
CMW has spent considerable amount of emotional energy trying to stay optimistic, trying to be brave, trying to OVERCOME. With the admission of the pain, CMW risks being the recipient of pity — which she hates with a passion. But one Saturday morning, there was a great deal of self-pity going on in her chair in the corner. It wasn’t just the pain, although that was a contributing factor. It was a whole conglomerate of things. Stuff people don’t really need to know, CMW figures, but still important enough to her to cry about.
It didn’t take too many minutes of writing all her feelings down to discover that she really did have things pretty good, and so she decided to get on with her day. It was a lovely day outside, and the next day was Easter. Certain Man and Middle Daughter were very busy with many things outside and so CMW stirred about and made a salad for the next day, and worked on plans for Easter family Dinner. Middle Daughter spent some time in the basement, getting a few things organized and airing the place out.
That evening, just as Middle Daughter was getting ready to go out the door, she said, ” Oh, Mom!!! I forgot! I opened one of the windows in the basement, and forgot to shut it. Maybe Dad should go down there and close it.”
“Uh, Beebs. Does the window have a screen on it?”
“No, it’s one that doesn’t have a screen, but it was the one I could get to.”
“Something could crawl in there, Deb, and really make a mess. A cat, or a squirrel or even a skunk!!!”
“Yeah, so probably Dad should shut it before it gets dark.”
“I should say so!!!” said the longsuffering CMW, thinking to herself that if she could just get down the steps, there would be no reason to involve Certain Man, whose knee has a torn ligament behind the knee cap and has been giving him a lot of trouble. (He has his own appointment with the good Dr. Choy, but not for a couple of months yet.) She tucked the information into the back of her mind with a mental note to tell him the minute he got in.
Of course, she forgot.
She stayed pretty busy in spite of the pain, and later that evening, after it was dark, she decided that she needed to do her daily physical therapy. So, while Certain Man was checking some scores on the computer, she set up her folding chair and began the slow stationary bike pedaling regimen that gets thing loosened up for further torture. She was (maybe) half way through the 12 minutes when she heard a muffled thump in the basement. Sorta’ like something falling off the shelf. It was an isolated noise, but it really got her attention. All of the sudden she remembered the open basement window, and realized that she hadn’t told Certain Man about it.
“Sweetheart–” she called hopefully from her therapy chair in the family room. She thought she heard an acknowledging from the depths of the study. “I just remembered something. Before Deborah left this afternoon, she said that she had opened the one window in the basement and didn’t have time to go back down there and close it. I wonder if you should check it. It was the one without a screen.
There was no noise from the study. If Certain Man heard, he didn’t answer. CMW pedaled on. Suddenly, she heard it again. It sounded like something alive. “Daniel– Sweetheart, did you hear me?” she asked. He came out of the study looking like a man who had been interrupted when he had been checking out his favorite team’s scores for the day.
“What? What did you say?”
“Deborah opened a window in the basement that doesn’t have a screen on it and she forgot to close it. And I keep hearing noises down there. I wonder if something got into the basement.”
“Its okay,” he said with that unflappable calm that men are capable of when they really don’t want to check things out. “It would be hard for anything to get in there.” And he disappeared into another room. Right about then, CMW heard the noise again. She made a quick check to be sure that the family cat wasn’t somehow in the basement, and saw her lounging under a table in the family room.
“Honey, I heard the noise again. It sounds like a cat is down there knocking stuff down, or jumping or something. I wish you would check it out.”
He wasn’t very enthusiastic, but he did betake himself to the basement and checked everything out. He was back shortly to report. “There is nothing there. I shut the window, but there is nothing down there, running around.”
CMW left her therapy then for a quick check from the windows around the perimeter of the sun room and CM joined her to make sure there wasn’t some wild animal of some sort throwing itself against the outside of the house. Certain Man didn’t actually hear anything, but he must have decided that if CMW was so sure she had heard something, he wasn’t going to get any rest until he at least gave some attention to the story.
When neither of them could find anything, he went back to the computer, and CMW returned to her physical therapy. Scarcely was she back on her chair until she heard it again. It seemed louder, but just when she was sure that she would have to call CM, it stopped. A short time later, she heard it again. It sounded like it was coming from the air conditioning vent that was on the floor about six feet away from her chair. So she pulled her chair over there, and waited. Yes, sir, it happened again. Definitely in the air vent. It sounded like an animal of some sort was down in the air vent, struggling to get out. It was brief, but very definite. CMW pulled the grate off and peered into the darkness of the vent. And waited. Sure enough, it happened again. Struggle, struggle, struggle. Then silence.
Certain Man’s Wife debated her options. She continued to do her physical therapy while listening to the poor trapped animal. It seemed like the struggle was less with each episode, and the episodes kept getting further and further apart. She finally went into the study to talk to her poor beleaguered spouse.
“Sweetheart, I keep hearing this noise. I know you are tired of hearing about it, but it seems like it is in the air conditioning vent. It sounds like an animal is caught in there and is trying to get out. And it sounds like it is getting weaker and weaker. Would you come out here and sit in a chair beside the air vent and just listen?”
He is a good man, and he knew that his wife was obviously upset about whatever it was that was dying in the air vent, so he came out and parked his folding chair by the air vent and waited.
Sure enough, there was a sudden scratching noise that came from the vent. Certain Man’s indifference disappeared in a snap. “What in the world?!?!?” he asked of no one in particular.
“Did you hear it?” asked his excited frau, “Did you hear it?”
“Yes, I heard it,” he said, “But I can’t figure it out. I don’t see how anything would have gotten into the air conditioning vent. There shouldn’t be any way for that to happen.”
His wife had no trouble at all imagining how something had gotten into the duct work. First of all, there is so many lengths of ductwork that run under the house, through the attic, through the basement and wall. She could see any of a number of animals finding a place to squeeze in. “Well Daniel, maybe it is a bird that came down the chimney or maybe a squirrel found a place where it was apart, or maybe a rat chewed a hole through somehow.”
He looked at her askance. “I’ve not seen any rats around here for a long, long time. Have you?”
“Well, no, but it could have come in from somewhere –” She could tell that he wasn’t very enthusiastic about checking this out, but she also knew that he wouldn’t rest until he knew what was going on. He looked thoughtful, and got some gloves and headed for the door.
“What are you going to do?” asked his ever helpful wife.
“Well,” he said with a great glint of determination in his eye, “the one thing that is convenient is that I can get to that air vent. The duct work runs right across the basement ceiling, so I can certainly get to it. I’m going to go down there and see what I can find.”
“Oh, honey, it could have rabies. Be careful!!!”
“I will. I just can’t figure out what could have gotten in there . . .” He disappeared down the steps to the basement and CMW stayed in the family room, still working at her physical therapy. Suddenly, there was a great scrambling noise at the air conditioning vent. So much so, that the family cat went flying over to investigate with her tail as big as a toilet bowl brush. She sniffed and stood watchful guard over the hole in the floor. This did not do much for CMW’s peace of mind. What could be in there that interested the cat so much? She hobbled over and looked down again to see if some beady eyes were peering up at her. She put her hand down there and waggled it around. Nothing. So she hobbled back to her chair.
About five minutes later, she was aware that Certain Man was back upstairs. And he was clearly amused. “What was it?” she asked. (She didn’t want it to be anything that would bite him, but she HATES it when he laughs at her.)
“Oh,” he said teasingly, “It was really scary!!!”
“Daniel, what was it???”
“Well,” he said kindly, “I got down there and checked and couldn’t find anything in the duct work, and I was just ready to give up when I heard it again, and I looked up there and here the pipe from the sump pump is against the duct and every time it turns on and off, the pipe shudders, and it jiggles the duct and that is what you heard. Sometimes the pipe has a stronger shudder than at others so it sounds louder. Also, the episodes get further and further apart as the basement gets more and more pumped out. And there you have it. Mystery solved!!!”
“Oh,” said Certain Man’s Wife in a very, very small voice. “I see.” And she went back to finish her physical therapy without calling Certain Man even one more time about a single thing.
And that is the news from Shady Acres, where CMW hears that animal in the air conditioning duct every time she does therapy and it doesn’t worry her at all. Not even a little tiny bit.