Monday, January 28, 2008

Up in the Night

C.L. Beck
© 2008

A few nights ago, after the usual tossing, turning, and fluffing of pillows, I nodded off into that dream where you’re rich, intelligent and able to fly. I’d just gathered riches when a loud, “Wham! Thump, thump!” echoed through the house.

My husband, Russ, and I bolted upright. “What was that?” I whispered.

“I don’t know,” he whispered back.

I’m not sure why we whispered. Whatever was downstairs made enough racket to cover the roar of a jet engine.

We sat there, our ears pricked like barn cats listening for mice. Finally I said, “Why don’t you go see what made that noise?”

“Why don’t you?” Russ replied.

“Because that’s your job. There’s an unwritten law dating back to the Garden of Eden. Husbands must warm their wives’ cold feet and they are responsible for checking out things that go bump in the night.”

Russ reluctantly slid out of bed, mumbling his opinion of unwritten laws, and headed toward the bedroom door. “Wait. Aren’t you going to take a weapon?” I asked.

“What would you suggest?” he said, looking around a room filled with books and knickknacks.

Remembering the recent news of the shooting death of a professional football player who kept a machete for self-defense, I didn’t bother to drag out the sword from under the bed. “How about that book on body language,” I said, pointing at it.

“Oh, that’ll be a big help.”

“At least you’ll know—by his subtle signals—when he plans to whap you over the head,” I replied.

Opening the bedroom door, Russ started downstairs. I intended to follow, in case he needed help, but the moonlight reflecting on the snow distracted me.

Russ called from the T.V. room, “Come and look at this.”

I figured he’d conked a burglar over the head and wanted praise, so it was safe to go down. As I walked into the room, Russ cracked open the curtains. On the outside windowsill sat a stunned, befuddled dove.

“She must have flown into the window by accident. That’s what made all the noise,” Russ said.

We stood there, hesitant, wondering what we should do to help the poor bird. “You could catch her and bring her in to warm up,” I said.

Russ pulled on a sweatshirt and stepped out into the frigid night. The person driving by craned his neck at the sight of a hooded figure wearing pajama bottoms and slippers with no socks, carrying a shoebox and creeping along the sidewalk. I fully expected the guy to steer into a snow bank. I’m certain it was enough to scare the bird into consciousness, because she took off like a shot.

With the dilemma solved, we traipsed back to bed. Just as the cold in my feet transferred over to Russ’s, the noise happened again.

“It’s that bird,” Russ explained in a sleep-filled voice.

I relaxed in the blanket’s fluffy warmth and while slipping into dreamland mumbled, “But birds don’t fly at night.”

Wham! Thump, thump.

We trudged back downstairs and Russ looked out the window—ice had formed on the sill. “I don’t see anything,” he said, “It must be so cold that the birds are falling out of the trees. I’m going out to see if they’re lying on the sidewalk. Maybe I can rescue them.”

It was after midnight. The same man who didn’t want to go downstairs in the cold and dark to check for burglars now wanted to step out into five below temperatures in his pajamas—again—and rescue birds?

Wanting to do my part, I stayed inside where it was warm and watched from the window. Russ stepped to the edge of the sidewalk, looking perplexed—no birds. His eyes scanned the pine tree, searching for frozen doves falling from the sky when ….

A large, dark shape dived from the boughs, buzzed Russ, and hooted as it flew over to an elm. Giving Russ a cranky look, it sat there, waiting for its chance to return to the pine.

Mystery solved, Russ stepped back inside and said, “The doves weren’t falling out of the trees in a frozen stupor. A predator was chasing them.”

“Well, owl be,” I said.

1 comment:

G. Parker said...

This was great as usual! Good job!