Gwen Petersen: In a Sow’s Ear 9-26-11
Definition for poltergeist: ghost, mischievous spirit, manifestation, apparition, specter, phantom, presence – held to be responsible for unexplained noises such as rappings.
While I can’t claim to believe in ghosts, goblins, ghouls or gremlins, this morning I almost changed my mind. The trouble started when the cats wanted to go outside. One kitty goes by the name of Switchback; that appellation derived from her habit of carrying her tail bent back parallel to her spine – like underlining a word. The other whiskered mouser has the elegant moniker of Dulcimer – due to her musical “meow.” I am the indentured servant to this pair. Cats, unlike dogs, don’t have masters, they have staff.
So, in the almost-dawn time, I rose from my trundle bed to respond to the demands of Switchback and Dulcimer who claimed they simply had to go outdoors. Now! Not later! As I shuffled toward the exit – which meant I passed through the utility room where the washer and dryer live – I heard a thump. A buzzing growl fell upon my eardrums. Think how that buzzer sounds on the radio when the program is interrupted to bring you an announcement about a tornado or bad weather. It’s an atonal grinding noise that causes your back hairs to stand up and salute.
To say I was startled is like saying: “Kiss a frog, you’ll like it.” I halted in mid shuffle; I peered through the gloom (remember it was still not full daylight). I saw nothing. The rasping buzz continued. Was it an electrical problem? Had the dryer or the washer come to life? Should I find the fuse box and shut off all electricity in case something was about to blow up or catch fire?
Hearing the growling noise, Switchback, the original “scaredy cat,” went into an hysterical fit. She clawed at the back door, so I opened it. She shot forth. Right behind her blasted Dulcimer. I shut the door and that’s when I saw the thing. Face down on the linoleum floor lay a fat pale varmint about a foot and a half long. Beside it sat a roundish mound the size of a volleyball. The varmint was buzzing worse than a den of rattlesnakes. Had the thing just given birth? Was that mound an egg sack about to burst and spew forth baby varmints?
“Eeek,” I said, among other choice words. I jumped back and smacked the light switch to on position. I grabbed a broom and prepared to fight to the death (the varmint’s, not mine). Then I stared. I put down the broom. There lay my battery operated dust-buster. It had leaped from its spot on the wall and dived to the floor. The mound beside it turned out to be a sackful of plastic bags which usually hang off the buster’s handle. The horrible buzzing went on, changing from low growl to higher pitched snarl.
Here’s where I started believing in poltergeists. Now, the cats often sit in the window right above the spot where the dust-buster hangs. As kitties will do, they sometimes chase one another. In their feline zest, they could have knocked the critter to earth. Ditto the plastic sacks.
However, to turn on the duster you have to thumb-press a sliding button forward. Cats do not have opposable thumbs. I can accept that rambunctious cat critters could have caused the dust-buster to take a dive. But to paw-press and slide a button forward? I don’t think so.
Had to be a poltergeist.
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