de Vos: A tail of insomnia
The Friday Report
“Did you hear that?” my wife said, shaking my shoulder.
“Huh?” I snorted, startled, “What the . . .? It’s three o’clock in the morning.”
“Porcupines are fighting in the backyard again,” she said.
I already knew that because their squealing was a lot like the mosh pit at a Justin Bieber concert. But I knew what to do. I curled into a ball and feigned a coma.
“Wake UP!” she said, shaking more vigorously. Precious sleep flew out the window, taking the perchance to dream part with it.
I opened one eye, “What?” I said again, “I’m not going out there. It’s way too dangerous. Porcupines are decidedly evil. They shoot poisonous quills and feed flabby suburbanite flesh to their young. Maybe it’ll wander off.”
“They’ve been out there for hours. I’ve got a headache and can’t sleep with all the racket. Go chase it away. Get up. Do something!” Her eyes were like burning coals in the dark.
“Do something,” is a disturbing thing to say to any man. Women expect their men to boldly face overwhelming odds, protect them from all adversity, bring home the bacon and clean the kitchen when they’re done. And after all that, after all we do for them, women haven’t the slightest qualm about throwing their man under the first rabid porcupine that disturbs her slumber. Go figure.
Expecting me to go outside at 3 a.m. and face off with a frothing, quill-shooting monster is a stretch. I ignore her gleaming glare and ask, “What if the porcupine turns on me? What if his gang name is Stab Whitey and he doesn’t want to be chased away?” My logical questions fell on deaf ears because she had already fallen back asleep, enthusiastically snoring in competition and rhythm with the fearful noises outside.
Totally awake by now as if highly caffeinated, I stood up but when I started downstairs, the porcupine shut up. I didn’t know if he, she, or they wandered off, killed each other, or expired of unrequited love. I waited several moments, nope, no more howling. I ran back upstairs and pitched face forward once more into my pillow. Silence, sweet silence, completely undisturbed except for . . .
I reached over and shook my wife by the shoulder, “Did you hear that?” I said.
She snorted back awake, “Of course I heard it! Go chase it away!”
“No, no,” I said, “The porcupine died. Don’t you hear water running?” Water running at night in Fraser is not a good thing. I gulped and stood up, resigned to go do something.
What I did was step squarely on Freeta Goodhome’s tail. The basset had slumbered through everything so far, but with this unprovoked assault she let out a window-rattling bellow and ran headlong down the stairs wailing like a British ambulance. This panicked the parrots who started screeching in terror. Our other mutt, Surely, started barking for no earthly reason than she’s good at it.
By now, everybody in the house was hollering at the tops of their lungs, lights were flipping on all over the neighborhood as I’m running around the house trying to find the running water that turned out to be the downstairs bath fan, not water at all. About 4 a.m. everything seemed pointless and everybody went back to sleep.
Wait! Did you hear that?
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