Saturday, February 16, 2008

"Badgers? We Don't need no stinking badgers..."

You may recall several stories that infer that Nutmeg may well be a feline NutMegGuyver and that still holds true for the most part but last night has changed my perspective somewhat. I woke somewhere towards the end of the classic witching hour because of the rather noisome antics of my two cats, Chaos and Nutmeg. I wasn’t ready to rise so I rubbed my eyes shut and buried my head deeper into my pillow. I lay there listening to my hyper cats run the length of the house and back several times, not an uncommon occurrence and sometimes I get up and join them; but not this early, not this morning. As luck would have it, despite my reluctance to get up out of my warm bed, nature persuaded me otherwise, and I drug my tired butt over to the cold linoleum and sat myself down on an icy porcelain seat. The cats came in to watch. Now that in itself may seem a bit odd, but it has been a long time since they made me uncomfortable in the watching or the disregard they hold for my privacy, and I only noticed because just behind them the floor grate to the air ducts was dislodged on one corner. As if aware of my interest, Chaos got up and walked over to the floor grate and sniffed it, then sat and stared for a while. Nutmeg got up and followed suit sitting beside her hulking mate as I thought to myself Nutmeg has been up all night working hard again. You see this isn’t the first floor grate removal service I have unwittingly discovered, the first to go was under the end table in the front room, followed by one behind the lazy boy recliner, one more in the bedroom and the one in the kitchen would have gone by way of the others had fate not interceded by putting me in Nutmegs way at the most inopportune times for her. Good fortune for me because she apparently gave up on it.

Tonight, or in the wee hours of morning I suppose was to prove different. I sat on my porcelain throne and watched my two cats sit on their furry behinds and watch the floor vent. Both tales began twitching nervously like when ready to pounce on an unsuspecting toy, or each other when in mock-stalker mode. All of a sudden a paw appeared much to my surprise. You could not have flabbergasted me more with spring-loaded worms in a fake can with a peanuts label. I was too shocked to react. I sat and watched the paw come out and Nutmeg unable to resist, pounced on it and the mystery paw returned to the safety of my air conditioner duct after engaging a few retaliation moves. Nutmeg settled back to a sitting position until the paw came out again. This time nerve synapses were firing on all eight cylinders in my muddled brain and I actually formed a thought or two. The paw was most definitely an extra foot, all four each of Chaos and Nutmeg’s feet were accountable and yet a ninth paw remained. I counted again to be sure, yep nine paws. The odd paw appeared to be dark brown with very long black claws. I suppose I should write; very long intimidating black claws because they looked like ten penny nails from hell and because of the wrongness of seeing them in the inner sanctum of my bathroom. Nutmeg pounced and the mystery paw played for a bit and returned to its lair beneath the floor. It reminded me of Thing from Adams Family fame, a lone appendage creeping out for a moment then returning to the whence it came and that made me chuckle but then the paw actually came out again. I lurched from my vulnerable position and added the foot of my cane to the game, viciously beating the floor grate until the paw disappeared again then continued to pound on the grate until it settle back into place on the floor. Some may think I was squealing like a little girl at the time, but I have no recollection of that ever happening. I swung the bathroom door until it rested over the grate and I was satisfied nothing more would be crawling out. Oddly enough, after that unsettling experience, I realized I was still sleepy after all that excitement and snuggled deeply under my blanket and went back to sleep.

I wonder still what the creature was that I saw, if I saw anything at all. I’m old, I have a vivid imagination, especially when I am sleeping, and dementia runs in my family. I chose to believe the rather strong memory and images I have and so I googled paws and claws to try to find a match. The photo attached was as close as I could come to matching what I saw and that is quite close indeed. The claws were black, thick and long. Straight at the base and curving some at the Mr. pointy end. The fur on the paw and leg at first seem dark brown but I realize now that the floor vent was situated at the time behind the bathroom door and only one light was on shining from the wrong side to be of any benefit so the area in question was shaded if not shadowy which means the fur may have been a lighter brown, or it may have been as I first thought, it is hard to be sure. I do know the claws in the photo are similar to the ones in my memory banks. The paw itself was large compared to the big feet on Chaos, and maybe three times the size of Nutmegs, well at least twice the size, again I can’t be certain just as I cannot be certain it was actually a visit from the rare and presumably endangered and protected California duct badger, as who knows how many other creatures have the same or similar claw pattern or maybe it was my brother or one of the local buffoons with a furry paw on a stick making with a practical joke. I only know I am not prepared to take on any more roommates.

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