Living in Placitas has already been quite the educational experience from learning about swamp coolers to gratefully welcoming the less humid days to adjusting recipes to account for the higher elevation (5955 feet according to Wikipedia). This week continued to provide me with opportunities to learn and practice more new skills.
Adapt and overcome! This was the first saying I learned in the Imperial Army. I have tried to keep its tenants long after I left the service. However, my ability to adapt and overcome was tested on Sunday night. My good friend had flown in Sunday morning and, after a day of checking out the local scenery and an intense session of catching up on news and gossip, we called it a night. She settled in on the futon while I snuggled down in my bed for what I hoped would be a restful night. Alas, it was not to be. I was awakened by a clamor and clanging. Was I sleeping in some medieval torture chamber where the chains were rattling? Was Julia Childs cooking in my kitchen? Ahhh, no, I realized, as my brain stirred sluggishly. It was the blinds banging in the breeze, as they are wont to do since I must leave a window open or at least cracked for the evaporative cooler. “Argh,” I thought. I hoped it had not disturbed my friend. Fortunately, she tends to sleep more securely than myself, who awakens at the sound of mere crickets thinking or the wafting of a strange scent.
Now that my sleep had been disturbed, I made my way sans glasses blearily down the dim hallway to the bathroom careful to not make any noise. As I finished my business a small, darkish blob skittered across my feet. Jumping Jehoshaphat!! I leapt up in full combat mode, peering around and unable to see anything clearly. Curses! Why hadn’t I put my glasses on? Still, nothing moved as I squinted mightily looking for any signs of an intruder.
Back in my bedroom, I lay breathing deeply and trying to convince my heart to stop galloping like a two-year old hopped up on Mountain Dew. Just as I had started to doze, I heard the blinds clanging again. Good grief, Charlie Brown! I was certain I had closed the windows out front so that the breezes wouldn’t disturb my friend. Stealthily, I slipped out of bed and into the living room around the futon to check the windows. Ah-ha! They were indeed closed. I concluded that in my state of pre-sleep my mind had misinterpreted where the sound was coming from. Relieved that at least my memory had not deceived me, I climbed back into bed, desperately hoping for some sleep. I had barely settled in when I heard a muffled crashing down the hall. Dagnabit! I jumped out of bed (this time with glasses on), grabbed my trusty flashlight, and aimed it towards the bathroom.
OMG! There, staring back at me with glowing red eyes was a minor demon disguised as the largest mouse I had ever seen! And I am not making this up (well, there may be a bit of blarney involved). I could almost swear that I saw horns on that thing. It stared boldly at me while I stood frozen in shock. Unsure of what to do I went into the living room, shook my dear friend lightly, and said, “There is a mouse in the house.” As I am wont to slip into the Seussian tongue when under duress.
Of the many responses I anticipated, my friend’s was not one of them. “Oh, thank God! I thought there were spirits in the house. I was going to ask you in the morning if you had used smudge sticks to cleanse it,” she said with obvious relief.
On that note, I donned my sneakers as my combat boots have not yet found their way here and I do not like to face adversaries in my bare feet. Grabbing my shillelagh, we marched down to the bathroom. Although now empty of the demon mouse, it was in a state of disarray with shampoos and conditioners knocked askew, toothbrushes dumped into the sink, and the hand towel dumped unceremoniously on the floor. We proceed to march around the house, turning on lights, and inspecting any nooks and crannies that looked as if they could hide a demon mouse all to no avail. Finally, we retreated to the bedroom to regroup.
Within minutes the cacophony returned! We darted out into the living room to the sound of blinds crashing like the gnashing teeth of a hundred caffeine-deprived faculty in a daylong meeting. The flashlight swept the room till it landed on the minor demon from hell…scaling the blinds of the front window! As the light hit it, it did a backflip and, I swear to you, three perfectly executed summersaults in midair before landing on the bench. I am certain that I saw it flip me the bird before it bolted like a vampire chased by sunlight and shot behind the refrigerator. Apparently, there was a portal from Hades hidden beneath the cupboards.
Now what? My friend, thinking on her feet, recommended that we close all of the doors to the other rooms. This would limit the combat area and maintain a fortress of retreats for us. I readily agreed to this wise idea and we began closing the doors. When I pulled the bathroom door closed, it resisted and I tugged harder till it shut with the sound of certain doom. I felt a deep foreboding in the pit of my stomach. Trying the knob, I discovered that the door was now locked from the inside! What fresh hell was this? Two women in the middle of the night locked in mortal combat with a mouse and NO BATHROOM. Egad!!
Once again we retreated to the bedroom to regroup and assess the situation. We determined that the demon mouse was the first matter to be dealt with and then the locked bathroom door. I deduced from the mouse’s blind-scaling antics that it sought to exit from the house. We resolved to turn off all the lights, but the night light and open the front door, which was close to the portal to Hades.
We crouched in the darkness clad in pajamas and sneakers, I with my shillelagh, and hair spiked up like ancient Celtic warriors. Shortly the demon appeared. Its whiskers twitched as it scented the night air and the tang of two desperate and determined women. It moved only a few millimeters, stopped, looked around, and twitched its whiskers some more. This scenario was repeated several times with the mouse only halfway to the door. I knew that this was a deliberate form of torture as the demon tested our righteous resolve. My muscles ached and one eye quivered as I watched the demon mouse inch towards the door. Still, we persevered and when it slipped around the edge of the door, my friend, grabbing my shillelagh, ran over planted it on the floor and slamming the door roared, “You shall not pass!”
Now there remained only the matter of the locked bathroom door. We did what any self-respecting person would do. We consulted the Oracle of Google. The questions came fast and furious. What kind of lock is this? How do you pick it? Why did a demon mouse invade the house? While the Google provided a variety of ideas on how to pick the lock, the door resolutely remained locked. Meanwhile, pressure was mounting in our bladders. When I sought to take apart the door knob to another door in an attempt to better understand the locking mechanism, I made a chilling discovery. The knob and lock had been installed incorrectly and the emergency hole was not properly aligned. What if this was also the case for the bathroom door? Oh dear! Maybe this was why none of the solutions Google recommended worked. By now desperate, I looked up the number of an emergency 24/7 locksmith. I felt like Princess Leia. “Help me, Obi-Wan Kanobi. You’re my only hope.” Yes, yes, they could help, but it would be at least 30 minutes.
However, unwilling to concede defeat, I continued to scour the Ethernet for ideas. Finally, I happened upon one that I had not yet tried. Stepping across the pile of assorted tools and a hastily constructed voodoo doll of the door, I attempted the new method. Ever so gently and holding my breath, I followed the steps. Then after a pause that seemed to last longer than “Transformers: Dark of the Moon” ran, I heard a snick and a pop. The handle turned! There before me in shining splendor sat the white porcelain throne. “Eureka!” I shouted. Before I could rise from my kneeling position of giving thanks, my friend sprinted down the hall and hurtled over my back as if she were an Olympian competitor. “Sorry! I gotta go,” she said as the door slammed in my face, leaving me to do the pee pee dance until it was my turn.
You might also enjoy the Tumblr version of this story. 🙂