I was lying in bed watching the late news when I first heard it. I’d just devoured a particularly creepy episode of 48 Hours Mystery, which should not be legal after seven cups of coffee.
The weather report was on, with no rain in sight.
Sometimes I hear things that turn out to be the dog under the bed doing whatever poodles do down there. That wasn’t it, because Coco was curled up sleeping at my feet.
Sounded more like the garage door. I turned the volume down and held very still, as if that might help.
I imagined someone reaching into my truck, punching the remote on the visor, and letting himself in. If that was it, the intruder closed the garage door behind him, because I heard the noise again.
I stared at the silent television, wishing I hadn’t had so much caffeine. The icemaker emptied into the bucket. I jumped and kicked the dog, who came up barking, looking toward the stairs. The stairs a criminal would have to use to get to my bedroom from the garage.
Still careful to move only my eyes, I scanned the room, considering my options for self-defense. I was in trouble unless I could fashion a weapon out of some novels, a remote, and a stack of unpaid bills.
“Get away or I’ll paper cut you and make you watch Bachelor Pad.”
Then the dog had to pee. I could face my nerves or prepare to clean the carpet. I hoped to go out to the deck for a smoke and maybe discover the neighbors using power tools in the dark, so I could calm down.
I heard it again when I got to the kitchen. If it was a robber rapist ax-murderer operating the garage door he was still pushing buttons. I peeked out the back door, let the dog out, and then slipped out.
I’d just lit up and looked to the stars when something slammed hard into my chest at exactly the same moment that I heard it again.
I swung and swatted and twirled. The grasshopper hit the siding so hard that he surely got brain damage in that tiny green head.
Thunder. Eighty miles north of the only storm predicted. I hung over the deck rail and looked to the south. My sky was lit by stars, the neighbors’ by lightning, and it was gaining on me.
Mystery solved, I headed in to set the coffee pot for morning, but not before running to the truck to make sure it was locked. Just in case.