“Huh?” I snorted, startled, “What is it?”
“That stupid porcupine is howling in the backyard again,” she said. I curled up in a ball and feigned sleep for a few more moments but I’d already been awake because that stupid porcupine sounded a lot like a ‘96 Chevy Suburban arguing with a tin shed.
“Wake UP!” she repeated with added enthusiasm. Precious sleep slid off the bed and flew out the window, taking the perchance to dream part with it.
I rolled over and opened one eye, staring at the woman of my dreams, “What?” I said, “Porcupines have mean dispositions, long fangs, and they shoot quills. I’m not going out there. Way too dangerous. Maybe it’s looking for a mate or maybe some flabby suburbanite flesh. Maybe it’ll wander off.”
“It’s been out there for hours. Go tell it that it’s giving me a headache,” she said. It was pitch black outside and in the room, but strangely, I could see her eyes, like glowing coals in the dark. “Go chase it away,” she added, “get up. Do something!”
“Do something,” is the most disturbing thing a woman can say to a man. Women look to men to face overwhelming odds, to protect them, to chase away monsters, change diapers, bring home the bacon and tidy up the kitchen afterward. It’s in our culture. It’s the way we were made. Men wear pants. Despite all this, women throw them callously at things that go chomp in the dark.
Of course, making me go downstairs to face off with a sharp-toothed, quill-shooting monster is a lot of effort on my part so I’ll make her work for it a little bit. I ignore her gleaming glare and ask, “What if the porcupine turns on me? What if his gang name is Spike Kill Whitey and he doesn’t want to be chased away?” My questions fell on deaf ears because she had already fallen back asleep, lightly snoring despite the fearful noises coming from the back yard.
Dutifully, I struggled to my feet, but just as I started downstairs the porcupine shut up. I didn’t know if he, or perhaps it was a she, wandered off, or maybe died 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. “Do you hear that?” I said. She snorted back awake, “Of course I heard it! Go chase it away!” “No, no,” I said, “The porcupine is gone. Don’t you hear water running?”
Water running, living on a well and septic, in Fraser, the Coldest Spot in the Nation, is not a good thing. I gulped and stood up to do something.
What I did first was to step on the basset hound’s tail. She, in turn, gave out an elk-like bugle and ran headlong downstairs screeching like a British ambulance. This woke the three parrots who promptly began screeching in terror, trying to wake the dead, but forced to settle for every soul in the neighborhood.
Before long, everybody in the house was hollering at the tops of their lungs, lights were flipping on all over the neighborhood and I’m running all over 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 finally everybody fell asleep.
Wait! Did you hear that?
Jon de Vos writes from his home near Fraser.