Hey Rocky

About a week ago I noticed my dishwasher was making a weird noise mid-cycle. Sort of a rattling squeak, like a pump was blocked up or something. Although my landlords are pretty quick when it comes to fixing things, they're notoriously slow when it comes to replacing stuff -- so immediately I was concerned that I was gonna get caught (in a holiday week no less) needing them to come through.

At the same time, it's a friggin' dishwasher. Not exactly the most intuitive of appliances when it comes to being able to fix it on the fly. So I did what I always do -- which is sorta kick it in the general area of the noise in the hope that it would shake whatever the blockage was loose.

The sound stopped. The dishes continued to cycle. Problem solved, check me out on my good side -- move on with the day.
Then about two days after that, I heard the noise again
..coming from the other side of the apartment.
I had to double-check to be sure I was hearing things right, but after a few minutes it was fairly clear that my original assumption was correct, and suddenly my "broken dishwasher" had moved from the kitchen to the living room. I dug around the area the noise seemed to be coming from, but couldn't find anything.
I searched around some more, but by that time the noise had stopped again.
It's weird, because all this was happening on the heels of the apparent runaway success of that movie Paranormal Activity, and all the buzz surrounding it. Having hated Blair Witch myself, I had steered clear of it -- but a lot of people I knew had taken the bait and checked it out. The funny thing was that responses were pretty much split down the middle. Either people though it was the scariest thing ever, or declared it fucking retarded and wanted their money back.

Ever notice when people you know gush over movies or music you don't like, your opinion of them sorta takes a hit? Not really sure why that is, but the more I read about the movie and heard about it -- the more I truly began to believe the people I knew who had been terrified by it were idiots who had been duped (once again) by another shaky-cam hype-fest.
And yet here I was -- weird noises in the walls, moving around in the dark, creeping in all around me.
Growing up in Colorado, my mother was fond of blaming the various odd noises that our house made on a "ghost" that she claimed was watching over us. I'm not sure where she picked the idea up, but over the short time we spent in that place, the idea of a benevolent spirit that made the staircase to the basement occasionally creak or was responsible for the car keys not being in the place they were supposed to be seemed endlessly cool.

So much so that I remember as we were packing up the moving van to come to Florida my little brother being really upset that we couldn't bring the ghost with us.

Perhaps part of that spirit was still with me, or I've just grown used to the various sounds and imperfections that come from living in a space that's attached to three other peoples walls. I looked around to try to figure out where the noise was coming from, I couldn't find anything -- figured it was nothing, and went on with my life.
Later that night I had a bizarre dream.
I dreamt that I was sleeping on the couch (which I actually do quite a bit), and a monster with beaded black eyes was watching me sleep. I could see myself, covers tucked around my feet and pulled to my shoulder -- utterly unaware of the figure in front of me. His shadow cast by the flickering of the television on the wall, silently engulfing my sleeping body in darkness. On the couch I would fidget and turn, but no matter how close it drew to me -- I wouldn't wake up.
I tried calling out to myself, but my voice made no sound.
I woke the next morning, scattered and worn from the restless dream that I could only remember in pieces, although the parts I could recall seemed so utterly vivid that it was hard to tell if they had actually happened or not. Kinda freaky.

Luckily it was a weekend morning so I had plenty of time to kind of shake it off, make some coffee, and engage my mind in other things. Soon enough, I found myself sitting in the corner of the couch -- ESPN on the TV, laptop close at hand, a coffee mug cupped in my hands, the warmth seeping into me, bringing me out of the fog the night before had left me with --
When suddenly and without warning, this happened:

Ever had something occur, like clearly happen right in front of you but it's so fucked up that you have trouble really accepting it? I mean, I live in North Florida, in an apartment complex filled with trees and natural landscaping. I see squirrels every day.
Just not in my living room less than a foot away from where I'm sitting.
He scampered from one window sill to the other, in a motion that seemed to indicate he wanted to get out, but couldn't figure his way through the glass. Every movement I made freaked him out, as he bolted back and forth. I opened my front door and tried to herd him towards it with no success. He'd just fly across the floor into the kitchen, and then back to the window sills.

By the way, for the record -- my cats? Fucking useless. Sure they were aware of another animal being in the house, but it was apparently not enough to interest them beyond watching it skitter back and forth. Lazy bitches.
Finally it darted back into the kitchen and disappeared.
I called the landlords office, but being a weekend had to leave a message. I checked around the dishwasher, and found a little space near the floor where it seemed he might have gotten in through (I figure he crawled in through the dryer vent outside). I filled in the gap and sealed it shut with duct tape. The way I figure it had gotten caught inside, was scared to death, and finally found it's way out after being chased around by me for a half hour.
If nothing else, I figured I had a funny story to tell.
Until the next morning -- when I woke up to see him sitting on the living room floor, staring at me.
Since then, he's continued to come and go -- conveniently nowhere to be found when the apartment maintenance guys come by, but leaving little traces of his presence on my carpet, and showing up every now and then as a blur racing from the corner of the couch to the laundry room.

Finally I raised hell with the landlords, and they replaced my outside dryer vent with a new one that's more like an air conditioning lattice, with openings that my new little roommate surely couldn't squeeze through. The day went by without incident, although I'd certainly been down that road before -- but finally after three days or so of poop-less silence it seemed my squirrelly ordeal had finally come to an end.
Which is good, because I don't know if you know this or not -- but squirrels are dicks.
UPDATE: ..This morning, he was in the kitchen again.

[Listening to:  Skindred - "Calling All Stations" ]


wigsf said…
Leave a coconut in plain view and the squirrel will eventually go completely insane trying to crack the thing open. Once insane, the squirrel will leave.
JerseySjov said…
how funny!
my cats are useless when it comes to vermin, as well. the only pests i have ever seen them even attempt to catch are ladybugs.
Heff said…
Just another example that owning cats is pointless.
Werdna said…
I thought all Florida cats were vermin killing machines. My cats have no interest in insects, but mammals are a different thing.
The Kaiser said…
I don't know about the cats, but I am positive that the dogs would not allow something like this to stand. They're pretty much not okay with anything being in their back yard, much less the house.

Squirrels are dicks though. There's one that I swear to god gets his jollies by taunting my dog. He runs up along the fence and sits there swishing his tail outside the window until Pavlov notices his them, then runs off. Pav freaks, I let him out, and he chases the squirrel along the fence to the end of the yard, where the squirrel goes up a tree and the dog is left leaping up and scrabbling, wishing he had claws. Happens at least twice a week