Attic ©

In the thick night I hear it scurry across the attic floor above my bed. It is a small light-footed sound, but I can easily hear it when all else is quiet. I hear it gnawing in dark hollow nooks. When it scampers about and its tiny claws brush against my attic floor, I have visions of boot-sized beetles scuttering in the pitch-black dust overhead. If the effort were not so great at those dead hours, I would light a lantern and march wearily up to the attic. But I know how hopelessly impossible it must be to corner a rodent by lantern light.
Last night, in the heavy darkness, the gnawing drove me to such frustration that I foolishly ripped back the bedclothes and pounded the ceiling with an old walking cane that belonged to my father. I stomped about the room in the darkness stabbing the ceiling with the rubbered tip of the cane. The gnawing continued calmly – I angrily desisted. As day broke, I was able to see each place I punched the ceiling with the cane. The rubber tip of the cane has left black, half-circular marks all about the ceiling. The black grins stare down mockingly, taunting me.
I draft these notes with pen to paper and realize now – now that the calming light of morning shines – how similar is the sound of my pen’s scratching to that of the tiny talons in the dark.
I have set tiny traps made from small slats of pine wood and primed them with cheese. The traps were designed in such a way that when an unsuspecting rodent releases a trip that is baited, a spring-loaded lever slams down with tremendous force, crushing the rodent’s skull and killing it instantly. I have set many traps in my attic – but I have retrieved none. Upon each subsequent visit to my attic, in the days that followed, the traps were not to be found. I imagine that perhaps each trap latched onto its victim in some unfortunate way, and was dragged away.

I believe I may have misjudged the creature. Upon a closer listen, I believe the beast in the attic is large, perhaps a squirrel. And it darts about excitedly. Silent and still one moment, then dashing forward quickly the next, the way a cat may pounce upon its prey. Then it is silent again for hours.

Today I set a large cage in the attic. The trap is a cleverly designed device that is sure to win me this battle, and thus this war. This trap is a long wire cage, about an arm’s length long, from shoulder to fingertip. The trap is readied by placing a tempting treat at the rear of the cage where, as by design, the entering beast then steps its weight onto a trip, causing the front opening of the cage to bang shut – capturing the beast. I will sit up tonight, lantern ready, and wait for the crash of the cage door.

I checked the cage in the attic after I had a light breakfast. The cage was empty of bait and the trap remained unsprung. Either the beast was too light to trip the trap, or some other mystery is afoot.

Ha! I am quite the clever one. This evening, before the sun set low, I spread a generous amount of flour in the attic. The flour will be used to capture the prints of the beast, and then I shall know what I am dealing with and thus, how best to rid my attic of its nuisance. It looks as if a soft dusting of snow has fallen. And maybe it has. I was careful to spread the flour on the attic floor as I backed my way out – so as not to disturb the flour. The attic door is a small door, only five feet tall and little more than a foot wide. The door is in an upstairs bedroom. It is an unused bedroom that is directly above my own. I mention this only because I care to keep writing on the matter as I wait for some sudden movement overhead.

I have waited quite long enough and burned my candle low. I will retire disappointed this dull evening but I shall check the flour for prints in the morning.

I have awakened and relit my candle. I am sure I heard bumps in the attic and I would like to note it.
There! Surely I heard it again.
And so much flour on my hands and knees.

I fell asleep at my writing desk with my cheek pressed into my crossed forearms. The sun comes into my bedroom, it seems, from every window at once. Today there is no sun and there is a light rain. I slept later than I thought possible, especially in such an uncomfortable position as at the writing desk. I shall hold the gloomy day accountable for my late hour in rising, and – that I am quite pale with fatigue.

Can you imagine my state of startlement when I discovered the only tracks in the flour to be my own. I was quite sure I had spread the flour out before me and was careful to leave it unmarked as I backed my way from the attic. What a strange sight it was. My own boot prints turned round and round in the flour. Round and round and round. Whatever possessed me to behave so strangely – and have no memory of it. And the hand prints. What the dickens. Had I walked about on my hands as well? Had I made an oath to the devil? I am vexed and in need of rest. I will write more later.

Today I bought rodenticide. I will spread it about the attic and wait. I purchased a large supply as I believe the beast in the attic to be much larger than I had earlier considered. I believe the light-footed beast deceived me in the beginning. But worry not, I have the situation well in hand. And I shall not crack.

I spread the rodenticide evenly in the attic. I believe I let my emotions control my actions. You may think me mad, but it seems I have spread all the poison in the attic, sparing none. I spread much more, I am sure, than was necessary. But it is done.

I am writing less often. Words come with increasing reluctance.

What a wretched night. I slept poorly and have vomited nearly half the morning away.

The rodenticide in the attic is diminishing as rapidly as my sanity. But the beast. Ah yes, the beast in the attic, it crawls about incessantly. Quickly. Slowly. Darting about. Stopping. Day and night. Continually. Round and round and round it creeps.

I have nearly slept the day away. There is a chill, here in the attic.

I believe that man is shuffling about his room again. It is a small light-footed sound. If I stop creeping about and lie very still in the flour, I can easily hear him below. Sometimes I listen for hours. After dark has taken completely, I shall steal down and have a look. I shall pad about cautiously, as not to overcharge him with fear.

Take My Camel Dear ©

When Jesus asked his father whether He could borrow a donkey one morning, his father pointed out that he did not know whether he could trust his son with the donkey, reminding Jesus of that marriage in Cana last month where Jesus performed his cute little stunt – the one where He turned the water into wine. The entire wedding party fell into such a stupendous stupor that no one noticed when Jesus won every gold coin in the church by rolling a dreidel. It was one perfect round of spin-the-dreidel after another. No one even thought it odd. When Jesus was twelve He took his father’s best donkey without asking. This alone wouldn’t have been so bad, but Jesus lost the donkey in a bet with two Roman soldiers. Jesus misunderstood the bet and thought the soldiers meant something else by ass. Now the remaining soldier has two donkeys. This became a point of contention between Jesus and his father for quite some time.

“But father,” Jesus said, “I must get to the temple by noon. I will not make wine. I swear to it. Please let me borrow a burro.”
“Tell me son, why is it so important that you make the temple by noon?”
“I am meeting friends there father, and there is a flea market.”
“A what market son?”
“A flea market father. There will be vendors.”
“And just what do these vendors sell son?”
“Everything father. Goats, sheep, sandals, really really tall walking staffs.”
“Will Judas be there?”
“I do not know father, probably.”
“You understand I do not approve of him?”
“Yes father.”
“There is something about him I do not like.”
“So can I take the donkey?”
“I think it best not son.”
“Ah gee whiz father.”
“Watch your tongue son.”
“Yes father.”
“Take my camel dear,” said Aunt Dot, as she climbed down from her animal.
“That is hardly the point,” said Jesus’ father to his sister.
“Ah Joseph, you are too hard on the boy. He is a good boy, so He likes to dabble a little in the dark arts, what of it.”
“Thank you Aunt Dot. Can I father?”
“Fine, ” said Joseph, “but be home in time to wash lentils.”
“And Jesus,” said Aunt Dot, “please do not turn my camel to dust only to show your friends you can make it live again. The camels are never the same afterwards.” 
“I promise Aunt Dot.”

When Jesus arrived at the temple, Peter, Paul and Mary were waiting for him at the main entrance.
“Nice ride,” said Mary.
“Yeah it’s Aunt Dot’s”
“Can I ride him?” Peter asked.
“Better  not,” Jesus said, “she’s funny about her camel.”
“Turn him to dust,” Paul said.
“I promised my aunt I would not.”
“I bet it’s because you can’t.”
“Can too.”
“Can not.”
“Prove it.”
“I don’t have to prove anything.”
“I think it is because you can’t do it.”
“There,” said Jesus.
The four friends stared at the empty place where the camel had stood moments before.
“Uh oh!” Jesus said.
“That’s a lizard,” Mary said.
“I can see its a lizard,” said Jesus.
“Why did you turn your aunt’s camel into a lizard?” Mary asked.
“I didn’t mean to,” Jesus said.
“I told you He couldn’t turn him to dust,” said Paul.
“I hope your aunt wants a lizard,” Peter said.
“I can fix it,” Jesus said.
But before Jesus or any of the others could react, the lizard darted away, through the entrance and into the temple. 

Peter, Paul, Mary and Jesus all stood dumbfounded before scrambling together after the lizard. They all four reached the entrance at the same time. The friends pushed and shoved one another through the jammed doorway, because that seemed to make more sense than going through one at a time.
Inside, Jesus asked, “Did anyone see where it went?”
“No Jesus, you know why?” Peter asked.
“No, why?”
“Because we were all stuck in the doorway at the same time genius.”
“Well you should have let me go through first.”
“Oh really Jesus, who died and made you king of the Jews?” said Paul.
“Come on,” Mary said, “let’s find Jesus’ camel, er.. well, lizard, that is.”

The temple was large, loud and crowded and any chance of finding the lizard was fading rapidly. People walked by alone and in groups. The people who walked by in groups did not watch for lizards as they stepped. And neither did the people who walked by alone.

“We have to get everyone out if we have any chance of finding the lizard,” Mary said.
“And how do you propose we do that,” asked Jesus.
“I don’t know,” Mary said, “you’re the Messiah. Haven’t you any ideas?”
“FIRE FIRE FIRE!” screamed Paul. “FIRE FIRE!”
“Oh Jesus,” Peter said.
“What?” asked Jesus
“Nothing – just an expression.”
“Paul is right,” said Mary, “we have to get these people out.”
“Can you not just make another camel?” Peter asked.
“Aunt Dot will know. Don’t ask,” said Jesus.

Peter, Mary and Jesus joined Paul in screaming FIRE in the crowded temple. People ran in every direction at once. Jesus ran down the center aisle of the temple tipping tables and thrashing about madly searching for Aunt Dot’s camel that is a lizard. It took only a minute before the panicking people realized there was no fire. So they stopped panicking and watched Jesus tear through the center of the temple like a crazed fool. Even Peter, Paul and Mary stopped to watch as Jesus continued to destroy the temple and to scream FIRE! When Jesus realized He was the only one screaming FIRE, He stopped too. 
“Awkward,” Jesus whispered under his breath.
“That was  A W E S O M E,” Peter said.
“His father is going to be soooo mad,” Mary said.
“Fire,” Paul said with timidity, “fire.”

“I can explain,” Jesus said, “but I’d rather not.”

The people of the temple were angry at Jesus but Jesus assured them if they tore the temple down, He would rebuild it in three days. Then He left the temple in favor of the brutal desert sun. Outside, there in the dust was the lizard. Or at least it was a lizard. The friends agreed it probably did not matter whether it was the same lizard.  

The people tore down the temple, but Jesus did not return to rebuild it. Maybe He was speaking symbolically. Or He was grounded. Shrug.