The Cross House
I did not sleep well last night.
Over and over I kept waking up. With a single thought: TRAPPED SQUIRRELS!
No matter how much I tried I could only think of one thing: In my beloved Cross House I had, inadvertently, trapped at least three creatures. Three increasingly panicked and terrified and hungry and thirsty creatures.
I was a horrible person. A monster.
Finally, morning came. But during breakfast my mind kept repeating in an endless loop: TRAPPED CREATURES!
I then tried to get some work done but my mind kept repeating: TRAPPED CREATURES!
Sigh. It was obvious that I had to get to the Cross House STAT.
Driving to Emporia I had to turn the audiobook off because I could not concentrate. My mind kept repeating, yes: TRAPPED CREATURES!
Arriving at the house, I quietly opened the front door. Then left it open. For, squirrels could escape! I then opened the south exterior door. Squirrels could escape! Then I opened the east exterior door. Then I went to the second floor and opened the porch door.
Then I tip-toed up to the third floor.
Awaiting me was the Holy Grail: the humane trap I had set out the previous day. A trap with a bowl inside containing squirrel catnip: peanut butter. I had no doubt that, today, the trap would contain at least one squirrel. I hoped though that maybe two squirrels had been trapped. I had prayed that all three known creatures had been trapped!
Crossing my fingers, I stepped onto the third floor, scanned my eyes across the huge expanse of the single room, and toward the trap WAY on the other side.
It was empty.
I stopped tip-toeing.
NO trapped squirrels? NO nibbled peanut butter? How was this possible?
I walked over to the tower room. And in an instant heard that sound. THAT sound. That horrible sound: Numerous squirrels scurrying in the tower attic.
Fuck, fuck, fuck.
It was now certain that I had no choice but to adjust to a new, horrible, and incomprehensible reality:
- I had trapped squirrels in my house.
- Said squirrels were uninterested in being saved.
- I would never sleep soundly again.
The ladder from yesterday was still under the attic opening so I stepped up and into the attic. The frantic scurrying intensified. Dramatically. Inside the attic and with my iPhone flashlight on, I looked around the witch-hat-shaped attic. No squirrels were evident. But…I could hear them all around me.
WHAT WAS GOING ON????????
Then, as I shined the flashlight to where the now-sealed opening was, a squirrel just…appeared. From nowhere. I mean, it was NOT there, then a split-second later it was there. It then scurried into a crevice.
Uhhhhhhhh…was there an inter-dimensional portal in the attic?
As I pondered this extraordinary idea another squirrel just…appeared. Then scurried into the crevice.
OK, it was now official. I was freaking out.
Then yet another squirrel magically appeared from…somewhere…and scurried into the crevice. Or was that two squirrels? My brain was too freaked out to count.
WHAT WAS GOING ON????????
Then all the scurrying sound stopped. I stood, freaked out, flashlight on, in the now dead-quiet attic.
You know how when the wiring in your house gets overloaded causing a circuit-breaker to trip?
That is what happened to my overloaded mind.
I had watched as three or maybe four squirrels had, seemingly, dropped into view from another dimension.
My mind tripped out.
Slowly, I stepped down the ladder.
Just as I turned to leave the round room I saw something odd…
This offered confirmation: I had without question trapped squirrels in the house. And they were now frantically trying to get out.
I would never sleep again.
As I stood staring my brain switched back on. I had an idea. An idea!
I unsealed one sash and opened it six inches.
All five windows have a contiguous exterior sill, reaching over to the roof. IF the trapped squirrels escaped they could reach the roof and then the ground.
But would they?
Could squirrels smell outside air? I hoped so. And I also hoped they would be drawn to the open window in a manner quite different than they had showed toward the trap.
The window thus opened to freedom — FREEDOM! — I walked downstairs. Now that I knew that the squirrels were upstairs, I proceeded to close all the open doors on the second- and first-floors, worried that heretofore external squirrels would join the internal group.
Then I stepped down to the basement to paint some sashes laying on the workroom table.
A little over an hour later I tip-toed back up to the third floor.
The trap was still empty. The peanut butter was still untouched. The window was still open.
But one thing was missing.
Sound. I did not hear a scurrying sound. Not even a hint of scurry.
Had the scent of “open air” attracted the squirrels to the window????????
I went back downstairs to finish a sash.
A bit less than an hour later I tip-toed back up to the third-floor.
And was met with…silence. Absolute silence. Glorious, thrilling, heart-pumping silence.
Not believing my luck I took a broom and knocked against the wood ceiling of the round room.
I stepped up inside the attic again.
Silence. Absolute silence. Not a scurry to be heard.
I scanned tha attic. Had the inter-dimensional portal closed?
Crouching to look closer my eyes scanned where the squirrels had “appeared”.
I could see the inner curve of the exterior cornice. And no squirrels were evident. But, in a flash, I realized that there was some kind of hidden raceway above the curved cornice but under the built-in gutter. And this raceway was not visible. But the raceway was where the scared squirrels had been hiding, it now seemed evident, when I sealed the opening to the tower attic. And the raceway is where the scared squirrels were darting back/forth in their 360-degree hidden void, creating the highly distinctive scurrying sound.
I again left the third floor.
And returned an hour later.
Absolute silence greeted me.
A tiny smile spontaneously formed on my lips. Were the squirrels, indeed, gone?
On the floor was a strip of gray foam insulation which the squirrels had pulled out from the five tower windows. I reinstalled it on one window, thinking that if it was still in place tomorrow, and that silence greeted me, too, there was a very good chance that the squirrels had escaped.
So, I might, might, just sleep soundly tonight.