My brain was full and my body was tired, that’s the only way to describe it. It had been a long week at work, the morning was spent doing yard work with my son, and the afternoon was spent swimming and playing in the lake. I disengaged from my family relatively early, about 9:45 pm, and lay down on my bed to read a book. Ahhhhhhhh.
I heard an annoying scratching noise from the direction of the window. At first I thought it was a critter of some kind scratching at the siding. But it didn’t quit, and sounded a little scrapier. I finally decided that it was my husband, mucking around in the dark with the bucket and rake I knew he left resting against the house outside our bedroom window. So I got out of bed with the complicated plan to press my face against the window to a) see what exactly he was doing in the dark; and b) knock on the window loudly or shout to startle him. This is the kind of adult fun I like to have.
I walked around to the other side of the bed. As I got to the window, I saw a stick poking up through the air conditioning vent on the floor. The stick was moving, and the vent cover was ajar. My husband had been talking about trying to slither under the crawl space to see if the air conditioning condensation line was full. It is entirely in keeping with my husband’s personality to attempt this at night, with a back injury, so I can’t be blamed for immediately jumping to the conclusion that it was my husband underneath the house trying to see if there was a blockage of some kind.
And then I saw the armadillo. He was standing right next to the vent, looking up at me, about the size of your average housecat, only armor plated.
Now I know that when I am given the choice of ‘fight or flight’ I run like hell, screaming, “Mike! Mike! Miiiiiiiiiiiike!” Mike was in the kitchen with the kids, and some part of my lizard brain decided that if I stood on the citrus colored striped carpet I would be safe. “There’s an armadillo in the bedroom. It came up through the air conditioning vent. I thought it was you messing around outside, but it was an armadillo coming up through the vent.”
Mike immediately flew into action, not even pausing to jump into a phone booth to change into his Superman uniform or question the ridiculousness of my story. He high tailed it into the bedroom, with the kids on his heels, giggling and loading up the camera function on their iPods. “Stay back!” he yelled, totally in Protector of the Family mode, and went in the bedroom to do battle, slamming the door behind him. I stayed on the magic carpet, the brain scrambling adrenaline still telling me I would be safe as long as I remained on the fruit colored stripes.
Mike came back out and announced that he had it trapped in the bathroom and needed all our help. He got a fishing net, designed to scoop up enormous catfish, a pickaxe, and a laundry basket. I stayed on the carpet until I was called out by name. I went into the bedroom and hopped up on the center of the bed for safety. “I need you to be back up,” he said, shaking the laundry basket at me. “If he comes running out of the bathroom I need you to throw this on top of him.”
“Not me,” I said, in a powerful display of cowardice. “I’m staying right here.” Thankfully, my children are not as much of a weenie as I am. They fought for the right to wield the laundry basket.
With the net in his right hand and the pickaxe in his left, my brave, brave man went into the bathroom to do battle with the armadillo. At first his voice was soothing. “Come here, little guy. I won’t hurt you. Don’t be scared.” There was a lot of thumping, and the voice devolved from pre-k teacher to Marine with a Vengeance. “Get out here, you little [expletive deleted] – I swear I will kill you. Get the [expletive deleted] away from the toilet!” More banging and scratching and thumping sounds.
This made my kids start screaming, “Don’t kill it! Just bring it outside!” and me start screaming, “Don’t kill it in the bathroom! I don’t want to clean armadillo guts out of the bathroom!” This made poor Mike start screaming at us to shut up. We shut up. We are not stupid.
Eventually the bathroom door swung open, and the conquering hero stood there with his foot on the tail of the armadillo, its body trapped under the net. “Get me the laundry basket. And some thick towels.” Like a seasoned surgical nurse, I brought him what he needed near instantaneously. He threw the towels over the net which was over the armadillo, and wrestled with it to get it into the laundry basket. It was a feisty bugger, and stronger than you’d think a thing like that could be, so Mike held onto it in the basket, and slid the basket across the floor and down the hallway over to the back door in a position you might call the “Downward Facing Armadillo,” the whole time shrieking for us to get in front of him and open the back door.
He managed to get everything outside, uncovered the armadillo, and it ran off, not before getting an ineffectual kick on the rear of its armored plates to make sure it ran off away from the house.
It took a while to clean up the mess, disinfect the bathroom and bedroom carpet and make sure all the air conditioning vents were secure in case Octivian (my daughter’s name for the armadillo) told his friends about his great adventure and they wanted to duplicate it. It also took a while to get our heart rates to a healthy rate and calm down enough to go to sleep.
It’s always something, isn’t it?
Lori B. Duff is the author of the Amazon ‘Hot New Release’ Mismatched Shoes and Upside Down Pizza, a collection of autobiographical humor essays. You can follow her on Twitter at @LoriBDuff and on Facebook at https://www.facebook.com/loribduffauthor. You can get her latest writing and news and more information about Lori at http://www.loriduffwrites.com