Noises in the night

Weekend Witness - - Opinion - MEAN­WHILE ... Stephanie Sav­ille

AS I walked to­wards the kitchen, I stopped dead. What was that? It was Fri­day evening and I was starv­ing. I’d got home from work at around 6 pm and was in need of sup­per. Now. I’d switched on the light as I made my way to­wards the kitchen and my heart sank as my ears — very sen­si­tive to any sounds — per­ceived the noise.

What I’d heard was a sin­is­ter scuf­fling sort of sound, but it stopped as soon as it started. I brushed it off and went into the kitchen to rif­fle through the fridge, look­ing for nour­ish­ment in the form of some left over pizza from the night be­fore. The guy in the house joined me there. I think he had his eye on the pizza, but there was only enough for one and I claimed it first. Fast. He’d have to get a ready meal from the freezer. He didn’t

mind. He found one that re­quired a quick de­frost and re­heat so got busy with that.

While we were chat­ting and de­cid­ing on the evening’s bev­er­age of choice and tele­vi­sual feast, we heard it again.

“Did you hear that?” I asked wideeyed.

“Yes, what was it?” he asked all non­cha­lant-like. “I dunno. But it wants to get in.” The scuf­fling had mor­phed into a per­sis­tent scratch­ing and we turned to­wards the pa­tio door where it seemed to be com­ing from. Or was it? It seemed to stop ev­ery time we made a noise, but it def­i­nitely moved mys­te­ri­ously to­wards what sounded like right above us.

It had to be a rat, we thought. “It wants the bird seed,” I said, help­fully point­ing out that we should put the wild bird seed into a hard con­tainer so the rats can’t get to it. But searched as we could in­side the house around the em­a­na­tion point of the sound, gin­gerly and ready to run a mile if ratty pre­sented it­self, we found noth­ing.

The sounds got louder ev­ery time we stopped to lis­ten. I in­ves­ti­gated from some other win­dows, peer­ing out into the dark, to see if I could find the source of the noise. He shrugged and car­ried on look­ing for the bev­er­ages.

When I re­turned to the kitchen, my mis­sion in­com­plete, the noise had stopped. We car­ried on the im­por­tant task of pre­par­ing din­ner and ex­chang­ing the news of the day.

But then, doof! came a loud noise, on the tin roof near the braai area out­side.

“Sh­h­hhh!” I said to him. We looked at each other with big eyes as the doof, doof, doof con­tin­ued. “Maybe it’s some­one walk­ing on the roof,” one of us said. I thought it must have been a gi­ant it was so loud. I feared the thin tin could buckle un­der its weight.

I leaped into ac­tion and ran up­stairs, to gain a bet­ter vantage point to spot the in­truder, ready to yell at him and to chase him off. But, as I peered into the dark out­side, there was no sign of any­one. But the loud bangs kept com­ing.

Puz­zled and now very hangry (hun­gry + an­gry), I grabbed the keys to open the door so we could chase the in­truder away and set­tle down to en­joy our sup­per.

My mind was also flooded with thoughts of rob­beries and home in­va­sions. We cover th­ese sto­ries all the time. I know the score.

I know th­ese things hap­pen in neigh­bour­hoods like mine, to peo­ple like us.

I switched the out­side light on to il­lu­mi­nate the area in which we were go­ing into mor­tal com­bat. Rather die in the light, I al­ways think.

Then, as we opened the door, I spot­ted him. He was ly­ing on his back, legs and arms wav­ing in the air. This was our in­truder. This was our neme­sis …

A huge dung bee­tle had been at­tracted by the light from our win­dow. The scratch­ing and scuf­fling sounds came from his prickly legs on the wooden winWRITE TO US AT LET­[email protected]­NESS.CO.ZA dowsill and the glass of the win­dow.

The thumps had been the re­sult of him try­ing to fly up and hit­ting his ar­moured body on the tin roof awning above him. To my great joy, he seemed un­in­jured by his as­sault on our house. I thought he just seemed pretty hacked off about hav­ing landed up­side down.

The guy bent over and care­fully scooped him up and set him gently on the oregano in the nearby herb gar­den where there is no roof to stop his pas­sage to the sky.

Our in­truder thanked us by show­ing us his bot­tom so we walked away and left him to his sulk­ing, back to our re­spec­tive sup­pers, a tele­vi­sual feast and a glass of some­thing nice.

Isn’t it nice that some­times, the scary rob­ber in your head is, in re­al­ity, just a big, beau­ti­ful, glossy brown, and very cross, dung bee­tle.

En­joy your Satur­day and Sun­day, week­end war­riors! • Stephanie Sav­ille is the deputy edi­tor of The Wit­ness.

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