Things that go bump in the night

We all have our perceptions of how things are. Living in the country you picture quiet living, few encounters with people and especially if like me, you're in a cottage in the woods on a large acreage, you imagine you are hidden away.

I have had my share of encounters with the local wildlife of course. Mr. Raccoon in particular, continues to visit and rattle the old wood door on the wood shed that's attached to the cottage. It's his way of telling me that he's a little annoyed that I've taken to bringing the bird feeders in at night and depriving him of his midnight snack. So when at 1:30 a.m. that door was loudly rattled I ignored it and continued watching a movie on my laptop. Even when it rattled two more times, the most I did was wonder why he was so persistent since he usually high tails it out of there after one or two tries. When the fourth rattle also included a few knocks I sat up and took notice! Now I know he can't do that! As I peered out the window I here a tiny female voice going, 'hello? hell?'

Now I suppose I should have just told whoever it was to go away. But she proceeded to elaborate with her name and to claim she was a neighbor, lived 3 doors up the road and could I help. With all the coverage in the news of those women who were imprisoned in Cleveland and one managed to escape to a neighbor and ask for help, I felt compelled to open the door. Risky, I know, but I reasoned that if she had accomplices waiting around the corner to rush me when I opened the door, she hardly would have mentioned her name and where she lived. But I'm not totally reckless so self defense training kicked in and I made sure to grab a small mini flashlight in my hand which would give me some punching power if I needed to fight and I resolved not to open the door too wide, just wide enough to see what she wanted.

"Yes?" I said, tentatively as I peered out into the pitch black. And there she was 5 foot nothing and thin enough to blow away in a high wind.

"Hi, hi, you know me right? I'm your neighbor" she says.

"Nooo, I don't own this cottage, I'm just visiting here. So I don't know any of the neighbors. What did you want?" Now I'm noticing she's dancing from foot to foot, weaving a little.

"Oh," she says, "I don't really know all my neighbors either. Um, um, do you have a cigarette?"

I proceed to tell her I don't smoke and that's it's very late and she should go on back home but she kept trying to make conversation, ask if she could use my phone and generally tried to avoid leaving and as politely and firmly as I could, I told her to hit the bricks and closed and locked the door.  Now I was just a little unnerved, wondering if she'd leave or hang around. Wondering if she might have broken into my car first looking for cigarettes. So out with the cell phone and dial 911.

A minute later a nice RCMP officer called me and I relayed the story to him, to which he responded with a sigh and said, "Ohhh, I think I know who that is. We'll send someone round to pick her up."

Sure enough, about 15 minutes later a call from another officer telling me 'the suspect was picked up, was extremely intoxicated and will spend the night in the drunk tank'. He asked if there was property damage to which I indicated I didn't know but wondered about my car. He replied with, "I'm sure it's fine. She does this all the time and breaking into cars is not her thing. Check it tomorrow and if there is damage give us a call back."

The next day in a conversation with a neighbor I do know, who lives around the corner, I found out this woman is perfectly harmless and just a real annoyance to the community. Everyone knows who she is and she is often picked up by the police after she has gone on a bender. Apparently she is quite nice when sober but efforts to entice her to get help have met with steadfast refusal, so her and her spouse continue to tip the bottle and maintain their reputations as the town drunks. She makes her rounds to many other houses from time to time looking for cigarettes or booze and in one case where someone gave in to her request to use their bathroom, they found after she left that she had stolen the bottle of mouthwash. Kind of sad I guess, but reassuring for me should our paths cross again. Hopefully not!

Needless to say, with a scare like that at 2 am, I was a little too wired to get to sleep. And when I did lie in bed to try, I was jumping with every noise and rustle I could hear outside and inside. With the resident mouse always crawling around in the walls and gnawing at things, it was near impossible. Then there was the birds pitter patter on the steel roof, the wind rustling the nearby tree branches...all in all...there was no sleep to be had. I think I finally dropped off around the time the sun started to come up. Thank goodness the next day wasn't a work day!

And I thought it would be peaceful out here in the country. I guess it's hard to truly escape from civilization except in the most remote of areas.


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