The Intruder

(c)Hylo Bates, 2002

It was a normal day like any other. After an uneventful night of working to keep the neighborhood safe and in order, I had retired to my home to rest. A nice, leisurely bath was behind me, and now I was nestled down on one of my many beds, peacefully enjoying the nether regions of almost-sleep.

I heard the front door jostling, and then it opened. I lifted up my head and listened alertly. It wasn’t the normal time for my roommate to come home, but I wasn’t too alarmed yet. Sometimes she’d stop by at odd times, dashing in and then back out after getting a drink or something.

Immediately, though, I could tell by the footsteps on the cool, hard floor by the door that it was not my roommate. It was not her male friend, either; he came over now and then and sometimes stayed all night. This sounded like someone heavier, so I got up from my slumber and hopped down from the bed. Cautiously, I went to the corner of the doorway, as I heard the intruder walking up the stairs. I moved to the bottom of the stairs without a sound, and peered around the corner just in time to see the stranger disappear at the top.

What was this person doing? Something was not right here. He’d gone into the water room now, because I could hear his heavy steps on the floor up there. The water room had a hard floor like the area near the front door, and it remained cool even on the hottest days. I often took naps in that room, either laid out on the floor at the base of the giant washing bowl, or curled up in the bowl-counter with the metal water hose in it. Now this intruder was invading the water room, and I knew it was up to me to defend my home. As I got to the top of the stairs, I heard some strange noises, and could tell by the hollow echoes that the stranger was doing something to the swirling-chair.

I knew the swirling chair well, because I had taught myself how to pull the handle a year before. It was a neat trick: you pull the handle, and the swirling chair makes a great noise, and the water in the middle of it swirls round and round and then disappears. Once the great noise dies down, you can do it all over again. But my roommate, who used the swirling chair as her litter box for some bizarre reason, hadn’t thought the trick was very neat. Now there was a piece of tape over the shiny handle, so I couldn’t play with the swirl-chair anymore. My roommate can be bossy like that; she likes to tell me what I can and can’t do. Back to the invader, though.

As I peered around the corner into the water room, I saw the back-end of a person. He was down on all four legs with his head hidden behind the swirling chair, and metallic sounds emanated from the area. I couldn’t figure out what he was doing. He wasn’t playing with the chair, because he didn’t even look at the handle. So what was he doing? I decided that, since he didn’t seem to be trying to steal anything valuable, I’d just keep an eye on the stranger. I stayed by the door, watching him intently.

Just as I was considering laying down to watch the stranger from a more comfortable position, he backed out from under the swirling chair and sat back on his hind legs. I ducked my head low to the ground, keeping one eye on him. Apparently, he saw the movement out of the corner of his eye, because he turned toward me. I braced myself for a confrontation. He was much bigger than I, but this was my home, and I was determined not to back down. But the invader just said something to me in his unintelligible language and then stuck his head back behind the swirling chair.

After another few minutes, the man stood up all the way. This time he had a weapon of some kind, a large metal object that he held in one hand. I retreated to the bedroom across the hall when I saw that he was armed. When I peeked back out the doorway of the bedroom, the man was turning off the light and leaving the water room. The weapon was hanging from his mid-section now, attached to some strap. He said something again, apparently to me, judging by his intonation. I flattened my ears and said, “Don’t come any closer. Just leave now and I won’t hurt you.”

He seemed to get the message, because he said something else and then went down the stairs toward the front door. I watched from the top of the stairs, and the stranger stopped by the door and talked to himself for another minute.

“Yeah, Steve. It’s Bob here. I just finished up the job on Pinehurst…the leaky toilet. It just took a few minutes and they don’t need any parts. Yeah, the landlord gave me a key. No, no one was here but a big cat that just watched me from a distance and hissed at me a couple times when I got up to leave. I’m headed to lunch now, so I’ll talk to you again in about an hour. All right, I'll catch you later.

After he’d left, I jogged down the steps and jumped up on the window ledge. The stranger got inside a large traveling box and drove away. Satisfied that my home was safe again, I walked over and jumped on the couch. I was proud of the way I’d stood up to the invader and scared him away despite his size and weapon. As I washed my face, I thought about how lucky my roommate was to have me around. When she got home, I’d tell her all about my little adventure, but I knew she wouldn’t understand a word I said. Humans are strange.

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