karmic bathtub monsters

I asked for permission before writing the frog story. I really did. And I even got it. But still I shoulda known the universe was gonna mess with me.

Since the middle of January, the city has been digging things up and surprising me with excavators and gigantic concrete storm-drain pipes and workmen in holes and trees devouring my fiber-optic wiring. But that is another story, except to mention that, as an aside, my plumbing has been all manner of screwy since the work got going.

When the scratching and thumping under my bathtub happened the first time, a week ago, I honestly did not know if it was Beasties or Plumbing. Then it stopped, and I forgot about it, consumed in bigger worries like protests and a cat covered in glue. (No, really. That happened.)

So of course, last night, when I was seeing to my pre-sleep bathrooming, the Monster Under The Tub awoke. It scuffled, it banged, and it made noises not unlike the sound of air in the pipes. I still didn’t know what it was until the skittering started. Then, fresh from my friend’s Frog Misadventure, I ran through the usual suspects (why does this always happen when I’m so tired) and tried to reason out what was underneath my bathtub.

  • Raccoon – unlikely, they get up into high places.
  • Possum – ditto. But they’re stupid, so perhaps.
  • Armadillo – maybe. Ground only. I have seen them (and called cops on them by accident) here.
  • Snake – maybe. Feral Cat sometimes barfs up ends of snakes for me.
  • Rat or mouse – haven’t seen any, thanks to Feral Cat, but it’s possible.
  • Other cats – unlikely, Feral Cat would run them off.
  • Frogs, lizards, etc – no way, not with that noise, not unless…
  • Feral Cat hunting things? Very likely. And a comforting thought too, compared to the alternatives.

I feel I should mention that I was standing there in my underpants, with my hair all over everywhere, barefoot and vulnerable, cleaning my glasses on the hem of my shirt while I thought about this and the Mystery Wossit went bang bang slide thud skitter skritch bang.

I then did three things: I put on pants and flipflops (why that would help if a snake suddenly leapt out of the tub drain I do not know), I got a flashlight, and then I investigated the drains and places where things don’t fit properly, to see if there were any points of ingress that A Noisy Thing could use to get into my bathroom. There weren’t, as near as I could tell; my house may have been designed by Frank Lloyd Wrong and the Seven Lazy Dwarfs, but I didn’t see anything when I shone a light up or down drains, except for nasty old plumbing and the usual gack. But the noises continued: furtive now, as though aware of my investigation above.

I decided I needed backup and moral support, so I went for the dog. My dog is fantastic. She is a Boxer, nine years old, and we have reached Canine-Human Telepathy, unless there’s something for her to chase. She can read me so well that she’ll respond to a raised eyebrow, in different ways, depending on context. She is perfect and wonderful and I adore her.

She froze when I called her to the bathroom, and then made all sixty pounds of herself as small and unnoticeable as possible (tricky when you are brindle and the bedspread is navy) because Being Called Into The Bathroom only ever means Horrible Baths.

Somehow I hadn’t thought of that.

So I hauled the dog by the collar into the bathroom, and shut the door. She stared at me miserably. The Tub Wossit was silent. I held up a hand: “Wait, baby.” Dog curled herself in a small unhappy submissive way near the door. We waited the Thing out, and again it made a sound.

Suddenly all fear of Baths was gone, because Dog had heard a Thing That Should Not Be There, and this was very interesting. I called her up to the tub to listen, and she did, sniffing curiously, the hair along her spine raised, her little nub tail flickering occasionally to show me that she was focused but also still listening to me. She tilted her head one way and another, sniffed everywhere she could, tried to fit behind the toilet for better acoustics and smell – and then, for the first time since she was a baby, willingly bounced into the tub to sniff at the drain and listen.

I’m sure it was quite a sight, the two of us standing knee to shoulder and staring intently at an empty bathtub. She’d glance up at me when it made a really good sound – Boss, didja catch that? – and then go back to staring at the source of the noise. I wished she could tell me what she smelled, possum or ‘dillo or cat, so I’d know what the hell was under my tub. But she didn’t try to tear out the fixtures to get to it, so it couldn’t have been that tempting.

Later on, Feral Cat came happily trotting up from that side of the house, so I am going to take that and Dog’s lack of crazed prey drive as a sign that it was the cat hunting… whatever… under the house. Which is fine, as long as she doesn’t get glue all over herself again.