Janet Combs

Janet Combs

We have some leftover wood staged in our work area up on our back porch, where we were cutting our freshly painted toe-kick molding to match our new white kitchen cabinets. So that was definitely a plausible explanation for the loud THUD my husband and I heard last night —a gust of wind could have caught a board and knocked it over.

We also had a few remaining cabinet doors awaiting our installation, swathed in sheets, propped up on towels draped over chairs around our dining room. This gave the space a museum-like quality — as if we were about to unveil an exhibition of rare paintings. To be honest, the craftsman who painted our cabinets did such an artistic job that each door deserved the Mona-Lisa handling, so we were horrified at the possibility that one of them might have suddenly slammed to the floor, resulting in the resounding BAM we heard last night.

Finally, our daughter was visiting, having flown in from Brooklyn to surprise me for Mother’s Day weekend, which was an unexpected and treasured gift. She is a writer and a dancer, which provided many options for my late-night imagination as the source of the jarring THUNK. Could she have packed an old-school, library-size dictionary with her — and dropped it off the side of the bed after drifting off to sleep in the middle of reading the L's? Could she have accidentally knocked over a nightstand while doing rond de jambs? Both of these scenarios, while highly implausible, warranted investigation.

All I know is that my husband and I bolted upright in bed at 11:49 p.m. and uttered a simultaneous, “Did you hear that?” We immediately got up, turned on the lights, and checked the interior of the house. Nothing was amiss. Our daughter’s light was still on, but my husband said she was probably fine and we shouldn’t disturb her.

Because I am a Mom, however, I naturally got up two minutes later to knock on the bedroom door of our adult daughter. The fact is, motherhood never ends and a child is never too old to be checked on. Arual, whose name has been spelled backwards for privacy, told me she was fine and that she hadn’t heard the recent CLONK.

About an hour later, the next CRASH sounded. I leapt up and met Arual in the hall.

“I definitely heard that one!” she said.

We flicked on the lights as we strode to the rear of the house. We each adopted that curious racewalker’s stride — useful for when you need to get somewhere in a hurry, but not that much of a hurry because you are experiencing the corporal rigidity that comes with intense fear.

Something told me to turn on the back-porch light and open the door.

I looked out, assessed the situation, and slammed the door shut.

“Okay.” I said to Arual. “Okay,” I repeated.

This was not exceptionally informative. Arual put her hand on the door.

“Don’t open it,” I said. “There’s a raccoon face.”

“Just the face?” she said.

“That’s all I saw,” I said. “A big raccoon face.”

Arual is from New York, where she has observed many a rodent face, so she was unperturbed and opened the door.

“The raccoon face is gone,” she reported. However, the recycle bin of vaguely rinsed dog food cans was off its top-rack position in our three-tiered recycling center, knocked to the ground with its contents cluttering the deck.

“We’ll get this in the morning,” Arual said, closing the door.

“Maybe we should leave the porch light on,” I offered.

“And why would we do that?” said Arual. In my terror, I had evidently categorized the devilish raccoon as a member of the Vampire genus.

It took me about an hour to fall asleep, dreaming fitfully of swirling, jeering raccoon faces. But I woke with resolve: raccoon-proofing is now at the top of the never-ending home-improvement list.

Janet Combs is a freelance writer living in Georgetown County. Her column is published regularly in the Georgetown Times. Contact her at https://janetfrickecombs.wordpress.com.