In the morning at around 6 a.m., hoping not to disturb anyone, I tiptoed around the house. It was silent, except for my 4-year-old niece who was dead to the world, sawing logs. The sound was surprisingly loud for such a tiny, young girl.
It wasn’t long, however, before this snoring “silence” was violently penetrated by the unmistakable scream of a terrified human being under siege.
I went running to find my dad awake, looking sheepish yet unexpectedly relaxed, and still lying on the couch. Lucky’s perked head was peeking out from the blankets.
“Are you okay?!” I asked, a little out of breath.
“Ah, yeah, sorry,” he smiled, perhaps a bit embarrassed, ”I forgot where I was.”
“But why did you scream?”
“Well, I woke up disoriented, like I said not knowing where I was, to find this white furry animal burrowing into my armpit and I thought it was a rat. And you KNOW how I feel about rats!”
The white rat of course was Lucky, our Chihuahua.
My dad has a somewhat irrational fear of being attacked by gigantean rats. He claims to see them everywhere to the point of absurdity. They are in his boots, in his truck, at the dentist’s office, and openly strolling down the street in broad daylight and then lunging at his enormous pit bulls. They have been in his soup, in multiple restaurants, in the SHOWER and once in a sterilized operating room.
Now, I am not sure if he, being the fantastical storyteller that he is, is exaggerating about these rodent sightings, having perceptual hallucinations, or is suffering from some sort of delusional rat paranoia. Regardless, whatever it is, it is affecting his life.
After I reassured my dad that he had once again averted the plague-transmitting kiss of a coarse-haired lip, he lowered his voice and whispered, “But who is that man sleeping on the other couch?”
He appeared uncomfortable with the thought of being so close to a strange “man” and refused to sit up and look over to see for himself who the snoring man was. I glanced at Minnie, a small, skinny child of about 25 pounds, and said, “You mean Minnie??”
“What?!” My dad immediately sprung up from his makeshift bed, turned around and saw that it indeed was Minnie soundly snoring away.
“Wow, I thought she was a guy! How can she snore that loud??”
It was at this juncture I thought he’d had enough excitement for one morning and offered to drive him home, which he gratefully accepted.
It was still quite dim outside and as we walked out to the car, my dad witnessed something scurry in the dark.
He screamed AGAIN.
“Dad! What is it this time?!”
He pointed towards the plastic toy animal that was being blown around by the wind. One of the kids had obviously forgotten it outside the day before.
He needs help.