A Thud in the Night

A crashing sound wakes me up in middle of the night. I jerk upright in bed.

“There’s someone in the house,” my wife declares in a quieted but panicky voice.

Taking this as fact, I reach under the bed for a giant can of mace I purchased for such an occasion. I also purchased it because my wife forbade me from getting a handgun. I figured it was the next best thing since this particular mace was rated for bears and can shoot a thick stream a distance of twenty-five feet.

Throwing the door to our bedroom open, I muster up the biggest and scariest voice I can fake, “Who the [expletive] is in my house!?” I do this because I do not know where the intruder is in my house and hope to get a reaction that gives me a better idea on whether to turn right or left down our home’s hallway. No response.

Feeling rather good about my last attempt at sounding tough, and still wanting a better idea on the location of the bad guy, I give it another shot, “This is when you run, or I come and [expletive] you up!” Still the bad guy refuses to respond.

Thinking back to when the crash woke me up, I think it sounded like it came from the right, so that’s where I begin my search. Coming around the corner, mind you the house is completely dark, I see a guy crouching down into a corner.

In the nanosecond that follows, I contemplate whether to threaten him with the mace or spray him. Choosing both options simultaneously, I begin to say something mean and scary while, at the same time, I pull the trigger on the can of mace. Realizing that I can’t threaten an action while performing said action, my verbal assault quickly morphs into an impromptu battle cry.

“You better-agghhhhh!!!” my wife hears from the bedroom where she and our two daughters worry for my life.

When there is no reaction from the perpetrator, I flip the light switch. Instead of a criminal, I see a vacuum cleaner standing proudly. While obviously embarrassed for subduing an innocent vacuum cleaner, I still need to find the origin of the noise – whether it be an escaped convict or a malfunctioning children’s toy.

As I move to continue the patrol, I notice that my eyes start to burn. My nose starts burning next, and then it becomes difficult to breathe because each inhale causes my throat and lungs to burn; I start coughing. I race around in an attempt to find the still-on-the-loose intruder, but it continues to get harder to breathe. My wife and kids join in on the coughing.

I run to the hallway bathroom to wash off my face. I know the intruder could still be in the house, but I’m starting to think my wife was a little to presumptive in telling me that the noise was caused by a “someone.” As the faucet water does little to ease the burning, I notice that a bunch of bath time related items, kids’ shampoo and toys and whatnot, are strewn all over the bathtub and bathroom floor. It doesn’t take but a second glance to realize that their holder lost suction on the shower wall and the noise originated from the falling and banging of bubble bath, tears-free shampoo, and an assortment of rubber duckies. The next hour involves coughing, opening up windows, coughing, turning on a HEPA filter, coughing, vomiting, cursing, and coughing. My wife never got mad at me, and I never got mad at her. We instead joined forced in defending our home from vacuum cleaners, rubber duckies, and ourselves.