I am the scourge of the strange noises in the middle of the night. When my wife asks “Honey, I hear something downstairs,” that is my bat signal. I rouse from a slumber and sit and listen. I know every sound this house makes, and the ones that it doesn’t.
Two bumps followed by a thud: Intruders have broken into my little suburban home and mean to do my family harm and possibly eat all my doughnuts.
A glass breaking and then ten seconds of silence: The intruders are obviously very messy and should learn to clean up after themselves.
No matter, when there is a noise downstairs then it is my duty to check it out. I never put on any clothes when I do this. I like to take my intruders by shock and when they see the bigfoot that is me coming down au natural, it will be the biggest shock of their life.
At the top step, I hear another noise. Something is being moved. Whether that is something big or small, I yet cannot tell. Even with my super hearing, there are some sounds that elude me. I pause and think.
What foul adversary awaits me below? Why the hell am I always the one to do this? I’m forty-six-years old, what am I supposed to do? Tell burglars that it’s a great time to refinance their mortgage? I’m a middle-aged suburban dad. I’m about to get my ass kicked.
By the second step, my fists clench tight as I prepare for battle. Perhaps aliens have come to my house to probe me in a way most foul. Are they ready for the Armageddon that I bring? I have a stuffed bear that I picked up on the stairs in my hands. It’s the perfect weapon for the epic struggle about to begin. More thoughts come to me.
I should have put on clothes. Like, seriously. I’m going to get beat to a pulp and when the police show up, I’m going to be embarrassed. Maybe my man stink can distract them long enough for me to run back upstairs and get dressed. I should have brought my phone. Why am I holding this stupid bear?
Another bang. Something has fallen off the counter. They are toying with me; the aliens and their probes. It’s a song and dance we play. They make a sound and my mind races to interpret what that means.
Man, I really hope it’s not a frozen pipe that’s busted. It’s super cold outside. The family wouldn’t have any water when they wake up, and I would have to run outside naked to the water main to turn the water off. Or is the water main in the basement? I should really know this stuff before 2 am in the morning.
That’s the thing with being a hero. When the call comes, the strange noises in the night, we must answer. We are never truly ready. But that is the difference between a hero and an ordinary man. No matter what, we go.
There are feet on the ground, and they are moving fast. The sound is light and padded. It’s as if someone is wearing slippers as they prepare to ambush me. I grip my teddy bear weapon tighter, ready to strike at the first sign of danger. As I jump off the last stair and emerge into the darkened living room, I formulate a plan.
I should have turned on the lights before I came down here. I am the dumbest naked man alive. What the hell am I supposed to do now? Maybe if I offer to make them a nice breakfast, things will be cool? Oh, wait, I should probably say something super tough.
It ‘tis my battle cry. A simple hello that strikes fear into all that hear it!
“I’ve got a bat.”
Ha! They didn’t see that coming. I’ve named this teddy bear “Bat” for just this occasion. That way I can’t be accused of lying when the authorities finally show up. If a hero doesn’t have his word then what does he have?
That last statement I say just to get into their heads, much like how they are now in mine.
Why do I come down here? Why is it always me? Ok. I have a family. It’s my job to protect them. Ok. I’ve got this. No, I don’t.
From the corner of my eye, I see something dash by. It’s only a small movement. Fleeting. Dark. There and then gone. The chase is on! I raise my teddy bear of doom above my head and bravely go forth into battle.
From one room to another I follow the shape. These alien intruders are small and quick. Strange and unknown. And yet, somehow very familiar. Out of breath, I stop to reassess my situation.
Oh, I should probably turn the light on.
Thinking quickly, I turn the lights on. And there, sitting on the kitchen table is my doom. The foul beast that has woken my wife and sent me forth. Our cat.
“Dude, seriously?” I say as I confront the creature. “You damn near gave me a heart attack!”
“Meow,” the creature challenges.
“Christ. I’m going back to bed. Stop knocking things off the counter and go to bed.”
As I make it back to my bed, my slumbering wife wakes momentarily to ask me what the sound was.
“Vicious and terrible. But rest assured, my most loved, I have returned to our bed victorious.”
“That’s good, dear,” she says.
Downstairs, I hear another glass pushed off the counter.