Jeff Smith 6 p.m., Oct. 8
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- Sand in the Potato Salad
Wild Kingdom in I.B.
It’s been a slow month here at Imperial Beach World Wide Headquarters. The Communist went to Bolivia, the raccoons vacated from under my roof, and I’ve been practicing my Ninja powers.
I have the house completely to myself. That’s all right. I am perfectly content with silence. I’m not a person who must have music playing, or the television blathering on in the background when I am alone. I have plenty going on in my head as it is, believe me. I like to be by myself. I’d make a good hermit. I don’t even have a pet. Unless you count the big fat black spider that lives on the shelf in my shower, between an old shampoo bottle and the window.
When the Communist was staying here, it was all good, don’t get me wrong. He’s a great guy. Super helpful. He’ll bring home beer and food, and he really keeps the kitchen clean. He’s a big fan of the bicycle, (“It’s the most efficient form of human powered transportation, dude.”) and studies at UCSD. He’s mostly interested in the people and cultures of Latin America. Oh, and he also studies how to throw off the yolk of corporate oppression. Those types of things.
I like peace and quiet so much, I am disturbed by almost any sound. I sleep lightly, with my bedroom window open. I know most of the night sounds in my neighborhood. I’m familiar with the sounds of cats fighting, of skateboard wheels thump thump thumping over the cracks in the sidewalk, and the deep rumble of Unknown Harley Guy taking off for work at four in the morning.
So it was strange to hear something I had never heard in my entire life coming from just outside my window deep into the wee hours. I awoke to something that sounded sort of, well, liquid. Horror movie, monster liquid sounds. “Bloop.” A pause, then. . . “Blo-oop.”
The noise was coming from right outside my window! About six feet from where I was. I lay there in my bed listening, trying to figure it out.
People have described me as an outdoorsy guy. I sometimes go backpacking far into the Sierras for weeks at a time. I’ve lived in the South, camped in the Everglades, and spent my teenage years on a farm in the Mid West. I’ve heard many different critters outside my tent, but this was something way different. I was ninety nine percent sure it wasn’t a monster.
My mind went spinning like crazy trying to figure it out. Whatever it was sounded reptilian somehow. Like a giant cane toad. That was the picture that came to me out of the dark. Heavy. A couple of pounds at least. Then I heard scraps of wood move around. Then a vicious snarl accompanied by a loud croaking scream.
I jumped up out of that bed so fast! Then I simply danced around the room like a confused idiot, not knowing what to do. I wanted to go out there and see what it was, but I wasn’t going out there naked, and I was too lazy to put on clothes and go out into the dark to find out what it was at three in the morning. Where in the hell was the flashlight? Did I need my pistol? It sounded much too scary to actually go out there. Why ask for trouble? Oh well, a wild animal wasn’t going to try and come into the house. I slammed the window down and the sound stopped.
My thoughts reeled. In my mind, a giant African cane toad, a vicious, oozing, croaking monster of five or six pounds had been released in my neighborhood, and had found its way into my yard during the rain. It was fallen upon by a feral cat and that scream was its last gasp of life.
I couldn’t be sure if it was the cat or the creature that had screamed. Or what had eaten what. I slept fitfully until dawn.
It bugged me all the next day. I searched the side of the house and didn’t see any clues at all. Later I went out the front door and happened to look up. Underneath the eaves of the house a family of raccoons relaxed. There was a big one just napping. It opened its eyes and saw me and yawned and stretched out one paw. I saw the babies moving around behind it.
Dang! A few nights before, I had also seen a possum crawling along the cedar fence out back while I was sitting on the patio in the dark, drinking a home brew. It’s getting to be like a nature channel around here.
I wondered what kind of trouble it was going to be to get the raccoons out of there, but they simply moved on the next day.
My neighbor told me she had been putting Li’l Tink Tink’s left over cat food out on the fence at night. The baby raccoons must have been fighting over the food when the canned salmon ran out. Who knew they could make that “Bloop” noise? The whole incident probably took a couple of years off my life.
It doesn’t take much to surprise me. I sort of like being surprised. The world is full of wonderful surprises if you are open to them. I stumbled across an interesting book in the Coronado library. “Thinking Body, Dancing Mind” is a book on how to use visualization techniques and affirmations to improve sports performance.
As I read it, it occurred to me how I could use these very strategies to improve my life in general. So I’ve been practicing. I picture things I want to have. I visualize them already manifested. I do this over and over while chanting affirmations. Of course my friends know nothing of this. I haven’t turned into a full fledged Ninja yet, but I finally accomplished a kitchen construction chore I have been putting off for well over a year. I tore out my old fluorescent kitchen lighting, and replaced them with recessed can lights. There’s a dimmer switch and everything. I can’t tell you how happy I am that I’ll never hear that awful electric hum over my head as I cook again. My girlfriend, Miss Kitty, was very much impressed with my remodeling skills. Even though the project is still not painted.
Don’t blame me. The inability to finish projects runs in my family. My brother in Indiana has been “remodeling” his bathroom for twenty years. I’m not joking.
It doesn’t seem like much, but understand that my powers are still weak. I must practice more. These are Ninja powers we are talking about, and I don’t want to overdo it.
I’m going to try and use those new found powers and get my Jacuzzi running again. Talk about a nature show. I’m afraid to even look under that thing. Maybe that is where the raccoons went. I’ll get the Communist to help me when he returns in April. Sort of a World Wide Headquarters work camp kind of thing. If I can get my friends Big Black and VanDam to help me lift the Jacuzzi and put it on blocks, we can probably chase whatever is living under it out of there and then Tweeker Bobby can get it all wired up and ready to go.
I’m starting to picture it all in my mind right now. Hot, soothing, bubbly water after a surf session, “...sippin’ on Gin and Juice, lay back.”