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Sunday, February 7, 2016

Moment of Terror

 Several years ago, it was about 24 minutes before the final episode of 24, and I had just enough time to make it home from work for the sake of Jack Bauer’s inevitable pyrrhic victory. Then, in a plot-twisting complication, I got a phone call from Elizabeth, the 70-something retired secretary from my workplace. It had been a couple of years since we worked together, but I still talked to her sometimes, and helped her with lawn chores ‘n’ whatnot.
    “Chad, it’s Elizabeth. I just wondered if you could come by. My refrigerator is making a bad sound, and I’m afraid it’s going to die on me.”
    “Oh, uh… Yeah, I’m headed home now, so I can swing by.” Aargh! This would make me late, for sure! I almost made an excuse based on the fact that I don’t really know much about refrigerators anyway, but if Jack Bauer can consistently go 24 hours at a time without eating, drinking, peeing, or defecating, then I can stop by an old woman’s house to listen to her fridge.
    Once there, I entered the pantry area, where a few stairs lead to the kitchen. Elizabeth said she just started hearing the noise an hour or two earlier.
    “Huh,” I said, “You don’t think it ever made this sound before?”
    “No, it really sounds sick.”
    Using my youthful-human hearing abilities, I quickly homed in on the buzzing. It wasn’t coming from the refrigerator at all. A few feet from the fridge door, a furious buglike sound came from a beige canvas duffel bag squished beneath some sacks of stuff—probably a wealth of Ritz crackers and Werther’s Originals. Elizabeth’s place is always overstocked with snack foods. If her refrigerator does fail, she can still survive for several weeks on candy, crackers, and cookies.
    “Sounds like it’s in here,” I told her, “Kinda sounds like an angry mud-dauber.” I cautiously unzipped the bag. In seconds, I switched from stinging-insect apprehension to a completely unexpected fear. Shifting the contents of the bag, I found the butt-end of a plastic cylinder, the size of a flashlight… was it a “personal massager?” Was I about to pull an old lady’s vibrator out into the light of day? Too late to retreat now.
    “I guess it’s this,” I said, lifting the object from the bag.
    “Oh, that thing,” Elizabeth said. I turned it to find the OFF switch, and was relieved to see the brand PEDI-PAWS stamped into the rubber grip. “Sophie’s nail-trimming doodad.” Phew, little dog Sophie had her own personal hygiene needs. I turned it off.
    “Mystery solved, I guess.”
    “It must have gotten turned on,” she guessed, “when I set that other bag on top of it.”
    I scooted on home, wondering how many Pedi-Paws are sold to people without pets.

1 comment:

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