If you’re just now visiting my blog, you missed the first part of this tale from last week’s entry. Find it in my recent post links to the left. You’ll want to read them in order. Just like last week’s entry, I’ve noted the notebook’s translation in italics. My comments are in plain text.
My wife and son conveniently left for the coast this morning. I made an excuse about trading weekend shifts with somebody at work. Is lying wrong? Yes. Is it worse than my family thinking I’m a raving lunatic? No. With them gone, I was free to move furniture and return all the rented equipment before they got back. After Mrs. Eidler finished the translation, well…I was afraid to wait any longer. Here’s what she told me the rest of the notebook said.
Exhaustion eventually caught up with me, even with the nagging pain in my hand and arm. The ringing still threatened to unnerve me, but I took some comfort in my cat’s determination. He’d returned to his post in front of the refrigerator, so I assumed the invisible threat rested behind the appliance.
What was there about that space? It was dark and generally inaccessible. When my wife still kept the house immaculate and filled with the smells of baking, the refrigerator left its nook periodically. She dusted the floor and coils before pushing it back to its space. Since her death, my cleaning habits have not approached hers. What the vacuum couldn’t remove from in front of the appliance stayed thankfully hidden by its bulk.
The coils on the back of the refrigerator threw heat against the wall. In that tight area, it was sure to be much warmer than the rest of the room. Even in summer’s air conditioning, that space would be snug and toasty warm. It was sheltered from windows and door during winter as well.
I turned down the heat and threw extra blankets on the bed. Next I turned on every light in my bedroom. Just to be safe, I continued to wear my protective foil turban. In the morning, after some rest, I would make my plans. My hope was that the invisible threat would much prefer the space behind the refrigerator to my cold, well-lit bedroom.
I slept longer than I intended, but I felt rejuvenated and determined. A plan took shaped in my mind to deal with the threat, and I had some errands to run. So far, I had only irritated it. The consequences had been incomparable to anything in my memory. What might it do if it felt genuinely threatened?
I returned with my supplies to add to what already cluttered my garage, mostly floodlights and mirrors. I plugged gaps below doors with towels. I uncoiled extension cords and moved everything from the kitchen counters to the living room. Any shadow might provide respite for it. The stove gave me some difficulty, and I had to inch it out from its recess in the counter. I stuffed towels around the edges of the dishwasher. The curtains came down, rods and all.
At both doorways to the kitchen, I set up the floodlights. The light would confine them to the kitchen, I hoped. I prayed. Along with the overhead lights, the floodlights bathed the entire room in brightness. I propped up mirrors to reflect light into any areas where shadows remained. Next I set the trap.
On the kitchen floor, in front of the refrigerator, I placed a small jar to contain it, the gathered swarm of them. I wrapped the jar in butcher’s paper to block the light and angled the lid to create a spot of relative darkness in the jar. My cat felt the need to inspect my handiwork.
The cat retreated to the counter, but I chased him out of the room. There was a risk that he would cast a shadow, and I might only get one chance at my scheme. I needed both hands to pull the refrigerator from its nook. It moved slowly. Once free, I held a mirror to shine light behind the appliance. My other hand held the jar lid.
The ringing intensified, and I swear I felt a breeze, as if something rushed past my face. The confines of the jar threw the ringing up at me, and I clapped the lid home. I could feel their vibrations through the glass and paper, growing softer as though relieved to find sanctuary in the darkness. Call it a grudge, cruelty or justice; I ripped free the paper and exposed the jar to the light of a floodlight.
It was hardly a rational act, and I immediately regretted it, even though a part of me relished the the thrill of revenge. The ringing grew, and the jar rattled against the floor. The lid bowed out, as though the jar contained spoiled, improperly preserved fruit. I feared the glass would break. Even a tiny crack might free them, for all I knew. I had no idea how large they were or how many angry things rattled the container. I threw a towel over the jar and turned off the lights. Immediately I thought of the metal box to protect the fragile jar and house these notes, so I fetched it from the bedroom closet. I decided to hide it away in the attic and check on it periodically. I don’t know what they are, but sealed away they will likely die, assuming their needs for air, water and food.
I followed the steps in the notebook as closely as possible. He never wrote what he discovered during his periodic examinations of the jar. Perhaps my worries were unjustified, but I wanted to be confident that I could be rid of the invisible threat for good. It might have been my imagination, always vivid and overactive, but I was sure I heard ringing in my ears. Why take a chance that my son would provoke it to attack him? How would I forgive myself if I could have prevented that?
There was no reason that the invisible threat should have been left in the house. I like to blame senility for the man’s neglected disposal of the jar and its contents. I didn’t intend to leave it in the attic, but I didn’t want to risk throwing it out and breaking the new jar I used for a trap.
Since I’d been meaning to straighten my leaning mailbox, I took care of two chores at once. The jar went back in the metal box, though I kept the notebook and its translation. I can’t say why I felt like keeping it. Maybe I want to keep sharing the adventure with the house’s former owner or just have a reminder that I wasn’t crazy. The ringing was real.
The box went into the hole, a little deeper now to accommodate it. Next I placed the post that held the mailbox and nestled some bricks around the base. I poured in the quick-setting cement and held the post upright. I even placed a level on top of the box to make sure I wouldn’t have to do it over again.
By the time the cement hardened and I finished moving furniture and appliances back to the kitchen, I was exhausted. The exercise and stress had sapped me of energy. Normally I might have enjoyed a movie with my frozen pizza. Instead I sat at the table and relished the absolute silence of the house. When my cat jumped up onto the tabletop, I let her stay.