Squiggy the cat thinks I'm too stupid to live. She may have a point.
Static fills the phone line just as my brother and I begin discussing the design for a mural soon to be created for Artisanne's Art Gallery at chez moi.
"Hello? Hello?" I move away from the living room window. Sometimes the phone doesn't appreciate getting too close to the glass.
Gzzzzrt. Shkkkkssst. Gzzzzrt. The obnoxious noise continues.
What the heck? Has the phone company cut me off?
The two water wheel filters in the 55-gallon fish tank aren't spinning. Seven little orange and black faces peer at me in consternation.
Sucking noises emanating from the tank harmonize with beeping, zinging and whirring coming from the computer, printer and scanner. The electronic symphony is counterbalanced by sudden silence from the television. And creeping darkness from the setting sun.
Lights are on across the highway. And the river. Hmm. Did I forget to pay the electric bill? Again?
The cat rolls her green eyes and follows me into the guest bedroom. The old-school, wall-mounted phone is ringing. My brother wants to know why I hung up on him.
"Power outage," I say. "Gotta go. It's getting dark. I'm never prepared for these things."
Grabbing my shake-and-glow flashlight, I head over to my neighbor's to see what's up. She's lost power, too. So have other neighbors. It's official.
We get a lot of power outages in my neck of the woods. Some last only minutes. Other go on for hours. Or longer.
I am still recovering from the Dreaded Gungybungus. The newsroom's plague is a real hanger-on, and an early bedtime holds a certain allure.
"This is a blessing in disguise," I tell myself.
Attempting to turn off everything noisy or bright that could come back on once the juice returns, I get in my jammies, brush my teeth, grab my cell phone and head for bed.
Little do I know that while I've finally caught a clue, the moron factor will continue to escalate. But, somehow, Squiggy knows. The cat shadows me from room to room.
After making a few quick calls, I grab my novel. Ten pages later my eyes are crossing. Time to blow out the bedside candle.
Fade to zzzz. Then bolt awake. Computers are beeping. Tanks are bubbling. And bright, bright lights are on — inside and out. Power is baaaaack.
I manage to ignore the cacophony of sounds and slip back to sleep. Until Squiggy parades up and down my spine. "Meeep!" Translation: Security lights are activated. Someone is coughing outside the bedroom window. Could be a consumptive burglar.
"I don't care. Get off me," I grumble.
Blessed sleep returns. Until the beeping does, too. This time it's three high-pitched, rapid-fire blasts, jolting me from my slumbers like a techno reveille. What? Who? Where?
Silence. Aaah. Then "Beep. Beep. Beep."
Again? My eyes fly open. Squiggy is staring into them. The ring-tailed Princess is peeved.
"Fix it," she says. "I need my beauty rest, too."
The snooze-busting sounds seem to be coming from the basement. Grabbing my robe, I head out into the night. Cussing. It's 2 a.m. And I'm just cranky enough to hope there is some hacking marauder lurking outside upon whom I can vent my wrath — and residual germs.
"Show him what a real cough sounds like. Hack up a lung," Squiggy agrees.
Flipping on the basement lights, I check the washer/dryer, water heater and the circuit panel. Nothing seems amiss.
Back inside, her Highness follows me into the kitchen for a mackerel snack. Hers. I don't do fish after midnight. Back in bed, Squiggy delivers a gentle burp while kneading my chest. Pushing her off, I turn out the lights and pull the pillow over my head.
Beep. Beep. Beep.
It's coming from the room. On goes the light. Wild-eyed, I notice a little flashing red light to my right. It's my cell phone. Low battery, it reads.
"You are as dumb as a dog," Squiggy says. "If only I had an opposable thumb."
Reach reporter Sanne Specht at 541-776-4497 or e-mail firstname.lastname@example.org.