I haven’t had a good night’s sleep since I moved from a busy subdivision to a semi-rural area. In spite of what you may have heard, there’s nothing tranquil about nighttime in the country.

When I moved here, I anticipated quiet nights of restful slumber, leaves rustling in the gentle breeze through an open window, and the mournful whistle of a distant train along the nearby river.

I was an idiot. The woods come alive at night. At times you would swear that the din approaches that of a front-row seat at a heavy metal concert. When you’re trying to sleep, that’s what it seems like.

It was hot and I didn’t have central air at the time; just an ill-fitting window unit, with cardboard filling the gaps.

Have you ever heard an owl hoot right outside your window In the middle of the night? There’s a good reason why the hoot of an owl is heard in every slasher film. It’s so spooky that your skin crawls and the hair on the back of your neck stands up. “Go hoot someplace else,” I shouted out the window, and heaved a shoe in its general direction.

Then the whippoorwill began its melodic call.

“Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will,” it called into the night.

Aw, isn’t that pretty?

“Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will.”

Ok, that’s enough, bird; it’s one a.m.

“Whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will, whip-poor-will.”

“Shut up already!” I shouted out the open window, pitching another shoe into the tree.

Ah, at last, peace and quiet. Uh-oh, what’s that? There’s something big walking around the house. I hear twigs breaking and leaves rustling. Maybe it’s just a deer. I should try to go back to sleep. But what if it isn’t a deer? What if it’s Bigfoot?

Now it’s in the garbage cans. Gee, I’d always hoped that I would become so famous that members of my fan club might lurk in the shrubs and rummage through my garbage cans in the middle of the night, searching for some scrap of my greatness to brighten their own dull and pathetic lives. Perhaps a moldy apple core that had once touched my lips or the clippings from my last pedicure. That’s what it must be! A rabid fan!

No, wait, I thought, peering out the window into the woods. It’s not a rabid fan. I think it’s a rabid raccoon.

“Git! Get out of here!” I shouted into the night, throwing another shoe at it. For good measure, I loaded my shotgun and fired a few rounds into the darkness. Blam! Blam! Blam!

I’d just drifted off to sleep when the field mice began their nightly bowling tournament inside the wall behind my headboard. I guess they might have been rolling acorns around, but I could have sworn I heard one of them pick up the seven-ten split, accompanied by the applause of its rodent teammates and the clicking of tiny beer bottles.

At three a.m. I discovered that it’s possible to be jolted from a sound sleep by an odor. The annual invasion of the skunks had begun. No single skunk could smell that bad. There must have been an entire battalion of them in formation, their tails raised in a synchronized salute, their rear ends aimed directly at my bedroom window. The odor was so intense that a foul cloud settled around the house like low-lying fog.

The only good thing about it was that the odor apparently caused the creepy owl and the noisy whippoorwill to flee the area. Either that or they dropped dead from the smell. At any rate, they finally shut up.

I would have reloaded the shotgun and taken a few shots at the skunks, but I was afraid if I hit one, it might release what little was left of its trademark scent. If only I’d had one of those cork-shooting guns I used to buy at the dime store when I was little. My aim was pretty good with those. Maybe I could have plugged up a few of the little pests. I had to settle for throwing a few more shoes.

I’d drifted into restless slumber when I was awakened by a rustling, flapping noise. I switched on the bedside lamp to discover a bat swooping and diving through the bedroom. It must have gotten into the room between the window air conditioner and the cardboard. I threw another shoe in its general direction and ran shrieking out the front door into the night, just as the police car arrived, its flashing lights illuminating the yard, and me in my nightgown.

The charges were discharging a firearm without a permit and disturbing the peace. They gave me an opportunity to get dressed before they took me in. Unfortunately, I did not seem to have any shoes left in the house.

I hoped they would put me in a padded cell. At least it would be quiet there. Maybe I could get some sleep.


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