Moths

THURSDAY, JULY 12, 2012

Moths

Or “Möths” if you are feeling your inner Inspector Clouseau.We’ve had a small but persistent infestation of carpet moths. Annoying, little things, although it did bring to mind “The Seven Year Itch,” so I watched that again.The night before last I kind of partially rumbled into a waking state, having heard what vaguely sounded like a cat rummaging on the way-too-cluttered desk behind the bed. My own curiosity wasn’t enough to make me get up, so I rolled over and squeezed my eyes back into sleep. In the morning, which might have been anywhere between two minutes and five hours later, I woke up and swung my legs over the bed to stand up, only to find a fuzzy critter crouched there. Even in the still-dark, I knew it was the cat. I didn’t step on him, but both of us would have yelp!ed, if he could have and if I had a voice at that point.

I was sure the surprise would have caused him to run away, but it didn’t: he stayed, intent and crouching, fixated towards the back of the bedroom on … something. I sat for a moment a little perplexed and then realized he was probably stalking something and the recollection of that night noise I had heard earlier came back to me. I figured it was probably a fly that got in during the night and he was chasing it. The terrace door was open and even though it was screened, the wind often blows the screen open so any fly could have gotten in.

Then again last night the same kind of noise woke me. Thinking it was odd that another fly might have gotten in, I started to wonder what exactly the fuzzy critter was after, and if it was the same thing as the night before. As it usually goes in the middle of the night, the smallness of the hour inversely magnified the intenseness of my quandary, and suddenly I was awash in goosebumps.

Was it a fly after all? Was it a different insect? A bird? A bat? A vulture? A condor?? A flying boa constrictor?? (Too many “Animal Planets” were orbiting in my head by now, and I was rapidly spiraling into despair.)

I did remember a like “incident” with Tuxedo, Ketzl’s predecessor. I had awakened that time sure that Tux had cornered a mouse or rat and was worrying it the way cats big and small do, before offing them. A similar swell of goosebumps then, and when my eyes had adjusted I realized it was just the plastic ring from the cap of a gallon water jug that I had tossed to her that day, that she liked to “chase around.”

I hoped feebly that this would be another false alarm with Ketzl. The goosebumps promised only to worsen, so I got up and threw on every light I could reach without having to step too far on the dark carpet. After a few minutes, when I realized I couldn’t find the cat or the source of his activity, what I also realized was that I had to pee. (Shivering, whether from cold or goosebumps, can make that happen.)

I padded into the dark hallway only to find my foot nearly wallop the cat, who by now was there, staring at what looked like nothing at all on the floor by the linen closet. Squinting as closely as I could to see what was there and seeing nothing, I did my bidness in the batroom and started back to bed. Drat that cat, he was in the same place and position as before, staring at — nothing?

I put on the hall light to prove to him — and myself — that he was wasting his time, and as I leaned down to tell him so, I spied the largest, most evil-looking moth I’ve ever seen (remember, it was the wee hours and I had been rudely awakened) parked motionless in the corner of the wall between the bathroom and the linen closet. I’m talking B-52. It was a half-inch from my face and it was staring defiantly at me; it was looking right at me! (I think it was growling, too.)

Damn goosebumps nearly jumped off my skin this time. (Again: it was very early; or very late, however you look at it.)

“Ketzl! He’s up here!” Nothing; dumb cat kept looking at the floor where this thing had once been. “Ketzl! Ketzl! Pssssssst!” <rap, rap=””> on the wall above the moth. “Look! Here it is!”

(? I, a man, am hoping that he, a cat, will disperse this critter ?)

Okay, okay; what’s the trick I use to get him to stretch up the wall… Oh yeah: scratch it vigorously. I do that, and finally he looks up and sees his elusive quarry, paws it and they’re off again. But he’s only playing with it. (I’m thinking it tastes bad enough that he doesn’t want to eat it, but it’s too much fun not to play with.)

A closer look as it flutters around the hall floor being pawed every so often shows that its gut has been kinda damaged (that tentative bite, perhaps, that proved it inedible?) but it’s still very active, although seemingly unable to fly any more, which is why it’s just fluttering around on the floor, accepting with resolute indignity the by-now half-hearted pawing it’s getting every so often.

Even with the damage, it looks like a behemoth momma-to-be-moth and I don’t want this thing going back into the bedroom or into the living room and engaging in parturition, so I close those doors, leaving the bathroom door open. I’m figuring it’s going to end up — soon, I hope — in the wastebasket in there anyway.

Well, the half-hearted pawing goes on for five minutes or so: cat and moth meandering into the bathroom, behind that door and out again, back into the hallway with Momma Moth trying to get under the other doors for safety and escape. She’s unable to do so, maybe because of her big belly, I don’t know. I’m beginning to lose interest; Ketzl, it seems, has already lost interest, when I suddenly realize Momma is heading under the linen closet door… Oops! A big enough gap there and she’s gone, into the closet, dear.

F*ck! Quickly I open the door, but she’s already out of sight, and the cat is clueless. Seven, maybe eight minutes I stand there trying to figure “what now” (if you had seen the condition of the stuff on that closet floor you’d understand), eventually realizing I’m going to have to take everyf*ckingthing out, find her and do her in myself, otherwise she’ll just reemerge some time later and go into labor. Or worse go into labor in the closet and with all that towelage and sheetage, her kids would have a ball feasting on my linen and grow up to be big strong moths.

Methodically, systematically I remove everything from the floor, bit by bit, placing all of it in the bathroom, and find her at last (in the last place I look, naturally: under the stupid computer monitor that’s still in there for no reason whatsoever, as it will never be used again in this household.)

I cross myself like a good Catholic (as IF) and WAP! do her in (and her unborn fetuses), may god have mercy. And may these damn FREAKIN’ goosebumps go away at last, finally, please and thank you.

Nothing goes back into the closet the way it came out, but either god or the devil was watching and I managed to get everything back in. (Yes, the stupid computer monitor is still there.)

So, tonight, fingers and toes crossed, I’ll go to sleep and hope I don’t wake up to anything similar, like the daft cat chasing after any of the deceased’s siblings (if, in fact, she had been born in the bedroom to begin with.) I’m tending to doubt it, since she was so much bigger than these silly little carpet things that show up from time to time that essentially disappear into powder if you but brush them with your hand. Somehow, though I can’t deny there is probably a connection. And I can’t help but wonder if moths can get revenge…

I will, however, be sure to turn the air conditioner on high an hour before bedtime, so that the room will be cold, really cold, cold enough that I can at least pretend that the goosebumps I’ll have are a factor of the A/C, and not of the abject fear in which I’m living now.

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