What’s So Scary about Those Noises in the House?

You know that feeling after you’ve watched a horror movie and your ears are attuned to every little noise in the house? We puzzled over the source of a loud intermittent buzzing that came from the attic until we settled on this: Two summers ago, just after roofers finished, we noticed some men outside staring up at our roof. Turns out they’d been beckoned by a transponder that must have been buried in our roof. One of them handed over his ICE card. He theorized that someone under house-arrest had cut off his transponder and asked a roofer friend to hide it. “It’s like what sex offenders wear,” the ICE man said, probably trying to freak us out. And added, “It costs $2000,” stressing the seriousness of this situation.

It was a hot July — if the escapee were in the attic, he’d have already melted.

We get used to noises our houses make. Some people even find them comforting. The furnace and fridge. The plumbing. Dehumidifiers, humidifiers, air purifiers, fans. Washer and dryer. Electric clocks. Lightbulbs clicking. Something falling. The settling, the creaky floorboards. We know them.

But what about those clicks coming from a chair or that rustling in the front hall? Usually not worth noticing.

Unless two birds somehow got into the house and you shooed one of them out but didn’t see what happened to the other. Was it still inside, stuck and fluttering? Birds are quiet -– it could be sneaking up from behind. It could’ve bumped its head and be dragging across the floor. Or it could be preparing to launch itself into my head.

Which is what happened last week. At the time, my ears were attuned to house noises I couldn’t identify. Yep, the damn thing came flying out of wherever! I screamed, of course, and propped open the door to the patio which it soon exited. And I knew I’d relive childhood nightmares of “Return of the Fly.”

The birds must’ve squeezed through the mail slot when I’d propped it open for fresh air. I’d opened that rather than the patio door because in July, a chipmunk got in, probably through the patio door I’d propped open to get a breeze.

I didn’t want to repeat that episode

We bought a Hav-a-Hart trap. The only one available let you choose between one- and two-sided, accompanied by unintelligible directions. We felt like Larry David struggling to open a hermetically sealed package.

An outdoor chipmunk sat watching through the glass patio door whose wood frame the indoor chipmunk chewed all night, hoping to tunnel through.

The next day we opened the open door and tried to usher the chipmunk out, but he hid. It’s an open floor plan, with just one door – to the closet— with a gap at the bottom he could scurry underneath and hide.

I hatched a tactical plan that would’ve tickled Dad, a WWII Logistical command. colonel. He’d rid his attic of squirrels by weaponizing loud dissonant music. Older squirrels fled but younger ones dug it. Riffing on the loud noise plan, we fired up Roomba while I pushed the upright vacuum cleaner and Steve ran around poking a broom underneath the sofa until we finally channeled the chipmunk out the door.  

Afterward, Steve went to play first-person shooter games to relax. I went to the pool.

Next day when I went onto the patio, the chipmunk saw my face and scurried away so fast he fell while scrambling up a stone wall.

I guess he’s afraid of the noises inside our house.