“I insist that there is nothing sacred in the life of an invader, and there is no valid principle of human society that forbids the invaded from protecting themselves in whatever way they …
“They’re invading! It’s an invasion! And I don’t know how they’re getting in!”
The quote is a loose translation — I wasn’t taking careful notes — but it’s the gist of the caller’s recent message.
And she wasn’t talking about America's southern border.
At issue in the lighthearted telephone call the other day — a surprisingly welcomed one that put the skids on an altogether bad morning … missed deadlines, late-breaking stories, too much to do and too few people to do it; all the regulars of a busy newsroom — was one I have written about twice before since late January.
Yes, them. Yes, yuck. To quote from my own column — egotistical, I know — published in the Sunday edition dated Feb. 23, “… one of those itty-bitty, creepy, slimy, slow-moving, mucus machines.”
Reportedly, they have migrated into the Blue Springs community. Obviously, they’ve been there all along. But now, they’re far more brazen.
The warning, aptly sounded by a nice lady who runs a small business there — at least, I “think” that’s what she told me; remember, she had been traumatized earlier in the day — reminded me of the history book accounts of the midnight ride of Paul Revere.
While the heroic silversmith — a patriot from the American Revolution — rode to warn the colonial militia of the approach of British forces, this alarmed businesswoman trumpeted the arrival of a new nemesis.
Because this column had already touched on similar incidents involving two other Bradley Countians — one of whom was my bride of more than four decades — the Blue Springs lass chose to recount her own frightening encounter.
A word of warning: It’s even creepier.
Here’s the imprecise account of our conversation. It’s not exactly how she said it; then again, it’s probably not exactly how I heard it. If this were a movie, I would preface it with “… inspired by true events.”
“We’re being invaded!” she shrieked, after receiving my standard telephone greeting, though probably more gruff than normal.
“Invaded?” I asked.
“Yes! Now I know what your wife went through! I don’t blame her for having a fear of those things!”
For some quick background for those who missed the Jan. 26 column, a few months ago a slimy, filthy, nasty, vile, loathsome, odious, repugnant, foul, nauseating, godawful … slug … shape-shifted its way into our kitchen. While it slowly sojourned across the hardwood floor in the unlit room — like a walk in the park, I suppose — my wife’s bare foot found it. Bedlam erupted. Chaos reigned. Woman screeched. Man rushed in. Slug cringed from the sight and sounds of human terror.
To lend credibility to her story, and her character, the businesswoman assured me she was sane. She even advertises in our newspaper so she urged me to talk with the sales rep who handles her account for further validation. Not to worry, I assured her. She had me at “… slug.”
“In the shower this morning I reached for the bottle of hair conditioner, and there it was!” she continued.
Uh-oh. I hadn’t heard a good shower story since “Psycho.”
“A slug!” she trumpeted. “On the bottle! Now how in the world did it get in the bathroom? And in the shower? We checked all the windows. No cracks. No doors were open. To get in there, it would have had to cross over a room full of carpet!”
“Little devils can get anywhere, do anything,” I agreed. “Truly, they are the scourge of Creation as we know it.”
“But I have a theory,” she continued, ignoring the commentary. The lady was on a roll.
“I’m all ears,” I stressed.
“I think they’re coming up through the drains!” this midnight rider of the 21st century declared.
“Whoa!” I gasped. Whether I really said “whoa” I don't recall, but it’s a good fit for this telling.
“Everybody’s got drains!” I added. “Me, too!”
She went on to explain how she removed the slug. Taking the plastic bottle — with sleeping beastie still attached — outside the house, she laid a hefty dose of Morton salt to it, bottle and all, I suppose. The bottle of conditioner probably lived. I can’t speak for the slug.
Although I bear no ill will toward these misunderstood little slime machines, I do recognize there is a time and a place for everything. A kitchen floor, nor a businesswoman’s shower, are no places for such visitors. I do not invade their homes by burrowing holes into the ground. I would expect the same courtesy.
By conversation’s end, I was laughing loudly. Some might even call it a mild roar. Whether the newsroom staff outside my office could hear the howls, I cannot say. They’re not exposed to such guffaws regularly.
Even the messenger on the other end of the line was snickering.
“You’ve made my day!” I told her. “This whole morning has been like a lump of coal at Christmas. I needed this.”
“Well, I’m glad I could brighten your day,” she chuckled. “But I’ve just got to tell you, the first thing I thought of when I saw that slug was your wife!”
Making a mental note, I would remember — in any retelling of the lady’s story — to assure Love Muffin she was not being compared to a slug.
Whether the translucent invaders are finding their way into people spaces through cracks under the doors, broken windows or unguarded drains, their arrival comes with warning.
If it can happen in Blue Springs, it can happen in any quiet little community … like the one near you.
(About the writer: Rick Norton is an associate editor at the Cleveland Daily Banner. Email him at firstname.lastname@example.org.)
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