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Bill Kirby Jr.: A creepy crawler in the early-morning dark can play tricks with your mind

So, what’s up there roaming around in the attic? A raccoon? A squirrel? A mouse? Or the ghost of my ugly Aunt Ethel. Call me Columbo. Like a dog with a bone, I’m on the case.


Figuratively writing, I smell a rat.

I don’t actually smell this rodent, but I can hear him or her up there in my attic, and he or she has been doing plenty of rummaging around early in the mornings.

My initial fear was a raccoon was up there. There are raccoons in the neighborhood, and I’ve caught one raccoon in the middle of the mornings climbing on my birdfeeder hanging by the front porch. There’s no birdseed in the feeder, so the raccoon is out of luck. You’ll see an opossum roaming around the neighborhood on occasion, too. And there are plenty of squirrels in the neighborhood.

Yep, we have our share of critters.

But my first thought was a raccoon up there in the attic.

“Not likely a raccoon this time of year,” the fellow with the North Carolina Wildlife Resources Commission Wildlife Management Division in Raleigh was telling me Thursday. “They usually nest in the spring.”

Nevertheless, I called my pest control folks.

“We don’t remove wildlife per se,” they said. “But we will send someone out to see if you have a raccoon in your attic.”

Patrick Brisco came Thursday and headed toward the attic. He’s somewhere in his 20s, about 6-foot-2, personable and fearless.

“If it was a raccoon,” he said, “he probably would have popped up his head. I didn’t see any eyes reflecting up there.”

No opossum or squirrel, either.

“But I do see some mouse droppings,” he said, “and it could be a mouse. Or a rat. A rat can get pretty big.”

I’ve dealt with a mouse. Some of you may remember about 10 years ago when I told you about the mouse I discovered — the mouse that had a hankering for those Harris Teeter cornbread muffins. He was a cunning sort of fellow, and sneaky. But no match for that Tom Cat mouse trap that finally ended his assault on my cornbread muffins.

Not too long after Stuart Little’s demise, an older lady turned down my request to interview her during Election Day voting over at Glendale Acres Elementary School.

“I’m not talking to you,” she said tersely. “You killed that sweet little mouse.”

‘Catch me, big shot, if you can’

Strange, it is, the psychological exchange that unfolds when you are chasing a predator.

“Whoever you are up there in the attic, I’m coming after you!” I’m hollering at this critter having a field day about 4:30 a.m. Thursday. 

It’s when the mind games begin.

“Well, come on up, big shot,” you can almost hear the critter daring you back. “Karma is hell. Remember my late uncle you and your Tom Cat mouse trap ambushed back in the day over your cornbread muffins? Payback, Mr. Big Shot, is hell. Besides, you’re an old dude, Gramps, and don’t have the spring in your steps like you did when you were chasing around my uncle over those precious cornbread muffins. And I’m young. Catch me, if you can.”

So help me, these critters in the early morning can play games with you.

“Look, you little juvenile delinquent,” I’m hollering back. “You’ve got no business up there in my attic at this time of the morning. Or anytime.”

Yada, yada, yada, I thought I could hear him say.

“Take it up with my ACLU friends,” I thought I heard him say. “I’ve got my constitutional rights.”

OK, I made that up for comedic purposes, but you’re getting the drift here.

The critter pursuit is on. Call me Columbo. I’m not stopping until this varmint is in the custody of this black RTU box my pest control guy left in the attic.

“It has a gel that lures him to the box,” my pest control guy said.

He may be a young whippersnapper of a rat with a grudge over that cornbread muffin demise of years back, but I’ve put this visitor to my attic on notice. I’m the oldest rat in this barn I call home, and you mess with me, and you’ll find out.


All was quiet in the attic Friday morning, although I did hear him on the move around 6:30. Not a lot of scratching, however. He seemed to be moving at quite the slower pace. Not so frisky like Thursday morning and Wednesday morning and the morning before.

He may already have taken the bait.

Creepy crawlers in the dark of night and early morning, believe me, can play tricks with your mind. What if it’s my late ugly Aunt Ethel up in the attic scurrying around and coming back to haunt me for writing all those stories about how Aunt Ethel was the ugliest woman Moore County ever saw, and the ugliest woman I ever laid eyes on back when I was kid.

OMG … heaven forbid.

After all, it is October, and Halloween is near.

I’m on the case. Stayed tuned. I’ll keep you posted. If it’s ugly Aunt Ethel up in the attic, I’m calling Ghostbusters.

Bill Kirby Jr. can be reached at billkirby49@gmail.com or 910-624-1961.

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Fayetteville, rats, pest control