The view from my window looks like Valley Forge. The street outside is covered in a layer of disgusting sludge that infiltrates even Kevlar-lined boots and that defeats even the best of snow plows. Classes suck because I have to go outside to get to them. Parties suck for the same reason. Only Jojo’s honey lemon ginger tea or Rudy’s frites with curry-ketchup are truly worth the half-block venture. I have become a hermit. I sit on my couch all day and click “get mail” over and over again to feel connected to the outside world.
But when I am at my lowest, when it’s been 12 whole minutes since the last junk e-mail appeared in my inbox, when I can’t listen to “I am a Rock” even one more time, I hear the thump, thump, ka-bump in my walls, and I remember that I am never alone. Never.
No, I do not mean God. God does not go thump, thump, ka-bump in the walls of 65 Edgewood. At least he didn’t last time I went to church. And I do not mean the neighbors because this thump, thump, ka-bump is entirely inhuman. I mean The Beast.
We noticed its presence early on. As soon as the weather turned cool, when we would get up early in the morning to write a paper, we would hear the sounds. We would come home late at night, a little drunk after a party, and stretch out on our beds, and we would hear the sounds. We would bring someone over, and in the middle of laughing or talking or playing Scrabble, they would stop and say “wait … shhh … ” and we would know then that they, too, heard the sounds.
Those with practical minds (or timid imaginations) declare that we have mice. We do not have mice. Mice are for grandmas. Mice go scurry, scurry, squeak, not thump, thump, ka-bump. Mice come out of tiny holes while you are asleep to eat your crumbs. The Beast could not fit through a tiny hole, and comes out while you are asleep to eat you.
As we have a large tree next to the house, those with deductive minds suggest that we have squirrels. We do not have squirrels. Squirrels are cute and light.
Squirrels go scamper, scamper, twitter, not thump, thump, ka-bump. Squirrels like trees and sunshine, and are diurnal. The Beast likes dark labyrinths and is most active at night.
Those with superstitious minds propose that The Beast is Casper the Friendly Ghost. The Beast is not Casper the Friendly Ghost. Casper comes through walls and makes breakfast and goes to dances with girls. The Beast better not come through walls, and we go to dances alone, Mr. Beast.
What is The Beast???
Not a mouse, not a squirrel, not a friendly ghost …
You know that scene in “The Princess Bride” just after the quicksand pit? The one in which Wesley wrestles 6-foot-long, rat-like things that live in the Forest of Exploding Fire Pits? My bets are that The Beast is one of those. A baby one. Those would go thump, thump, ka-bump. Maybe. Or The Beast is a mystical three-headed oracle waiting to be let out of the Wall of Wonders.
Maybe we should have a party for The Beast. A “Lure Out The Beast” party. We could serve raw meats and play “Beast of Burden” and make hissing noises. But would anyone come? Probably not. After all, there’s the snow. I guess for now it’s just me and The Beast. If I’m not seen in a few days … wait … shhh … I hear … thump, thump, ka-bump … it’s coming to get me.