“Do you hear that?”
My husband and I are standing in the living room of our new apartment. A very strange dragging noise is coming from the roof.
“Yeah…” he says, looking up and then at me. “I’ve heard it a few times.”
“Do you think it’s a person?” I ask.
“Do you think it’s a person dragging another person?”
He gives me a look that suggests my imagination must be put in check.
Last fall, Ryan and I were informed that our building was being torn down and that we’d need to find a new apartment by January 1st. (A word to the wise: as you can imagine, the holiday season is a very cold, busy, and overall disagreeable time to move in New York City.)
So we alerted our community to the impending disaster, searched on every apartment-hunting website available, and landed in a one-bedroom on the cusp of Gowanus and Park Slope about a week later. It “took a village” but we’ve happily settled into our new home.
Except for the occasional mouse.
And the dragging sounds across the roof.
Now, I’ve met several mice during my New York experience. I despise that they perpetually raise little families in my often unused stove—and I despise killing them with traps that instantly squish their insides into a maroon sadness that has me mumbling “out, damned spot” as I Swiffer their leftovers into the garbage.
(Editor’s Note: The cleaning of the traps is now Ryan’s job. A round of applause for him, please.)
In short, mice are a vice that I know much about. But the dragging? This has me concerned.
I am alone one Saturday morning when the footsteps and dragging sounds loudly begin in the front of the apartment. We live in a Brooklyn row house built in the 1890s. Like most city streets in our neighborhood, our roof is connected with everyone else’s roofs on the block. Though rare, this means it is possible a good number of strangers could be walking around up there.
This thought pops into my head as the footsteps approach me.
The mysterious sounds move from the living room, to the dining room, and finally to my bedroom where I sit staring at the ceiling.
Tap, tap, jingle, scraaaatch.
I open my mouth in horror as the mysterious presence claws at my light fixture from somewhere above the ceiling.
“Stop that!” I say to the unknown.
I grab a hanger and tap back on the ceiling.
Bam, bam, bam.
“Stop that! Don’t touch!”
The mysterious scratcher remained silent.
Ryan and I had thought maybe we were hearing mice in the ceiling—or perhaps a troop of fat squirrels? But after several weekends of this nonsense, I didn’t believe my own theories. This was no small critter.
My eyes blink open at 5 am. I’m thirsty, so I creep out of bed and tiptoe to the kitchen sink.
As I pour a glass of water, I look out the window into the blackness of the night. Nearly every light is off as I scan the row of dark apartments and…
I quietly scream as a pair of eyes blink at me. I drop the glass of water, cover up my bare chest with my arms, and take a step back.
I can’t believe it:
There is a person on my fire escape!
And they are LOOKING in my window!
AND I’M NAKED.
But then… I am also a curious creature. So, I step forward, hold my breath, and peer out the window once again.
There, blinking its eyes and moving its weird little fingers, is a fat, fluffy raccoon.
“Oh my gosh!” I whisper-yell at him, pointing my finger in scorn. “You’re what’s been on my roof. Stop playing with light fixtures!”
I swear on my life, that raccoon then smiled at me. And I couldn’t get over his hands: They were placed near his mouth where he was tapping his fingers together, like he was pondering the ending of a classic piece of literature. Or, like he was plotting my demise?
Alas, after about 20 seconds the raccoon grew tired of me. I laughed as his bushy butt pranced up the fire escape’s narrow stairs to his “loft.”
The next day I told Ryan about my encounter and decided to name the critter Kiku, after my favorite take-out sushi place. Upon meeting my upstairs neighbor, I also found the dragging to be more endearing—in fact, Kiku hasn’t played with light fixtures in weeks!
My only concern? I did hear on the local news that a feisty raccoon was captured and euthanized in my neighborhood a couple of days ago. The drama occurred only a few blocks from where I live.
I don’t think it was old Kiku—Brooklyn has its fair share of raccoons. But, now, I sit here in this apartment and wait for his scratches.
Oh, how the tables have turned.
Here’s a quick look at the new apartment, per my mother’s request. We’re not done—but it's definitely beginning to feel like home.