This story is for my friend, Julia Barrett, just because she asked so nicely...
When I was five we lived in Pima, Arizona. At that time it was what I call a 'blinking light' town. On the highway of life, Pima had a blinking light to signify it's one cross road. Of course, in Arizona at that time, blinking light towns were quite common. They were usually a small huddle of one-and-two bedroom houses, a gas station, and possibly a tiny general store. Pima also had a post office and a couple other businesses.
We lived in three different houses in Pima. I suspect it was a matter of moving up each time we moved, but that wouldn't have been too hard because prior to that we lived in surplus military housing in Mesa.
I have flickering memories about each house. In one house, I remember helping my mother do laundry out on the patio in our wringer washer. In another, I remember going to the post office next door to get our mail. And in the third...well, the third was the house where we lived on the night the mountain lion came to visit.
I mentioned we lived in Arizona, right? This was fifty-five years ago. There was no air conditioning. It was summer, so the windows were all open and a small fan was running in the kitchen where my mother was sewing while my dad worked at the tiny all night gas station in town. It was the last gas station for many miles. Mama was pregnant with my baby brother. My two younger brothers and I were asleep.
Outside, Rover, our dog started barking frantically. Mama turned on the porch lights, trying to see what was aggravating him. All she could make out was a large shadowy animal-shaped figure. Rover was howling and whimpering and then she could tell Rover was under the house in the crawl space.
Mama went from window to window in the tiny house peering out in the darkness. As she was looking out the bedroom window, a giant paw scored the old screen. With great presence of mind, she slammed the window down and then ran through the house, closing all the windows and doors.
She called my father, demanding that he come home at once. In the way that men react to such things, he told her she must be imagining things. The calls went back and forth for a while until Dad locked up for the night and came home. Mama was packing in the stifling kitchen, terrified and angry when Dad arrived.
Rover was still under the house and refused to come out.
And the next DAY we moved to an entirely different town.
So what was trying to get into the house that night? The sheriff came out at dawn and walked around the yard with Dad. They found extraordinary big cat paw prints. Our house was at the edge of town and the paw prints led off into the wilderness.
Daddy had to crawl into the crawl space to drag Rover out from under the house. He was crouched all the way in the corner as far as he could go from where he entered.
We never knew exactly what species of cat came to our house that night. But for sure, there are things that really do go bump in the night.