I thought I'd encountered every possible distraction from writing already. I mean I am high-level when it comes to making excuses to do something other than write. Sure, there are the old stand-bys, like suddenly remembering I have to email a few friends, or the bathtub soap holder needs immediate attention. Or somebody should finish off that bag of Easter candy I bought last week before it goes bad, and since I'm the only one here, well ...
All those are pitiful next to the current excuse. Actually, it's more like a semi-crisis. Right now, as I type, I add one more distraction to my repertoire and ponder its truth: It's mighty hard to concentrate when there's a turtle in your basement.
No, it is not a pet. No, it's not the size of those little-bitty painted ones like we used to get at the fair. Not even a small- to medium-sized one you pick up off the road and set in the grass so it won't get run over. This thing is huge. I'm talking Turtzilla Eats Nashville huge. A large wild, unknown, alien turtle is roaming around in my basement, uninvited, when my husband is not here to take care of it.
Maybe the turtle thought he was invited. I did have the outside basement door propped open. My two cats like to go out for fresh air, eat a little grass and then come in and hurl it on the living room floor. Come to think of it, that turtle is making my stomach feel kinda jittery. Anyway, technically it's my fault for leaving the door open. Now that I think about it, maybe I should go open it wider so he'll be sure and know how to get out. Hang on.
Okay, I went out the front door (darn right I'm not going back down there), around the house, and pushed the door all the way open. I could see him in there next to the cat litter pans. I ran around to the front, came inside again and went straight to the kitchen door to the basement steps. I'd say there are about twenty steps. There's no way he can climb them all and get in the kitchen. Especially since I locked the door. Just in case.
Surely the extra sunlight and the sound of the creek gurgling in the backyard will entice him out. Oh, dear. I just had a terrible thought. Sometimes when I hear running water, I have to go to the bathroom. And he was right by that cat litter. Hang on.
I'm back. I unlocked the door and yelled down the steps, "Don't you DARE pee in my basement!" I doubt it will help but I feel better. Wait. I think I hear my husband's truck coming up the driveway. Let me go warn him.
Ha. I should've known. I bet none of the married ladies reading this need a crystal ball to know how our conversation went. Something like this:
"Hey, babe. There's a big honking turtle in the basement, so watch out."
He laughed and gave me the eye. You know how they do. "Why didn't you pick it up and carry it out?"
"And get my fingers bit off?"
"They can't hurt you." More laughing.
It was at this point I knew the end of the story. It's the same ending, handed down through generations, when the wife tells her husband something is so, but the husband finds no such evidence.
"Honey, I didn't see a turtle. Maybe it was that old World War II helmet I got at the flea market, and the cats were playing with it, and you just thought it was .... "
"It was a turtle."
"You saw it move?"
"No, but ...."
"Were the lights on or was it dark?"
"Dark, but ..."
Oh, yeah. He thinks I'm nuts. Whatever. He'll come around when that World War II helmet chomps down on the toe of his shoe one day.
Until I have that peculiarly satisfying distraction to add to my list, I guess I'll get back to my desk and do some work. Don't worry. Every night when I'm done, I'll check the door to the basement and make sure it's locked until I know Turtzilla has gone back into the wild.
Mary's latest book, THISTLE & TWIGG, has been nominated for the 2008 SIBA Book Award for Fiction. She currently serves on the national board of Sisters In Crime and is vice-president of the Southeast chapter of Mystery Writers of America.