I lie awake in bed, desperately seeking sleep. What was that sound from the basement? Was it the furnace starting up, or was it just the wind? There it is again. Or is it something more sinister? I suddenly panic – are there burglars in the basement?
I look at the burglar alarm indicator. It blinks back peacefully. Not that it means anything, the burglars might have deactivated it. Trust the burglar alarm to fail the one time you really need it.
I sit up and try to wake him up. “There is someone in the basement”, I say. He makes incoherent noises and tries to turn over. I shake him again, speaking urgently and loudly. He finally opens his eyes and looks at me questioningly.
“There is someone in the basement,” I say, “I can hear some sounds”.
“There is no one there, you are imagining things”, he says. He turns over and promptly falls asleep.
I shake him again, and I try again to turn him around, but my shoulders have started aching by now. My urgent whispers have long ago given way to old fashioned yelling. The burglars have surely heard me by now. Why, the whole neighborhood must have. Any moment now, they will be climbing up the stairs. The burglars, that is, not the neighborhood. And here he is, still sleeping soundly.
Maybe there is no one. But then there are those sounds. Shouldn’t he be investigating? Isn’t that somehow a man’s job? In all the stories I had read, it was always the Man of the House who confronted the burglars, coming down the stairs in a checked robe, with a pipe in one hand and a shotgun in the other. Yes, yes, in this case, he did not have a checked robe, a pipe or a shotgun, but could he not go down without these?
I wonder what promises men make when they marry. Women are supposed to love and honor and whatnot, right? Or however they say that in Sanskrit. What are men supposed to do? Surely there a line somewhere saying “he will investigate burglars in basements”. There must surely be one, I reason, this seems such an important thing to do. I should have paid more attention during the wedding. I should not have kept craning my neck trying to see if all my friends had arrived.
Now I will have to go down the stairs, or I will never be able to sleep. I climb down slowly, muttering about pre-nups and burglar alarms and sleepy men. I hope if I stomp my foot on each stair, the burglars will think a muscular, heavyset guy is climbing down. Maybe that will make them flee. Maybe.
I turn on every light in the house. I reach the basement, and look around. There is no one. Maybe they ran away at all that yelling. I check the doors and windows. They are all locked.
So there were never any burglars then. I am relieved, but am I also slightly disappointed? I turn off all the lights, and climb up slowly, feeling rather sheepish. He is going to laugh at me, I think. He is going to say, “I told you so”.
Then I think, what if there were really burglars? How could he have let me gone down alone? It’s all his fault.
I reach the bedroom. He is fast asleep, the blanket pulled over his head. Somehow, this makes me even more angry. He has slept through the whole thing! I angrily turn off the lights and finally, I fall asleep.
Next morning, he asks me why I look so tired. I reply that I could not sleep because of the sounds in the basement.
He looks at me, puzzled. Clearly, he has no idea what I am talking about.
I look into my tea cup and think, maybe I should get a dog. Not one of those fierce guard dogs, just a small dog. The kind that barks nonstop at every little sound. That will definitely wake him up next time there are noises in the basement.