How I Survived “__?__NADO”

by Coco Ihle

“What IS that?” I said out loud, as a flicker of movement outside my office window caught my eye. Something was moving in the middle of my backyard. The grass hadn’t been mowed for almost a week and it had grown a lot since torrential rains had been pummeling the neighborhood for most of that time.

My desk is against the window and I stood leaning over toward the glass, to get a closer look. I could see something black, but the grass was too high to make out what it was. Since I live in a nature preserve, I’ve learned to expect all sorts of wildlife during the years I’ve lived in this area of Florida, but this was a real puzzle. It wasn’t big enough or the right color to be an armadillo or possum or any of the larger animals I’ve seen. It moved again. Maybe it was an injured bird.

My vantage point was too low and the bottom half of the window was screened, which made visibility difficult, so I decided my step ladder might help. I set it up alongside my desk, got up on the third step with one foot, straddled the desk and placed my other foot over on the window sill so I could look down on whatever it was. I still couldn’t see well enough. I got down, went into my living room and grabbed my opera glasses, went back to my office and back up the ladder.

While I was trying to focus the binoculars, the phone rang. I glanced over my desk and my caller ID said it was my son, Rob. I climbed down and answered. Before he could say anything, I started telling him what I was doing, and he started chuckling. He said he was picturing me straddled over my desk looking out the window and it was just too funny. I was glad he couldn’t see a video of me then.

Anyway, I asked him what I should do. He suggested I go out and look. Duh. But, I didn’t know what it was! Maybe it was a snake or something equally creepy. I climbed back up the ladder to look some more, all the while answering Rob’s questions. “How big is it? What does it look like? Is it still moving?” I didn’t know. By the time I got my opera glasses focused again, whatever it was, wasn’t where it had been. Eeeek!

I finally spotted it closer to the house. What the heck was it? It was slithering through the grass. My heart was really pumping at this point. My son suggested I get a large container and capture it. Easy for him to say! He lives forty minutes from me and he was safe and sound in his house. But he had planted the seed. I had to find out. I told him I’d call him back.

Gathering my courage, I went into the kitchen, found a large plastic mixing bowl with a snap-on lid and went out the patio door, all the while telling myself I could do this. I tried to get a grip on my pounding heart and heavy breathing. I certainly didn’t want to pass out now and have that thing, whatever it was, crawl on me! Cautiously, I crept along, searching, and finally spotted it around the side of the house, deep in the wet grass. It still wasn’t recognizable. By this time, my imagination had me one hair short of terrified, but despite that, I crept closer.

When I got about a yard away, I leaned forward as far as I dared, without losing my balance, and teetered above it on one foot. I couldn’t believe my eyes! It was a catfish! A catfish in my yard? Seriously?! It was about a foot long. I could see its whiskers. I’m not a fisherperson, so I didn’t know if they bite or have poisonous barbs or something, so I decided to try scooping it up into the bowl and taking it to the pond at the end of the street, two houses away.

I’m glad there wasn’t any video of this endeavor, either! You see, I have this problem. All my life I’ve never been able to scream. When something scares me and I open my mouth, a weird guttural sound comes out. It’s nothing like a scream. It’s a low pitched, breathy “Auuuuunnh!” After a couple of those sounds sort of slipped out during a lot of writhing and slithering, I finally was able to get him in the bowl and snap on the lid. Shouting, “Eeeeuuuuww!” all the way, I ran down the street to the pond, tore open the lid and threw my arms in that direction. He flew up in the air, arced downward and splashed into the water. Then off he went, swimming as fast as he could.

Exhausted, I called Rob back and described my ordeal, which sent him into gales of laughter. He kept saying, “Stop, stop!” I could picture him grasping his side in laughter-pain. When he finally calmed down, he said he could just see me “screaming” and dancing around with arms flailing, trying to get the catfish into the bowl and then running like a maniac to get to the pond to release it.

By this time, my heartbeat was getting close to the normal range and I could almost breathe without panting. Through his chuckles, Rob said, “Just think, Mom, you saved a fish’s life! What an original fish story.”

With a weak smile, I answered in my defense, “Well, at least my story is true.”


Coco Ihle is the author of SHE HAD TO KNOW, an atmospheric, traditional mystery set mainly in Scotland.
Join her here each 11th of the month.


Filed under Humor, musings

19 responses to “How I Survived “__?__NADO”

  1. Jeanie

    That was fun to read Coco!! Good job!

  2. Enjoyed your story but look up “walking catfish” in wikipedia. You probably broke the law while it was in your possession but I won’t tell anyone….oh, you already did.

    • I’m loving it. And don’t worry. These aren’t protected fish. The only way to break a law with these is to sell them, because they are banned due to the fact that Florida does not want people breeding them here. Because they are a pest!

    • Ha, ha! Art, I did look it up later. Even saw a video taken in a neighborhood in a neighboring town. Who’da thunk it?! Well, I couldn’t just let it die and stink up the neighborhood and cause insects to invade and…

  3. I’m with you, Coco: Ewwwwwwwwww.

  4. Suzanne Baginskie

    This is so good and you keep the reader in suspense. I thought it was an alligator at first. I think this would be a great tale for a Chicken soup book if it matches what they are looking for. I keep you advised.

    • Wow, Suzanne! Thanks so much for your kind compliment. I appreciate it very much. Once I got over being embarrassed by my squeamishness, I was able to really laugh about the whole thing and enjoyed telling on myself.

      Thanks so much for reading and commenting. It means a lot, especially from such a wonderful writer, as you.

  5. Coco & the Catfish–what a tale!

  6. Linda pappas

    Cute story I can see you doing that, I was just at the best part of your story when you were going to catch the unknown and my iPad shut down, What I had to find out what it was! Too funny.

    • Wow, Linda. You and I both had a suspenseful experience!!! I can hear you saying, “Oh, nooooooooooooooooooo!!!!! I’m glad you were able to see the ending. Ha, ha, ha,ha! Whew! Thanks for going through all that and for telling me about it.

  7. Joanie

    Your Sister, Joanie
    August 17, 2015 4:12 pm

    Wow, again! You had me on the edge of my seat and my heart doing a little more pounding than usual. It was VERY entertaining and quite humorous. But I am sure you only feel that way about the episode now. Great writing job, Sis. I am surprised that you didn’t e-mail me about that occasion when it happened!

    • Thank you, Sis. I didn’t email you, because I wanted you to read the whole episode. More fun that way. Anyway, what an experience, huh?!! I’ve never had a critter like that in my yard before!

      Thanks for going to the extra effort to leave a comment! I appreciate it a lot!!!

      • Joanie

        August 19, 2015 2:27 pm

        Yes, what an experience. I must say, you were very brave! I don’t know if I could have done that not knowing what it was.

  8. Pat Gordon

    Hi Coco,

    I thoroughly enjoyed your catfish story – you are a very talented writer. I am sure this is one of a kind “catfish tale”.

    Take care, Pat

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