Something Is Under the House (#236)

I thought I’d made peace with the freaky-assed crawl space below our house in Los Angeles. It’s not a nice, solid basement, but makes sense to have easy access to plumbing and the electrical lines for our drip system. And after multiple years, the only scary thing lurking under our house had turned out to be our own mischievous dog.

Until recently.


When you grow up with a lot of siblings and a father with a temper, you grow up wary. You never know which sibling might find your stash of food or diary. You learn to make yourself scarce when your father starts swearing at the dryer. You grow invisible antennae, alert for the slightest disturbance.

My husband didn’t grow up like that. Andy wasn’t spoiled, but he was the #1 Son of Chinese-American immigrants, rather than the middle child of 8-12 children. As such, he didn’t have to compete for food or attention.

His older sister didn’t quote passages of his diary back at him in front of others, either.

Andy doesn’t notice things that aren’t quite right. Kind of like he doesn’t notice dirt. I’ll ask him if he noticed any ants in the pantry, for example. He’ll breezily assure me there are no ants in the pantry and head off to work.

Twenty minutes later, I will find an entire colony of ants building a bloody palisade around the jar of honey. In the pantry.

You will be shocked to learn that I was the first one to notice our dog sniffing around the exterior vents to the crawl space.

I immediately asked my husband, “Honey, you think there’s something in the crawl space?” Crawlspace, sprinklers, and all things electronic fall under the husband’s purview. But that doesn’t mean Andy wants to don his coveralls and actually go under the house.

“It’s nothing,” Andy responded. “He’s just sniffing. Probably a possum rubbed up on it.”

Andy said the same thing when the cat sniffed at the vents, too.

He ignored me when I hinted that there could be a potential murderer living under our house.

He refused to even consider zombies and told me I was banned from watching The Walking Dead forever more.

“Can’t you just look under the house?” I begged.

He was too busy. It was too late. He was too tired.

I was tired, too, after sleepless nights, waking at the slightest noise, and wondering if it was The Thing Under the House.

The next day, I opened up the crawl space, took a deep breath…

…and sent in the cat.

What? Cats are fast and amazing survivors. If there was a small rodent, she’d get it. If it was a bigger predator/zombie, she could turn around and run way faster than I could.

The cat walked through one spider web, pawed at her face, and promptly exited the crawl space. She spent the next thirty minutes cleaning her face and glaring at me.

When I told Andy about our sad excuse for a predator, he said, “See? There’s nothing under there. You’re just imagining things.”

The following night, the dog sniffed frantically at the floor in my office. I called Andy in. “Do you see that?! There is definitely something down there!”

“There isn’t,” Andy argued. “There’s no way a rat or a possum could have gotten in. There’s no holes in the vents, and nothing has pried open the wooden frame and slipped in.”

“Maybe it’s not a rat or a possum,” I argued. “Maybe its something with hands that could pull the entrance shut behind it.”

“Honey. There is nothing down there!”

The dog tried to dig up the hardwood floor.

As Andy dragged the dog away, he finally muttered, “Fine. I’ll go under the house on Saturday.”

“That’s two days away! We could be murdered!”

“If it’s anything, it’s a rodent,” Andy insisted. “If you want to go look before Saturday, feel free. I’ve got some traps you can set.”

There was no way in hell I was going into the crawl space of doom. Andy knew it. I chewed my nails and waited.

Saturday afternoon, Andy donned his protective coveralls.

I waved the phone as he headed into the backyard. “Scream loud and I’ll call the cops right away, okay?”

Andy rolled his eyes at me and went around to the side of the house.

A minute passed. I imagined a zombie raccoon creeping up on Andy.

Another minute passed. I heard a thump. I planned out Andy’s funeral.

Almost under my feet I heard, “AHHHHH! Crap!”


“No! It’s not a thing. It’s water! Goddamnit, the pipe that drains from the bathtub broke. All the bath water has been collecting under the house. There’s puddles. I just crawled through one. Now I’m coming out.”

I met a muddy, grumpy Andy as he emerged from the crawl space and peppered him with questions: “How much water was there? Do you think it’s screwed up the foundation?”

“No idea,” Andy said as he pulled himself out and upright. His muddy shoulder glittered in the sun.

“Since last month,” I told him, pointing to his glistening coveralls. “That’s when I used the glittery pink bath bomb.”

Andy scowled as he realized he was covered in glitter mud. Then he shrugged and said, “At least it wasn’t the drain for the toilet.”

Because Andy had put off his crawl space investigation until the weekend, we had to pay weekend prices for an emergency plumber to replace and repair our pipes. Instead of a few hundred dollars, it was a few thousand.

When the plumber finished, I sent Andy back under the house with rat traps.

“But I didn’t see any rats!” he protested.

“Oh, please. The animals know the rats are down there. I know the rats are down there. Just put down the traps, okay?”

Andy did. The next day, we had one dead rat in a trap. We also had one rat-sized hole in a vent screen, probably from the surviving rat chewing its way out in a panic.

Andy replaced the broken vent immediately. He baited and put down new rat traps. He didn’t even complain when I sent him under the house a few months later to make sure it was dry and rat-free. (It was.)

Yes, your wife might be paranoid.
That doesn’t mean she’s wrong.*

*Okay, she’s probably wrong about the zombies. 

Published by

Autumn Ashbough

WF writing about the humorous perils of life with Chinese-American significant other.

18 thoughts on “Something Is Under the House (#236)”

  1. Some of these behaviors may be a guy thing. My husband does not notice mice turds or ant trails. He is oblivious to signs of an apocalypse. I am convinced he’d be dead by now if it wasn’t for me and the cats keeping an “eye” on things.

    1. Oh, yeah. Without you he’d have the hanta virus at the very least. My husband would have no food, but the ants would be holding feasts in his honor and toasting him with mead.

      1. Now I have this picture in my head. BTW my husband cleans up after I cook. He refuses to take any direction. After he leave the kitchen, I really clean up. Who puts clean dishes on a dirty counter?

  2. My dad always built houses with crawl spaces. Being a builder, he didn’t mind crawling under the house when he needed to. Since I left my childhood home, Most of the houses I’ve lived in had a daylight basement. I think I prefer crawl spaces. Basements feel colder and they seem to attract spiders. But you do need a husband who doesn’t mind crawling under the house. It would give me claustrophobia. Good for Andy for finally doing it.

      1. I really appreciate having a daylight basement, since we’ve been able to catch all of the water leaks before they cost us ‘a few thousand’. I prefer the cold, and spiders don’t bother me at all(office is in basement). I’m actually more bothered by getting dirty than cold or spiders. Never had rats in our house, just one mouse over the years that scared the girls since it ran out during dinner for some reason. Our cat at the time ignored it too..lazy bum.

          1. Awwww, I love cats! My Avatar looks exactly like my first cat as a kid. Our current cat would be using the mouse for tasty entertainment. She hangs out with me in the basement while I work, and there was one time we heard tiny little scratching sounds. We both looked up at the ceiling, and I swear she got this hopeful look on her face. Our first cat was a rescue, and the previous owners declawed his front paws….I think that was the reason he was so passive. He as also afraid of going outside, but loved snuggling with us.

            1. Oh, I love my cats. But they are not mousers. Birds are much more fun. And lizards.

              I think a kitty has to get a taste for blood early, or they go the entertainment route as opposed to the deadly killer route.

  3. Always thought that these crawl spaces are something only exisiting in horror movies! Here we got only basements or a solid slab of concrete. I would be just terrified to crawl into such space, never would I go there. At least the water didn’t damage anything and Andy surely should have listened much earlier

  4. See Autumn, this is why the world would fall apart without women! If you never badgered Andy to look down there, your whole house would be flooded with rats and old bathtub water!

    I’m glad that it was just water and not a murderer! Still, rats are kind of gross… good thing you pestered Andy to put the traps down 😉

    1. Yes, I think our trees drank quite well for a while. They were sad when the pipe was fixed.

      Homeownership is one part vigilance and two parts swearing when your vigilance turns up an expensive repair.

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