It’s 3 AM.
“Bill, it’s walking on the stove!” she calls out.
I’m awake. She is not. She talks in her sleep. It’s often a complaint.
And always I am to blame.
She shouts again, “Bill, it’s walking on the stove!”
I wait for an explanation. None comes.
Only, “Bill, it’s walking on the stove!” A third urgent iteration. Then silence.
I contemplate the possibilities.
Should it be on the stove, but not walking?
Should it be walking, but not on the stove?
Should it be neither on the stove, nor walking?
Whatever it is, the desperation in her tone implies
it is unusual to be both on the stove and walking.
Is it perhaps a pot of chili which had taken hours to prepare, what with peeling the
tomatoes, chopping the peppers, discovering we were out of the required spices and
necessitating a run to the store, now (at 3 AM) boiling hot and about to commit harikari
by sprouting feet and inching its way closer to the front of the stove where it must be
stopped before toppling forward on to the new DuraCeramic tile which we only installed
two years ago (or was it five? you lose track of time at 3 AM)? Of course, she cannot
stop the suicidal pot herself, for she is in the middle of preparing a tossed salad, so she
must point out to her sous chef, in no uncertain terms, “Bill, it’s walking on the stove!”
Or is it a shivering feral cat who, seeking warmth, had somehow entered our tightly shut
home and was just hoping to curl up on the stove which (at 3 AM) was still warm from
the recent chili debacle, but was spotted by her who is ever vigilant for home invaders,
now accusing whoever is near of leaving a door unlocked and ajar? And she cannot
shoo the feline felon alone for everyone knows it takes two to corral an uncooperative
Maine Coon back outside where it belongs. (Though I don’t understand why a Maine
Coon would be shivering in the cold. As if that is the only mystery in this scenario.)
Or is it a toddler, a great grandson we do not yet have, who. being creative like his great
grandfather, has cleverly managed to open the kitchen drawers to form a stairway up to
the counter where, avoiding the knives and the electric outlets, not to mention the bowl
of hot chili, has crawled on to the stove, where he decided to stand and toddle, in which
case was she alerting me to save the kid from an inevitable fall, or to find my cell phone
and figure out (at 3 AM) how to video the moment of the baby’s first steps of his young
life to show his parents, who would post it on Facebook and keep it sixteen years to
embarrass the boy in front of his girl friend? “And here he is, walking on his great
Or is it an extraterrestrial alien, approximately eleven inches in height, with pale green
complexion, large unblinking eyes, and no clothes, whose teletransporter had
malfunctioned and instead of beaming it to a nearby woods where it would encounter a
man walking his dog (at 3 AM), a dog whose shrill bark would alert it to dematerialize
before the man could develop a description that would satisfy the police who had come
because neighbors had heard the shrill bark and assumed a nocturnal burglar was
prowling about, or the UFO investigators who would arrive five days later, but instead
had beamed the creature into our kitchen, where its three-toed, webbed feet were
“walking on the stove!” toward the pot of hot chili to the dismay of my wife?
Or is it a spider, for, since she is a veritable Miss Muffet when it comes to spiders,
having been known to call me from my desk while showering to attend to an eight-
legged webspinner ascending the sliding frosted glass doors, or to dispose of a daddy
long legs who had appeared from behind a bookcase (preferably by flushing it down the
toilet, but with several repeated flushes so as to prevent the wet, soggy arachnid from
crawling its way back into her presence at an inopportune time, seeing a spider “walking
on the stove!” (at 3 AM) is an almost rational explanation.
Dawn arrives a few hours later and, some time after that, I deliver her her morning
coffee. Upon questioning, she has no memory of the thing “walking on the stove!” (at 3 AM)
© by Bill Batcher.
Used with the author's permission.