Pounding too hard and fast, it shakes like a misaligned car. You feel it against your gorge, caroming off the rib cage, lungs constricting into a coughing fit, up the windpipe like the 4 AM finish to a tequila sunset.

You choke as it kicks through the narrow channel. A salty monster fills your mouth and you instinctively retch upwards. Your jaw clicks with the stretch; it'll be sore a long time afterwards.

It stabilizes and floats for a few seconds just above eye level, making a desperate sucking noise, both of you dazed. You wipe your chin and hear your surroundings with new clarity. Then it continues its ascent.

It galumphs across the ceiling looking for an exit. In its enthusiasm upon reaching the opposite wall, most of its contents are forced down onto the family portrait, the desk and the floor. You worry whether you'll have the strength to clean it up.

You open the window and try to remove the screen, snagging a fingernail. Sucking on the injured finger, you use your elbow to tear through the grid. You peel it out. Your heart, meanwhile, has rolled to the door, attracted by the slight breeze into the room. Mercifully it's blocked by the frame, having no notion of a downward tactical retreat.

You stand by the window and snap the fingers of your left hand: "Here, boy! That's a good girl!"

Finally, exasperated, you fetch an empty hanger from the closet and try to bat the thing toward the window. It's stubborn; there's some shoving involved. You have to stand on tiptoe so that you can position the flat end of the hanger against the ceiling to prevent a lighting out back to the door. The process is speeded when you bend the hanger into a 120 degree angle, making a kind of scoop.

rd -- Copyright 1991 Ray Davis