If you recall, last July when my feet were so badly sunburned that I couldn't even stand on them without excruciating pain, a leak had developed underneath my refrigerator. I called some plumbers who showed me how easy it was to pull the fridge out from its built-in cabinet and who determined that the leak was due to some sort of rodent (in their words, a "big, fat rat") gnawing through the water line feeding the ice maker. They replaced the leaking line and told Eliot the Cat to step up his rat patrol.
Well, that was that - or so I thought. Last weekend, when my tooth ached so badly that I finally had to have it yanked out, the leak had reappeared. I pulled the fridge out as the plumbers had shown me, and determined that the water line wasn't the source this time. Leaving the fridge out for a while, I realized that the leak was coming not from the water line, but from beneath the refrigerator itself, from somewhere up in the machinery where I couldn't reach. So I turned off the water line and the ice maker and the leak stopped, although now I don't have an ice maker.
No big loss. Life goes on (or so I thought). I pushed the fridge back into the cabinet and forgot about the leak.
But soon a foul smell, the distinctive odor of a dead animal, starting coming from beneath the fridge. I pulled it out again but could find no corpse - the dead critter must have been up there in the machinery as well. It probably gnawed some line and caused the latest leak while in its death throes, I reasoned, strangely satisfied that it paid with its life for inconveniencing me. It didn't seem very hygienic to have a dead animal in such close proximity to where I store much of my food, but at least whatever it was that had been vandalizing my refrigerator was no longer going to be a problem (or so I thought).
After a few days the smell faded and my home returned to normal, except, of course, for the service of the ice maker. But then last night, while I was in bed, that now familiar rattling sound from beneath the refrigerator returned.
How could this be? It's dead! Or could there be a second rodent? And if so, why was it always underneath the refrigerator? What's under there that could possibly be so interesting? There's food in the cabinets that hasn't been gnawed at, there's a big old bag of cat chow on the pantry floor that's been unmolested, and there's no sign of rodent droppings anywhere in the house. Eliot, who usually goes berserk at the sight of potential prey, shows no interest whatsoever in the sound. In fact, there's absolutely no evidence of the presence of a rodent or any other animal except for the occasional leaks from beneath the fridge.
And that sound. That sound that is clearly coming from beneath the refrigerator but that only I can hear, that only occurs late at night, and that stops when I get up and walk into the kitchen.
What kind of creature only wants to live within the mechanical confines of a refrigerator? What kind of creature knows when I am in pain, either sunburned or tooth ached, and only does its damage when I'm most vulnerable and least able to respond? What kind of creature wants others to think that I'm only imagining it? What kind of creature reeks of death, yet still lives on?
The answer, of course, is a Gremlin.
I clearly have a Refrigerator Gremlin.