I was dozing somewhere happily between sleep and wakefulness on Saturday afternoon when my wife nudged me, saying "Honey, I think you should take a look at these two holes in the wall in the guest room..."
My fuzzy brain immediately leaped to termites. Two years ago she had noticed a small hole in the baseboard in the bathroom with what looked like a pile of sawdust on the floor in front of it, which ultimately led to a thorough inspection and full-home treatment at no small cost. About a year later another hole showed up in the bathroom, this time by the bathtub, which resulted in another inspection and treatment. So yeah, when she woke me up telling me about holes in the wall in the guest room I groaned and sat up complaining, "Aw, crap, more termites?"
A moment of confusion flickered across her face before she replied, "Um, no... just please come take a look."
I walked into the guest room expecting to need the holes pointed out to me (I am terrible about noticing small visual details whereas Kris has bionic eyes and never misses a thing). I needn't have worried, because these holes could not be missed. Exploding out of the guest room ceiling was an obvious exit hole with fragments of drywall folded outwards like the petals of a flower. From the angle of the sheet rock fragments still hanging in place and the bore of the hole it was clear that some kind of projectile had come in through the attic space downward at about a 45 degree angle. Following the same trajectory through to the western wall of the room was an impact crater with the plaster caved inwards. The projectile itself was not visible, all that could be seen was the fibrous tissue of the exterior wall insulation. Whatever had passed through the room never made it outside -- there was on corresponding exit hole on the house exterior -- and so the offending object remained trapped somewhere inside the wall.
My immediate impression: these are bullet holes! Holy crap!! My next thought was, following the path backwards, we must have a hole in our roof as well. I hauled out the ladder and clambered up onto our garage roof, thinking I could perhaps scan our second-story roof from there or maybe climb up to search. Fortunately, better sense prevailed after my initial scan. I couldn't see anything from the lower level, and even if I did find the hole I did not have the tools, supplies, or expertise to know how to properly patch a perforated roof. All I was likely to do was fall off of my house like a complete moron, and then I'd have a whole new painful set of problems. At least it wasn't the rainy season, so we weren't likely to sustain any significant moisture damage over the next few days until I could get a roofing inspector out to take a look.
During the ensuing few days I had several people suggest that it probably wasn't a bullet, and was more likely to actually be a meteorite. One anonymous internet commentator insisted that there was absolutely no way that it could be a bullet, because a spent round simply does not have enough ballistic energy remaining to penetrate a roof plus two sheets of drywall. I didn't really want to cut a bigger hole in my wall to go digging for the projectile, so on the next Monday while I was waiting for the roof people to come I used a small USB inspection camera to perform an endoscopy on my home. That proved fruitless, I was never able to see anything but layers of insulation.
Sure enough, when the inspector arrived it took him all of about three minutes to find the entry wound in the flesh of my home. The tar of the shingle was melted around the puckered 9mm circular void pointing directly down to the guest room below. After a second trip for supplies and about an hour of labor, the house was patched up and water-proof once again. At no small expense, i might add. Sometimes home ownership sucks.
The bullet/meteor debate raged on for another day until I finally took a drywall knife to a rectangular block around the bullet hole in the guest room wall. As I pulled the wallboard away I still didn't see anything initially. There was the clear puncture in the paper facing of the insulation but nothing obviously sitting in the pocket of that void. I started pressing inward to try to feel for the projectile when I abruptly heard a solid THUNK! at my feet and looked down to see a striated, carbon-scarred lump of brass. This was no meteorite, it was a shockingly heavy spent round that could very easily have killed or severely injured anyone in my house. Just a slight shift to the south and it would have come down through my son's bed. A slight shift to the north and it would have come down through the master bedroom.
The nearest I can figure is that on New Year's Eve some drunken reveler decided to shoot his gun in the air. "In the air" of course being a relative term, the person most have been standing somewhere on the western edge of Ocoee and fired up at a fairly shallow angle. The path downward through my house was nowhere near vertical, and the bullet had way too much energy left to have gained a bunch of altitude and then tumbled down at terminal velocity. There were so many fireworks going off that night that we would never have noticed the sound of the bullet strike as anything distinct from the other loud booms going on all around the neighborhood. I am still a little weirded out by the whole thing. I am at least grateful that nobody was hurt. What could have been a tragedy was simply another adventure in the expenses of being a homeowner. Good times.