Saturday, April 18, 2009

* A Mouse in the House

When I put my book, Blooming, together I had stories which almost made it in. This is one of those.

We first realized we had a mouse in our house when a guest nonchalantly pointed it out to us,

"You know you have a mouse, eh."

"No!" I squeaked in mild panic.

"He was right on your basement steps. He showed me to my room."

The mouse, a small furry scampering creature and prototype of thousands of loveable characters in children's storybooks, has capabilities beyond all proportions to frighten me, a full-grown, middle-aged women. It's not logical.

What can a little mouse do to a grown woman? I mean besides chew at my garbage, eat holes in my bag of flour, and leave little black droppings among my pots and pans. I'll tell you what it can do. It can make me scream, jump up on the furniture and yell for Marty.

Marty decided we would trap this particular mouse. Before retiring the evening after our observant overnight guest left, Marty set two with cheese, one with peanut butter. In the morning both traps were still set. The cheese was untouched, but the peanut butter had disappeared.

A smart little mouse, with definite tastes, we decided.
Marty tried again...three times. Each time the peanut butter was gone, the cheese went untouched and the traps were still loaded.

Rat poison, we decided.

We set out a plastic margarine tub filled with rat poison. I printed RAT POISON on it. Marty heaped the white granules into a small mountain. If a mouse visited the poison we would know. Night after night we set out the poison. Night after night it went undisturbed.

"Maybe the mouse can read," I wondered.

"But, it says rat poison," comforted Marty.

Then one evening as I was quietly lounging in the living room, engrossed in a Catherine Cookson novel, I was startled into reality by Marty whacking about in the kitchen with a yardstick.

"What's going on?" I came rushing to the kitchen.

"He was under the fridge. Now, he's under the stove," yelled Marty. "You stand in the doorway to the dining room and make sure he doesn't get through," he grinned.

I screamed and climbed up on the dining room table. After several minutes, all was quiet. I cautiously peered into the kitchen. Marty had the stove pulled away from the wall and was staring at a jagged two-centimetre hole in the wall where the baseboard ended at the corner.

Several minutes later he had the hole boarded and nailed over. He returned the stove to its position, after retrieving a spatula, a toothbrush and a candy thermometer. Now how did that stuff get back there?

That's when we set a few grains of poison, unmarked on a plastic lid under the stove.

That Saturday when we returned from an afternoon outing, the lid was protruding from beneath the stove. Marty checked. It was empty. We refilled it.

Sunday morning it was empty again.

Now we were laughing.

That same evening Marty stuck a plastic pail under my nose. "Look what I found," he exclaimed. I glanced at the bucket.

"What?" I questioned impatiently.

"Just look."

I peeked into the bucket and screamed.

There was a little dead mouse curled up on its back. Even when they are dead, they frighten me.

"Go away...and don't put it in the kitchen garbage," I warned.

The next morning the poison had been nibbled and there were fresh droppings in my cupboards as well as a peculiar musty odour in our basement, like something died down there. I wondered how many mice we had–living and dead.

That evening I happened to read a newspaper article about roof rats terrorizing posh neighbourhoods somewhere down south. It made me feel less harassed.

Go to Pruned story #2

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