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Posts Tagged ‘mice’

My brother, Colin, returned to the house empty-handed.

“What have you been doing? Where’s the firewood?”

“There’s something in the woodpile.”

“What do you mean? What’s in the woodpile?”

“Well, if I knew, I would have said there’s a snake in the woodpile, or there’s a chipmunk in the woodpile, or there’s a vicious, snarling wolverine in the woodpile, or there’s…”

“Okay, stop!” He’s so annoying. Trying to shut him up is like plugging a bathtub with a straw.

“I only see I should have been more precise and said, there is an unidentified creature of indefinable size with a questionable temperament in the woodpile.”

“For the love of God, will you please shut up. We need wood. Do you want me to go back out with you?”

Clasping his hands together in solemn, mock prayer, he said, “Yes, plleeeaaaasssse. I need my little sister to protect me and eradicate this vile interloper.” He finally grew tired of his performance. “Seriously, I need you to come out and hold a light while I dig around in there.”

“Well, that sounds like a dumb idea. What if you get bitten? You’ve exceeded your quota of trips to the ER for the year.” This garnered me a look of incredulity I may have deserved.

“When I said dig around, I didn’t mean with my bare hands.”

I grabbed my coat and the biggest flashlight we had before following him out to the garage. There I found him eyeing garden tools. “Maybe we should wait until Mom and Dad get home?”

Scrutinizing our collection and ignoring me, he asked, “What implement do you recommend?”

I thought a few seconds. “Maybe a crowbar?”

“Excellent idea, Chloe…strong ― perfect for flipping logs and beating things.”

“I would prefer not to see any bloodletting if you can restrain yourself.”

With a significant amount of trepidation, I followed him to the woodpile in our backyard. “What exactly happened when you were out here before?”

“Howling. Shrieking. Rustling noises. Loud!” he added for emphasis.

I whispered, “I don’t hear anything now. Maybe whatever it was is gone.” I didn’t want to see anything that was capable of howling.

Colin began using the crowbar to pull logs from the top of the front section. The wood was double stacked and the entire pile rested alongside our small barn. It was early in the season and we had about two cords. On a cold or rainy night, it was a perfect spot for small critters to take refuge. We’d had our share of mice, small snakes and occasional opossums on a regular basis. None of these visitors had the vocal chords to howl or shriek. Colin had rolled about seven or eight logs on the ground and I was focusing the light on the area he was working. I had begun to relax and stop worrying.

“Waaw. Hoo hoo to hoo oo, hoo hoo to wha-aaa waww ooooow!” This sudden, hideous screeching and hellish sounds of movement sent us scrambling backward in unison in a mad attempt to escape whatever was possibly about to throw itself upon us. We both fell over the logs on the ground as they rolled beneath our feet, sending us helter-skelter and finally landing, bruised, in a heap among them. The flashlight fell from my hand. Unfortunately Colin had a terrified iron grip on the crowbar and, in the melee, he had managed to conk me on the head with it.

He was yelling. “Grab the light. Get it up there.”

When I did, we caught our breath. Above us were two enormous, round eyes reflecting a fiery, black-as-the-Devil, shine. The thing had risen from between the stacks like Vesuvius exploding over Pompeii.

Colin said, “Don’t move.”

“I’m not even breathing.”

While it swayed slowly from side to side and appraised us, we sat there, motionless, attempting to look nonthreatening. I was aware of the sound of the talons scraping over the logs. I wondered how long they were.

Five minutes passed as we watched him rotate his head like Linda Blair in The Exorcist. The only other noticeable movement was me shivering. “I’m cold,” I whispered.

“Yeah, we seem to be at an impasse here. On the bright side, I think he’s scouting around the yard for smaller prey.”

“What kind is it?”

“A barred owl.”

“He’s really big and doesn’t seem interested in leaving. You still have the crowbar. You could whack him.”

“Now you’re okay with bloodshed? I’m going to report you to the Audubon Society.” A minute later, he said, “I think we need to make a break for it.”

“I’m not excited about your idea. But, I don’t have a better one.”

“On the count of three we get up and run for the back porch. Deal?”

I uttered a squeaky little ‘yes’ that brought the bird’s focus sharply back to us.

Colin said, “Could you try a little harder not to sound like a mouse?”

“Sorry.”

“Now we’re going to have to wait until he looks the other way again.”

When he renewed his demonic head twists, Colin whispered, “One… two… three.” Then we discovered our legs had stiffened into inflexible appendages. In those seconds we couldn’t spare, I watched, stunned, as the wings unfurled in a shocking display of dreadful, predatory intent. It was a four foot killing machine, eight feet from my face.

Colin pulled me up as it lifted into flight. We limped, stumbled and ran hard. There was no need to look back. I could hear the muffled wing sounds, then felt displaced air hitting me. I could feel it coming. My brother yelled, “Dive,” and pulled me to the ground, as it swooped two feet over our heads. We lay there, breathing fast, assuring ourselves it wasn’t going to return.

Patting my back, Colin smiled. “This might be a good time to get that wood.”

“Yeah, that’s a brilliant idea. Go do it. My work here is done.”

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I inherited my love of mice from my mother.  When you live in a hundred year old house, you have to expect to share it with these downy little guys who come in from the cold in the fall.  We coexisted quite well.  They never fazed my mother, not even when she woke up one night to find one standing up on her chest chittering away in the dark at her, as if he had some complaint about his own accommodations.  She threw him off the blanket and went back to sleep.

If she wasn’t afraid of them, why would I be?

Once when my step-father was showering, she opened the shower curtain and said, “Guess what I have in here?”  She was holding an empty toilet paper roll between her palms.  I don’t know why she did this.  She had to have anticipated the outcome.  When he couldn’t begin to guess, she said, “A mouse.”  He said, “You’re lying.”  He doubted my mother?  Bad idea.  She removed one hand so he could see inside.  The mouse made his getaway by jumping on a naked man and landing soaking wet in the tub.  There ensued another pursuit of this little guy who was later dried off and put outside.

Years ago, I was invited for dinner at her new house which was a ranch…lots of space for running amok.  I was thrilled to see she had a mouse in a cardboard box in the kitchen.  She had a screen over the box and planned to put the mouse outside when the cat was not around.  It was just the two of us that night.  I got the mouse out of the box and sat down at the kitchen table, playing with the mouse and talking to my mother as she cooked.  She finally looked at me and said sternly,  “Don’t you dare let that mouse loose.”  I told her, “I won’t.  I’m holding him. He’s fine.”  Well, he was quite fine because less than a minute later, after he had lulled me into thinking he really like being held by a giant, he took a flying leap onto the floor…which my mother noticed immediately and started yelling at me.  She turned off the stove and we chased him for ten minutes through several rooms before he wound up in her guest room.  We closed the door and thought we had him.   My mother had a queen-sized bed in there.  If any mouse had run under my queen-sized bed, he would have been lost forever in a maze of books, shoes, gift wrap, plastic containers, empty gift boxes and other necessary paraphernalia a person might need close at hand.   Under my mother’s guest bed, there was nothing.  Nothing but a very irritated mouse who stood up in the middle and loudly vocalized his displeasure.  She and I were on opposite sides of the bed, and try as we might, neither of us could quite reach him.  My mother had finally stopped yelling at me, and we lay on the floor and laughed.

********************

My daughter has her own mouse story, involving me, of course.  She was visiting overnight.  I was downstairs making breakfast the next morning when she appeared, held out her hand and said, “Mother, would you like to explain this, please?”  I saw nothing but a tissue.  She said, “I was looking for something in the medicine cabinet and found this.”  Then I remembered.   She was continuing to frown at me, saying, “For the love of God, mother, is there something wrong with you?”

I told her, “I can explain.”  And, this is what happened.  Several nights before, in the middle of the night when I was sound asleep, my cat, Annie, brought me a mouse present.  I was able to retrieve him, this one already lifeless, but I was exhausted and in my nightgown.  My options were to take the dead mouse downstairs to the cold garage and put him in the trash, or hide him somewhere so Annie couldn’t get him.  If he wasn’t securely contained, she would have gotten to him and started chewing, an idea I did not find appealing at 3:00 am.  I didn’t want to put him inside a drawer, and finally opted to put him inside a tissue and lay him inside the medicine cabinet.  It was the safest choice.  I crawled back into bed, fully intending to discard him in the morning, but I totally forgot the mouse.  Ergo, Jess was searching the medicine cabinet and found a dead and dried-up mouse in a tissue.  I don’t know why she was so surprised…

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More Haikus

my television

takes me round the whole big world

I am couch tourist

~~~~~~~~~~~

withering away

old people, not useful now

remember their youth

~~~~~~~~~~~

Annie’s hunting mice

in the basement she’s silent

her claws sheathed but sharp

~~~~~~~~~~~

waiting for someone

a challenging endeavor

when in a hurry

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