I spotted it out of the corner of my eye, as I was picking up some keys from the top of a piece of furniture we have in the entrance: a small grey furry body that scurried quickly from the back of that piece of furniture to behind a Mexican wicker basket we have on the floor by the entrance door. It turned around behind it, and peered at me, convinced I had not seen it.
“There is a little mouse in the entrance” I said aloud so Cherry could hear me in the kitchen. She came out.
“What was that?” she asked.
“A mouse; a little field mouse, it’s behind the basket, staring at me.” I explained.
“Don’t let it get into the house!”
“It’s in the house already.” I replied, emphasizing the in.
Taking charge of the situation, like all males are expected to do, I asked her to get me a broom, or a floor sweeper. I was thinking of the contraption we use to damp mop the hardwood. A doohickey with a wide pad at the end; I thought I would be able to corral it and convince it to leave out the front door. Cherry disappears. I hear her shut all the doors in the house. The mouse and I are keeping an eye on each other. I act ignorant of its presence. It’s not blinking; it’s just staring at me. I’m glancing around, but I look back every couple of seconds.
Cherry returns with a thing called a Swiffer, and the doohickey I had in mind. She hands me both, from the living room. I hand her one and say “you’re goalie. If it gets past me, you try to keep it from entering the living room.”
She looks at me, clearly confused. I explain the strategy. She takes up position at the entrance to the living room, doohickey placed horizontally against the floor, like an 18” long levy. I doubt it’ll be effective. Mice have no problems running along walls at a 90° angle to the floor. I figure it’s going to do just that. I arm myself with the Swiffer. It appears to be more manoeuvrable than the doohickey, which I realize is too wide to navigate in the entrance. The coffee I had just made myself is sitting next to the keys, getting cold…
I open the front door. The mouse is 12” away from it. With the Swiffer in my right hand, I lift the basket up with my left, revealing the furry intruder. It does not look scared. In fact, it hardly moves. I approach it with the Swiffer. It looks at the thing coming towards it and moves slightly towards the door. I move the thing closer. It backs up a bit more, and then decides to get under the door. The great outdoors beckons, I hope.
It scurries along the threshold and past the door. Now it’s on the other side. This is where there really is a bunch of stuff: a large potted plant; a 2-foot high carving of Hanuman, an East Asian deity that resembles a monkey, and which is often referred to as “the monkey god”; a 4-foot twisting column with a gong atop of it; and a 2-seat greenish wooden bench. (We have a lot of eclectic stuff…) The area is a tad cluttered.
The mouse is behind Hanuman, obviously seeking the protection of the monkey god. Hanuman’s bulging eyes glare at me, teeth and gums bared, lips curled back. I grab Hanuman by the head, a move that would likely horrify some of its adherents. Luckily for me, I’m not religious; quite the opposite. With the monkey god no longer affording protection, the mouse is visible again. I extend the Swiffer… The mouse rushes to the protection of the jungle. Now it’s behind the potted plant. I can’t move that. It would require a forklift.
I poke one side of the Swiffer around the back of the potted plant. The mouse starts running around the potted plant. I withdraw the Swiffer and we look at the mouse running in a circle around the base of the pot.
Cherry starts laughing. The mouse stops running around the pot and looks at us. “The door is open!” I say to it. It starts running around the pot again.
“This is ridiculous” I say to Cherry. “It’s either severely intellectually challenged, or has made itself dizzy.”
“Get out!” I say to the spinning mouse. It stops.
“Maybe you can pick it up and put it outside” she says.
“Not with my bare hands”, I reply. “These animals bite you know. And I don’t want to be bitten.”
I am remembering some forty plus years ago when, in a moment of adolescent stupidity —I had a lot of these around that time— I went and purchased a $2 mouse from a pet store. That animal was the most vicious beast I have ever encountered. Whenever I fed it, or gave it water, it would lunge at my hand, trapped inside the cage by the narrow door, and bite me repeatedly and ferociously. This went on for three months. During the entire time my bedroom stank as though there was a pride of unwashed lions living there. After three months, I decided —brilliantly— that enough was enough and released it in the wild. It ran off without looking back. That mouse was a born killer, and I wonder occasionally what havoc it wreaked on the unsuspecting denizens of the area.
I stop my musings as Cherry returns with a pair of oven mitts.
“These are pretty well worn out”, she says “and I’ve got another brand new pair somewhere. See if you can catch it.”
I put on the oven mitts. The odds are good that a pair of space gloves from NASA would be more flexible. At least, these mitts are thick and I doubt that the mouse could bit me through them. I crouch down, near the base of the potted plant. The mouse turns and starts running around the base again.
“This thing needs a cage with a wheel in it.” I mutter out loud. Cherry is giggling.
I pounce at just the right moment. The mouse runs directly into one of the mitts. I trap it with the other. I’ve caught a mouse. And it wasn’t particularly hard. The mouse’s head pokes out of the mitts. Cherry runs to get her camera.
I don’t want to squish it, so I am trying to be gentle with it. I allow a bit more mouse to squeeze out of the mitts. It’s a little grey mouse. Shiny eyes look at me; the little mouth is open, trying to bite the mitt. Little white teeth are showing. Cherry clicks away.
Then, suddenly, the little mouse stops moving. The fight has left it. By now we’ve moved outside, shutting the front door behind us to prevent its re-entry.
There is no movement that I can feel through the thick mitts. I gradually open my hands, fearing I might have been squeezing it too hard. It’s in my palm; upside down. The little legs are splayed out, the mouth open revealing two lower rodent teeth. Moreover, it’s taken a crap. Looks like diarrhea…
Now I feel really bad. I did not mean to kill it. I like animals; well, most animals. It’s just really difficult to gauge strength with those mittens. And there it is: lying in state, white belly fur exposed. I feel awful.
“I think I killed it” I say to Cherry. She looks at it closer. “Aw, did you?”
“I think so. It looks dead.”
As I move to place the corpse up on the hillside near the house, carrying the little inert body in the open mitt, the mouse suddenly returns to life and launches itself into the void, landing on the gravel four feet below. From there it runs under a car. While being taken aback, I can almost hear it yelling in victory “Fooled you, sucker!”
I am left with my mouth hanging open and an oven mitt with crap on it.
You’ve got to love living in the country.