Evicting an unwanted visitor of the vermin variety.
| Merry Chrismouse! Passing the stone mantel, my eyes registered something as not quite right. Where were the whole nuts that had adorned my Christmas wreath for the past ten years? Had I been oblivious to the bald patches when I'd placed it a few days ago? Lifting the wreath for a closer inspection, I discovered shell fragments scattered beneath it. Oh, no, this was the final, inescapable clue. Busy with all things Christmas-y; baking, decorating, and wrapping gifts, I'd ignored the irritating indications of a mouse invasion. First, crayons and candles had mysteriously disappeared from the kitchen hold-all drawer. Bread wrappers developed tiny puncture marks in their corners. Dust bunnies appeared to be larger, darker, and furry. If I was so inclined, and searched the remote recesses of cupboards, I knew I'd dislodge mouse droppings. Sighing, I clomped into the kitchen. I'd just returned home after a long, stressful day, and at two-thirty in the morning, it wasn't yet finished with me. Under the glare of the ceiling lights, I yawned, and I puttered; washing dishes and folding laundry. At some point, I sensed that I was not alone. I'd describe it as a tingling, not a spoken reply to my self-muttering. Gasping, I espied a brazen mouse perched atop the counter, watching my every move with beady, bright eyes. I chose to interpret this as a dare, and so began our game of tag. Hoping to not physically touch my tormenter, I reached for an empty, plastic, margarine tub. Hasty, would portray my strategy. I'd never brandished this particular, if not peculiar, type of mouse trap, and visions of banishing this beast danced in my head. My wild wielding of it didn't seem to daunt my prey. Scampering with surprising speed and agility, he eluded every swoop and stab. Around and around the kitchen my nimble nemesis led me, in a merry chase. I'd clearly underestimated his stamina. Finally, I admitted defeat, and I threw in the damp dish towel so to speak, but not before stuffing dryer fabric softener sheets into every nook and cranny. I'll admit this seemed to be a Hail Mary, but I had to attempt something pro-active, and I'd heard that mice were repelled by them. At the very least, my kitchen would smell like fresh linen. Over the next few evenings, this bold mouse would saunter into my livingroom, uninvited, to check out my choice of television programming. I swear he smirked as I cursed and gave chase. Some people sweat on a Stairmaster or a treadmill; I had a wee, furry, fitness coach. For some unknown reason, this rascal of a rodent avoided the decorated Christmas tree. Not once did I see him climb the fragrant evergreen. Perhaps the sticky pine tar and prickly needles reminded him of the great outdoors that he'd abandoned in favour of my home. My unwanted guest wore out his welcome. A few days before Christmas, he startled my visiting granddaughters. Four-year old Emily screamed, "Nanna! There's a mouse in your house!" before leaping onto the safety of a chair. Her eight-year old sister, Sydney, and I raced to her rescue. At first glance, we saw no sign of the intruder. Strewn about the floor were many toys; Barbie dolls and their wondrous wardrobe, stuffed animals, miniature teacups, and several storybooks. Just as we began to suspect that Emily and her over-active imagination were mistaken, the red and white crocheted Santa doll began to quiver. Santa's whiskers were twitching, too. I yelled for my husband to grab my mouse-catcher of choice, but he rushed into the room with a green Tupperware canister. At that moment I refused to care; I already knew I'd be tossing it into the trash if it even so much as grazed the vermin. Its days of preserving freshness were doomed, as was the fate of this mouse. Trapping the mouse required the efforts of everyone on our four-member team. From her vantage point atop the chair, Emily acted as the spotter. She shouted that the mouse was hiding behind the stereo speaker. With his Tupperware trap ready in one hand, Pappa slowly slid the speaker away from the wall, muscles tensed. Eagle-eyed Emily redirected him, "No, he's over there." Sure enough the wily rodent scurried along the wall, and leapt into a brimming toy box. Ahh, he was counting upon camouflage and confusion, but my husband's hand didn't hesitate as it followed close on the tiny tail. As he dug deeper, Pappa's shadow, Sydney, cooed, "He's so little and cute!"She squealed with delight when her grandfather straightened with a miniature toy cereal box containing the wriggling rodent. Emily cheered and clapped, "Yeah, Pappa!" The catch of the day wasn't cowed, or caught. He dove for the floor, and scrabbled towards the exit. Sydney hollered, "Nanna, shut the door!" I slammed the door, and adopted a goalie's stance in front of it, a semi crouch. The manic mouse never hesitated. He took his shot and launched himself at my feet, aiming for the gap only he could squeeze through. Hey, I'd never been a hockey player, but I had kicked a soccer ball. I punted that crazy critter towards my receptive spouse who scooped it into the Tupperware. Pappa motioned to Sydney for a book; he needed a makeshift lid to contain the scratching scourge. As she handed over a copy of Twas the Night Before Christmas , Sydney snuck one last peek. "Aww, look at him." Sweating and panting, my triumphant rodent remover hurried out the front door. When he returned and tried to give me the tainted Tupperware container, my hero announced that he'd deposited his quarry into a snowbank across the road. Haha, our home invader 'was on ice'. Squeamish like me, hubby had never touched his catch. He'd flung it. I harboured no illusion that this mouse would not return. Shivering in the snow would only motivate him. In all likelihood, he'd probably slide down our chimney like Santa. Unlike St. Nick, he could not anticipate a welcome with cookies. Just the day before this intense interception, I'd complained to Sydney that a really big 'mouse' named Chris had helped himself to Christmas treats while I was shopping. She innocently asked, "You named your mouse, Chris?" I did not need to explain any further when her father, my son Chris, entered the room munching on Christmas cookies he'd 'found' raiding my pantry.
( 1072 words)