The Great Black & White Hunter
| There is nothing like the holidays to bring the family together for a rousing game of 'Catch the Mouse'. It's the cat's favorite recreation; the rules are simple and easy to learn, and to we of a certain age, it is less
life-threatening than "Twister".
This mouse made its appearance as I was brushing my teeth the other night. From the thrashing sound outside the bathroom door, I knew Susie Cat was not playing with one of her toys, but had encountered the real thing. My only worry was that she would chase it under the crack between the bottom of the bathroom door and the floor. Bare-footed, and armed with only a toothbrush, I made a fast check to see what other weapons were available. Would a squirt of Lysol disinfectant stop the mouse, or would bashing it with a plastic shampoo bottle do the trick? I considered whether I could smother it with the doily that comes with my wife's body wash, but then I would have to grab the little rodent first.
The sound of the struggle receded in the opposite direction, so I bravely opened the bathroom door and stepped out, peeking in the dining area, where Susie was operating. The mouse was not to be seen, presumably being under the hutch, which dates back to the time when furniture makers built real objects.
Susie sat on all fours in front of the rococo opening in the hutch, tail puffed and swishing and peering intently into the darkness underneath. I hustled first to the bedroom to put on sandals and then to the pantry to grab the broom and a dustpan. Then it was back to a spot where I could cut off its escape to the bedrooms and bathroom, while wife took a seat at the dining room table to watch the action. The dog came out and lay in the middle of the floor to back up my wife.
So now it was time to sit and watch.... and watch..... and watch. Patience is not the strong suit of the human race, so after an interminable wait of at least two minutes, I grabbed the flashlight and shone it under the hutch, revealing nothing. I could have suggested to the cat that she make shadow pictures to get the mouse's attention, but she does not appreciate my brand of humor.
Wife now requested the broom, so I gave it to her and picked up a shoe in its stead. I could have told her what would happen, but I was sure she would not listen. The cat watched intently while my better half poked the broom into the opening. The mouse had a better idea. It slipped out the right side and skittered across the floor while the cat kept focusing its eyes on the broom. The rodent fled under the other china cabinet in the room.
I alerted wife, and once again the heavy artillery was wheeled into place, but convincing the cat that the criminal had fled the scene was another matter. The mouse now decided to retreat from its new hiding spot to the place whence it had come. The cat, heading south to the new hiding spot, passed the mouse heading north, and now turned in time to cut it off from another session under the hutch.
On the way, the prey paused and found another refuge, underneath the hair on the tummy of the sleeping dog. Susie must have thought the mouse vanished like Harry Lime, in the sewers of Vienna, for she couldn't find it anywhere. The dog did not seem to mind her guest and dozed on until I prodded her and she moved. This stirring rocked the mouse's world and off it went again.
With cat in hot pursuit, the mouse crawled into the tracks of the sliding door that separates the house from the sun deck. It jumped out and made a dash for the trash can by the corner of the drain board. I sprang to life, but, without a broom, had only the shoe, which I heaved at it, just missing, and also just missing the cat.
A final dash brought the rodent to an opening under the drain board where it disappeared from view. The cat took up a vigil, while the rest of us, exhausted from the chase, decided to call it a night.
This is the second time in two weeks that Susie has failed as a hunter. She is in a slump, which seems to have coincided with our efforts, at the suggestion of her vet, to keep down her food consumption.
The mice, the gatherers of this tale, are winning. Instead of returning to their nests and crying out, "Who are those guys?” now they break into song. I could hear them as I tried to go to sleep:
"Adios muchachos companeros de mi vida".
This was written 12/28/2000. Shortly thereafter edema returned to my wife's legs and her downward spiral began. Today I can smile at reading the piece again, but for too long it only reminded me of the missing. She was ambivalent about my writing, but this effort she loved.