It’s happened once before, so I wasn’t entirely taken aback. I was watching television in the living room, thought I heard a little scuffling noise, and hit the “mute” button to listen more closely. A little more scraping, and then a plop. The plop got me to my feet because I knew exactly what was happening. A mouse had found its way into the ceiling fan and fell out onto the papers on my desk. Ok, I admit to being pretty horrified, although, as I said, it has happened before. I gingerly moved papers around on the desk, trying to get the culprit to move or squeak so I could smash it with a heavy book (it pains me to use great literature in such a fashion, but I didn’t have any other weapons handy). I found it, it moved, I smashed . . . again, and again, and again. The itty bitty, apparently immortal mouse took note of the dire situation and leaped from the desk to a better hiding place under the china hutch. I screamed, of course, in this whole process, but the quiet snoring from the bedroom told me that I was on my own in this battle. I considered my possibilities: I could take a broom handle and slide it around under the hutch until the mouse reappeared, whereupon I could try “booking” it to death again; I could search for the electronic fly swatter and try to zap the little creature (of course, a dead mouse under a heavy, full china hutch seemed like a dismal outcome), or I could just go to bed in the knowledge that our dachshund Clyde, who had caught a mouse the other day, would most likely find and dispatch it in the morning. It was 10:30 p.m. I was tired. With a little shiver of revulsion, I took option number three and went to bed.
I was just drifting off when I heard a ruckus. “Can you describe the ruckus, sir?” (That well-known line from “The Breakfast Club” popped to mind.) Well, yes, I can. It sounded exactly like a small wiener dog, having been awakened from a sound sleep, leaping out of his kennel and, with much scrabbling of claws on the carpet, cornering a mouse somewhere in the bedroom. I sat up, put my feet over the side of the bed and encountered warm fur, which made me gasp and recoil, reaching for the light. I realized right away that it was Clyde underfoot . . . well, his body, anyway; his head was jammed under the nightstand, his tail was beating a double-time tattoo on the wall. Clearly, the dog was in the middle of a mouse hunt. He pulled his head out long enough to look to me for support. “Sure, Clyde. Let’s get us a mousie.” I sighed and went for the broom.
On my knees, poking under the night stand with the broom seemed to have the desired effect, if I could judge by Clyde, who dove under the bed and made more scrabbling sounds. Chris rose up in bed at this point and looked at me blearily.
“Aw, did you fall down? Are you o.k.?” He asked.
I opened my mouth to answer and let out a scream as the mouse made a mad dash toward me. Now I had friend husband’s undivided and less groggy attention. I explained about the mouse as I tried to ply my broom behind the door. “Here, Clyde,” I said. “He’s right behind the door. See?” Clyde appeared to be having second thoughts about midnight mouse hunting; he peeked at me from behind the bed. The mouse, sensing the indecision, scooted under the dresser and Clyde leaped into action again, nose to the gap under the dresser, more tail-wagging and snuffling. Chris was offering advice from his cozy vantage point, but seemed reluctant to join the madness. I tried the brush end of the broom under the dresser, came away with some truly remarkable dust bunnies, but no mousie. Clyde seemed to give up at that point, and sat quietly by the bed while Chris got up to go to the bathroom. I climbed back into bed, hoping that Chris would think of some great plan or at least offer to take me to a motel for the night.
There was another scuffle out in the hallway, some incredibly gross crunching noises (you think you might know what a mouse skull in the mouth of a dog would sound like, but it turns out you really have no idea, and once heard, you can never unhear it). Chris called from the bathroom, “I think Clyde took care of it.” I peered down the hall, and yes, there was a tiny corpse just a few feet from the bedroom. The mighty hunter had retreated deep into his kennel, gazing out at me with wide, shining eyes. I knew that Chris would handle the interment, so I climbed back into bed. Minutes later, Chris joined me. We lay there quietly, trying to get into our sleep rhythm breathing again.
“Where did you put the body?” I asked.
“Tossed outside,” my sleepy husband answered. I hoped it would serve as a warning to other mice that want to move in. We were quiet again, for a long, long time, and then I couldn’t help myself.
“Was it merely dead, or most sincerely dead?” I asked.
“Most sincerely,” the coroner replied; then he rolled over and began snoring.