the proof is in the pudding

It was a lovely house to enter once the cold days came. The rooms, although clean, were not too clean; they were also large and airy and warm. The house had an especially wonderful basement, most of which was taken up by a large bedroom and laundry room, but there was also a storage area that rarely had visitors. The mice had plenty of room down in that basement, and an abundance of possibilities there to fulfill their simple yet necessary wants and wishes. They soon settled and thrived in the dark corners. In time they discovered the best place for bedding was the laundry room; dryer lint was soft and gently scented and even looked like mouse fur. There were many long passageways behind shelves and boxes to run and play, and soon it was apparent that the best foods to be had were left on the floors, especially underneath the boys’ beds.

However, the mice were not safe anywhere in that house. The family itself was large, the father had a pathological horror of mice and an unmatched determination to kill on sight, and there were four cats to keep aware of at all times. These four cats were sleek and well fed, but none could resist the sight of a mouse. Too often a mouse was killed and eaten by a cat, and once only a head was left on the floor which, when stepped on absentmindedly by one of the boys, looked just like a flattened mold-covered strawberry in the midst of its own red juice. Mother bent down to pick it up, after the door had slammed shut behind the last child for school, but when she realized what it really was, she quickly threw it out the front door and rushed to the bathroom, looking at her mouse-wet and bloody fingertips, and gagging.

The latest loss occurred last weekend when a full grown brown mouse unwisely ventured from the basement and up to the kitchen. He was the deadly triune combination of bored, hungry, and alone. After a while, he found a crust of pizza underneath Mother’s fiestaware hutch. He felt safe under there amongst the dust and dirt, small toys and bits of garbage, twigs and ping pong balls. The crust was hard and rock-like and it felt good to work his strong jaw and sharp teeth up and down, scratching and breaking bits to chew and eat.

From across the room, a large orange tomcat lifted up his head. He had been napping soundly for hours but a small noice and strong smell of mouse had lifted him from dream-land. He yawned and stretched. He stood and stretched again. Mr Brown Mouse was only aware of the cat when he was startled from his next bite of pizza by the thud of four cat feet.

Mother was busy and rarely noticed mice. She would smell a dead one in the walls now and then, which would cause her to perform cleaning frenzies and motivational speeches to her husband (speeches of which, as of this writing, have not worked their magic). However, she always and always noticed her precious kitty-babies. She saw her precious cat with an “I see something very exciting” look in his eyes, and she bent down beside him to look underneath the hutch. Sure enough, tucked into the very corner of the hot water base board heating, was a mouse. She got down on her stomach and called for her daughter. They both decided to try to save it from the cat, Mother by grabbing it with metal tongs, and daughter, by turning it into a pet.

Unfortunately, the tongs didn’t work and the mouse got away. Mother, Daughter, and Cat ran around trying to figure out where it had gone but soon gave up. Mother immediately became full of the urge to clean and scrub. Oh yes, a cleaning frenzy would calm her nerves in no time and she had seen all the dirt underneath her hutch of favorite dishes. She gathered her supplies and set to work, swept the floor underneath the hutch, wiped down the walls, washed off the top of it, and then lastly, vacuumed thoroughly. The hutch was heavy so she didn’t have much room to work so she pulled the attachment and reached blindly around as far as she could reach, bending down to be sure to get all the nooks and crannies. Her progress was stopped when she heard the sound of something flying through the tube. She held her breath but within that fraction of a second, the object passed completely through, ending within the bagless canister. She turned the vacuum off and said, “I really can’t believe that didn’t get stuck, ping pong balls always do.” It was truly a “Praise the Lord” moment for her, as ping pong balls are extremely frustrating to get out of the middle of a vacuum tube. Whatever this was, it had rushed through almost like it was made just for that purpose.

She unhooked the canister to take it outside. And what do you think Mother saw? Yes, it was Mr Brown Mouse, now in an alarming state, tail and legs in the wrong places at wrong angles, body and head twisted and bunched with all the other unwanted items; floor dirt and hair, legos, pizza crust, and strings. She lifted him by the tail, and he was still breathing, but after throwing him over the porch railing into the garden, his breathing slowed and eventually stopped. He is resting in peace underneath the shrubbery after escaping from a cat, but falling prey to a determined housewife with a vacuum.

******

Mother just came in and saw my story. She said she “just knows the men and women who read this will want to know that it was a Shark vacuum cleaner”, and because its powerful suction caused the death of a mouse just by its sheer force, she will never buy another brand again.

checking for signs of life
RIP

5 thoughts on “the proof is in the pudding

  1. This is a well-crafted story. I enjoyed reading it.  I felt sad reading
    how the mouse died. 😦 I hate to see any creature suffer.

    You really should think about writing a children’s book, because I think
    you have a gift. Hopefully it would be one where the main animal
    character doesn’t die. :-/

  2. haha! I once caught a mouse under a clear pyrex bowl and let him go at the neighbours’. Now we have those plug-in silent-to-human noise makers to keep mice away, they no longer inhabit our house. I do not know however if cats can hear those things and might be offended by them.

  3. Some years ago when my kids were small our dishwasher started malfunctioning. There was an ominous repeated thud on the drying cycle. We called out the dishwasher engineer who took it apart and found a mummified mouse in the heating element. The engineer told us that it was fairly common – the mouse climbs into a warm spot full of comforting lint not realising that it is not a place of safety but rather a place of certain death. I decided to ‘entertain’ the kids by giving the mouse a similar treatment to the shark immortalised by the artist Damien Hirst. I bought some of that clear resin treatment that crafters use to make paper weights and immersed the mummified mouse in it. To this day we still have our ‘mouse paper weight’. My kids went through a stage of being appalled that their mother could do such a thing, but now in their 20s they think its funny and represents something of their very craft orientated upbringing!

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