It's not about the house.

Thursday, April 5, 2007


Cats go crazy at night, that’s what they do. So I didn’t think much of it when Girl Cat tore across the bed and woke me up from a sound sleep at three a.m You get used to these things. Those of you without cats – or kids, I guess, or dogs or husbands – might not understand, but it happens. You learn to just roll over.

But Sister tore and tore and tore: up on the bed and under it, out to the kitchen and back again, round and round in circles in the corner of the room. “Hey,” I thought to her in my half-sleep, “that’s enough already…”

And then I heard the little squeak.

Well, cats chase mice, that’s what they do. I’m not one of these save-it-save-it-save-it! folks – not since I turned twelve, at least. I don’t hate mice. I really don’t even that much mind mice. I mean, I wouldn’t want my house overrun with them or anything; I wouldn’t want their poopies in my corn flakes every morning. But they don’t bother me as much as, oh, say, spiders.

When we first moved in this house it had been vacant for six months. The mice months, too: October through April. There were windows missing in the basement, a crawl space open to where the bulkhead used to be (a long story I’ll get into some other time), and food left in the cupboards. Weird food – nothing I’d eat – but calories nonetheless. And yet there were no mice. Spiders galore, but not a single mouse. Or not a single mouse poop, anyway, and for two and a half years no squeaking in the night.

We found this odd. Disturbing, actually. Frightening, in fact. What's wrong with this house, we thought, that it could stand wide-open, empty, and heated – with food in the freakin' cupboards – and still the mice won’t come? Well, that became one of those la-la moments, where you just decide not to think about it and move on. La la…

Meanwhile, in the dark last night: more tearing, tearing, tearing, and then another squeak. Only not really. This one, at the top of its tiny little lungs, went more like:


Whoops. So much for Mickey. Well, that’s what cats do. Cats kill mice. At least now I could go back to sleep.

These beasts of ours (we have two. They have names but they don’t use them except at the vet's: we just call them Boy and Girl, or Brother and Sister) – anyway, these beasts of ours are champion mousers. The apartments we’ve occupied have given them plenty of practice, and He was always best. He’d sit for hours staring at a hole (literally, for hours: his record – in the Southie hole – was overnight) just waiting for that half-second lunge when the poor wee thing would stick its sniffer out. But since we moved to mouseless here, He’s gotten lazy. And fat. And now She is the Mouse King – or Queen, if Tchaikovsky will forgive me.

The first mouse we found here was laid out under the Christmas tree this past December, right next to the Nativity, like a gift from some alternate magi-cat universe. We knew it was from Her, because She’s always been a keeper.

In the old place She had stashes. Under the bed, behind the door – places you don’t always look. Until you do, and then you’d see six or eight dead mice collected there and you'd know why She'd been in and out of the back room so many times. See, in addition to keeping her collections, She likes to visit them as well. So every time I’d clean out the latest disgusting stash, I couldn’t help but sit and wait for her to drop by for a look-see. She’d go in, find nothing, and come back out shooting me such a “drop dead” look that I that I just had to feel bad for having flushed her store of rotting, smelling, teeny little corpses.

So the first thing I did when I woke up this morning was to search the bedroom. Where’d you put ’im, Sister? Under the bed? Nope. Behind the door? Nope. In the bathroom? In the closet? Under the radiator? Nope, nope, nope.

Hm. Maybe she didn’t kill him after all. Maybe they just had their little chase and then he got away. I have to admit that after this thought I couldn’t stop myself from adding “Good for you, wee tiny Mouse!”

But then I saw the spot.

I was just starting my workout on the floor when I saw a small red circle, just about the size and color of – oh my god, a drop of blood. Dead mice you find under the bed don’t usually bleed! They usually, I think, have little mouse-sized heart attacks and just keel over, peaceful-like. You pick them up and flush them and ta-da. Blood, though. A bleeding mouse? That’s heart-wrenching.

And there was more. It was a gorefest down there now that I was looking. The first drop I’d seen was the only round one, the rest were teardrop-shaped – in other words: mouse-running-away-shaped. I could just picture the denouement that had occurred at the foot of my bed while I was thinking mean thoughts about the noise. I felt bad, until I saw the blood-drop on my bed, and then I stopped thinking anything at all.

La la la, pretty pretty kitty, Sister is so smart, la la la…

I got a sponge and wiped the crime scene clean – except the comforter, which will need professional attention. And when I was finished with the wiping, and had gotten over the discomfort, I decided to commence that workout after all. But when I unfolded my mat, I found a little long-grain poopie in it. Presumably his last.



Georgetown House said...

Ummm... ewwwww!

But I'm with you -- much better a bunch of dead mice and a contented cat than a bunch of live ones.

Now if my allergies would only agree with that statements.

MP said...

Now I am screaming laughing... And knowing you, the comment about "say, spiders" made me recall the the day you and Bob took out some poor lady's mailbox with his car evading a spider in the car!!!

dstaf said...

oh my god, this made me roar! Poopies in your cornflakes...