03 May 2010

Of Mice and Women

My wife is one of the most stable people I know- practical, incredibly intelligent, not prone to getting freaking out in a crisis, in short, everything that is a good counter-balance to me. So, it was with some concern that I walked in the door a few days back and was met with a stammering mess. "What's wrong ?" I rushed in the door as I saw the look on her face. My mind raced- fire, somebody in the family is sick, somebody died, nuclear attack warning on the television ?

"Mouse !" she cried, "the cat was playing with a mouse."

For some reason, my otherwise stable wife has a deep primordial fear of rodents. Nothing can set her off like the appearance of one of these otherwise harmless little creatures. We're not talking nasty NYC city 20 pound sewer rats- we're talking about the cute little field mouse variety.

My wife pointed into the living room where our youngest, and biggest, cat Whiskers was patrolling the room. Whiskers is a big Maine coon that we picked up in Maine a few years back. Although he leads most of his life in a sedentary haze, when mice make their appearance he suddenly decides it's time to earn his keep. "Where is he ?" I asked the cat, apparently forgetting he's not a dog or any other creature that would care what his owner had to say when I spotted a lump of fur on the carpet. I bent down and picked up a piece of mouse about the size of a large marble- it looked like hamburger with some tufts of hair and a small bone protruding from the side.

"Here's a piece of it, Whiskies must have winged him" I said helpfully to my wife. She looked ashen. "It must have crawled away, oh my God it's injured and it's going to crawl off to do or maybe into our bed...." I stopped her short. "Don't worry, it couldn't have gone far and I'll find it." Whiskers was licking his massive paws, looking completely unconcerned that a wounded, bleeding mouse missing a large proportion of its rib cage was at this moment crawling around the house.

For the next 45 minutes I checked every room in the house, used a flashlight to check every nook and cranny where it could have crawled off to. I told my wife I couldn't find it, she said keep trying, so I kept looking. Finally, I told her it probably crawled off to die outside using the same path it used to get inside. That seemed to mollify her and she went back into the basement.

A few seconds later after offering my hypothesis, it became obvious why the cat was unconcerned about the location of the mouse since he know all along where it was. I noticed Whiskers making all the motions of a cat about to hurl a hairball and then out it came- the mouse. It actually hit the floor as a mass of blood and fur with it's four little paws splayed out to the side and the tail sticking to the rear, appearing like a high diver that jumped into a pool with no water.

"Found it !" I gleefully yelled to the wife.

The cat, none the worse for wear, immediately started rubbing my leg. It was dinner time after all.

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