Everyday Life, Fiction

Episode 18 – A Mouse Story

We have a mouse problem at work. Somebody from the daycare saw the mouse and chased it into a storage room. Well, it probably ran there on its own. Yesterday the lady who runs the daycare told me she found more evidence—mouse droppings.

If there is something that wears me down it is mice. I like things clean and tidy. How can you ever get rid of mice?

Fear of mice is probably not hereditary but if it was it would explain why I’ve shared exactly the same sentiments towards mice as my mom. Mice are her nemesis.

A few weeks ago I got a male staff member to set up a trap in the storage room but he hasn’t caught the mouse. Knowing mice, there is more than one. Like files and mosquitos and spiders. There is never only one.

On the subject of rodents, my Uncle Lester told me the story of the weasel they have in their house. Uncle Zac was over and said he saw a weasel in their living room, running behind the wood stove, but Lester didn’t believe it.

“Yeah, I saw it ran past the door and then around the chair and behind the stove,” Zac told him.

“You know, I didn’t believe the guy. I thought he was pulling my leg, but sure enough, we have a weasel.” Uncle Lester then hung a piece of meat from the patio awning to lure the weasel. The next day the meat had disappeared. The string had been chewed right off. Lester did it again and this time he saw the weasel, eating the piece of meat.

Uncle Lester was telling the story while we sat in my mom’s living room and somewhere in the middle of the tale Denny got up from his chair, waved to Uncle Lester and left. Awhile later Lester asked where Denny was and I told him he had gone to visit his folks. Uncle Lester got a strange expression on his face. I explained that Denny hadn’t seen his parents since we arrived in Manitoba yesterday for Christmas with the family.

“Aren’t you going?” my aunt asked me.

“We’re going there tomorrow.”

I wouldn’t miss Lester’s stories. They mesmerize me. I realized that the secret to his sucess was that he was more engrossed in his story than his listeners.

It was all in the details. Detail as he described the weasel’s tail, his little ears, the expression in his eyes—how smart he looked. Everything I tend to leave out when I tell stories.

“Weasels are nice clean animals. They don’t leave a mess, like mice,” he continued, his voice full of expression, his eyes bright with excitement.

I am thinking about the weasel that killed my mom’s chickens. When I was young my mom would buy chicks in the Spring and raise them. One year a weasel snuck into the garage-turned-chicken-shed and the next morning my mom found all of her medium sized chickens piled in a heap, dead. I didn’t want to spoil Lester’s story so I didn’t tell him this. In any case, it doesn’t seem that Lester thinks the weasel is a menace.

Denny is good at setting mouse traps. I trained him. A trap needs to be tested after it is set. At first Denny’s traps didn’t go off. He got the idea to test them by touching them with a stick. Once Denny figured out what needed to happen, he studied and practiced until he got it. That’s what Denny does. Now I’m thinking I may need to schedule him to come to my work to deal with the mice.

I’ve decided that my fear of mice is not hereditary because I have mostly overcome it. Indonesia cured me. After all, I was able to sleep when I saw a rat disappear behind the top bunk where our son slept in the cabin of a ship we travelled in to get to our island. And in a hospital where I stayed with one of our boys I watched a mouse running back and forth along the edge of the room in the dim of night. I had to tell myself there was only one.

I also remained calm while I sat at the dinner table in a home where mice scampered along the countertop in the shadows of the kitchen. Once a rat ran across my legs three times as I lay on the floor trying to sleep in a home we visited in the mountains. It was a miracle that I slept that night.

But I had my limits. I was washing dishes, one late afternoon, when a very pregnant mouse ran part-way up the rough brick wall beside an open window in front of me. It got half-way up and fell down and gave up, and scurried away across the the counter and disappeared. It might have been ninety-five degrees but I got the shivers.

Denny didn’t think I needed a screen for the window, when I pleaded with him. We didn’t have glass on the windows, just bars. I didn’t want any more surprises. It made no sense to Denny why one window should have a screen when there were two other larger windows with no screens.

Someone must have overheard our conversation. The next week I had a newly framed window with a screen. There is a certain student in the college where we taught who will always have a special place in my heart.

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