Of Mice and Men

Of Mice and Men

When our daughter was twelve we bought a five-year-old horse. She was responsible for his care and maintenance. Her day would begin in the barn and her duties continued after school. She rode competitively and enjoyed many hours at horse shows and in barns.

Now, what I DIDN’T do was the math. The horse was five and she was twelve. Horses live to be twenty-five years old and, if that were to be true in this case, our daughter would be thirty-two. HOLD IT NOW, she will be long gone by that age. Who will be looking after the horse?

After she finished high school she was off to Switzerland on a year-long Rotary exchange. The horse was now eleven. Following that year, she was off to university. The horse was now twelve. Guess who ended up looking after the horse?

Like I said, I failed to do the math.

One morning, about six years ago, I was following my usual routine which would see me arriving at school by 7:00. This meant that I needed to be up by 6:00. By 6:30 I had eaten and was in my school clothes. I had my tie around my neck but I had yet to knot it. My barn boots were on and I was heading up to feed the horse. I waved to my wife as she drove down the driveway on her way to work. I entered the barn, filled the water bucket and gave the horse his feed. I pulled a fresh bale of hay down from the pile and gave him his ration. I returned to the house.

To arrive at school by my usual time I needed to be on the road by 6:45. My schedule was unfolding as it should when I found myself back in the bedroom, in front of the mirror and knotting my tie.

Now, do you know that feeling you have when a tag has been left on the inside of your shirt? Well, I was experiencing that very feeling, but it was coming from my right shoulder-blade. I turned to see if the reflection in the mirror would give me a hint. There, just beneath my shoulder, was a mouse also starring the mirror. For a brief moment our reflected eyes met.

Looking back, I realize that I should have calmly walked outside and shooed him off in the yard, but that wasn’t my first instinct. My left arm came up and I quickly hit him off my shoulder. He hit the floor and was off. It was then I realized the error of my ways.

The mouse ran into my wife’s closet. Who knew that there could be so many shoes in such a small space. I started shaking footwear in search of the critter. When I finally picked the shoe in which he was hiding, he leapt out and was off to the other side of the room.

At this point I realized that I was going to be arriving at work later than I had planned. I had activities to set up and coffee to prepare. I so did not want to devote any more time chasing this mouse. I spent a few more minutes looking and then decided to go to plan B.

I left the bedroom in search of Norm. He was the biggest and seemingly hungriest cat of the three we had – he loved to eat. I carried him to the bedroom, put a litter box inside along with some water. “Have at it, Norm”, I said as I left for work.

I was the first to arrive home later that day. I looked in the bedroom hoping to see bits of mouse fur and tiny entrails – no luck. Norm looked at me but made no attempt to leave the room. I guess he knew he was still on duty. I left the room and closed the door.

When my wife arrived home from work, I told her the story. I followed her down the hallway to the bedroom and we entered. Norm was sitting near the middle of the room. He looked at us briefly then turned his attention to the corner of the room nearest my wife’s dresser. He kept staring.

We moved the dresser away from the wall and looked down. Norm moved in closer. Against the wall was a partial roll of wrapping paper that had obviously fallen down at some point. As we scanned the area a tiny face appeared out of one end of the roll.

At his point I thought Norm should be rewarded for a day’s duty of standing guard. My wife thought otherwise. I was given the task of carrying the tube outside and releasing the animal.

But now that he knows how nice it is in here, he’ll be back.”

We have cats. He won’t be back.”

As I made my way through the house with gift wrapping tube in hand, Norm jogged behind me in anticipation of a snack. I felt a little bad leaving him in the house.

I released the little guy and he scurried off.

I wonder if his buddies believed him when he gave an account of his day.

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