I’m ashamed to admit I didn’t notice it when I first got home. It had been a busy morning at the office and all I had on my mind was getting home to some lunch. I came straight through the door and headed to the refrigerator. I did note that the house was unusually quiet. I should have known that there was guilt in the air.
After eating lunch, I made my way through the rest of the house. I was organizing a plan on the afternoon’s activities. Should I clean house? Walk the dogs? Write? All plans were haulted when I noticed the body laying lifelessly on the floor.
I walked over and nudged the corpse. “Are you really dead?” Nudge, nudge. Nudge, nudge. I felt for a pulse. Even before I Iocated its absence, I could tell that death had set in with the coldness of the body. Now, who the hell did it? Who killed this little field mouse.
Shamooki, the geriatric pet of the house, has never been a mouse killer in all of her ten years. Though that cat loves the taste of human flesh, she simply yawns and grooms herself in the presence of rodents. Take the time to kill a mouse, yeah right. When discussing mice, friends have always said, ‘but you have that cat.” Ha, that cat. No help in that department.
Ratchet, who is approaching two years old, has never caught a mouse to my knowledge. I had my hopes though when he moved in late May that he would indeed be in charge of pest control. He’s young and quick, an expert at catching my hair ties and smuggling them off to a secret location unknown to anyone but him. As winter progressed though, I never found any evidence of mouse hunting out of this new resident.
I picked up the poor field mouse by his tail and proceeded to the trashcan. On the way there, I thought that maybe I shouldn’t pass up this opportunity to discuss what had happened with the cats and try to express appreciation for the service that had been provided. I found both cats lazily napping in the mudroom. Not the image of a hitman at all. First, I approached Ratchet.
“Um, Ratchet. Do you know what happened to this mouse?” He gave me a smug look of confidence or maybe that of confusion why I was toting around a dead mouse. “Ratchet, I would like to thank you if you were responsible for this. You have provided the house with a service it has long needed. Even though we don’t have a true mouse problem per se, it is good to have someone on the front lines preventing said problem from occurring.”
Smug look continued. I thanked him again and moved on.
“Shamooki. I know you aren’t much into mouse killing, but I would like to address this situation with you in the event you were responsible for it. I’m glad that you stepped up to the plate and took on an important chore of the household. If it was you, of course. I’m not sure what has changed your mind. Thank you all the same.”
She curled up in a ball and went back to sleep.
Then a bit off behind me, I heard the shivering of nervous toenails on the wood floor. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. It may have not been the sound of admitted wrong doing but at least the sound of self-condemnation.
“Presleigh, do you know something about this?”
Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick, tick. Her head goes down and she studies the cracks on the floor. Tick, tick, tick, tick, tick.
“You’ve got to be kidding me. Apparently, I can’t rely on the cats for mouse killing. I guess when you breed a rat terrier to a chihuahua, you get a mouse terrier.”
I disposed the little body into the trashcan and asked that next lifetime he stayed far away from houses where he was safe or at least could be eaten by a hawk. The guilty little mouse terrier ran off into the living room and buried herself under her blankets, obviously still sorting out some mixed feelings of the morning’s events.