It was 10 PM when I sat at my kitchen table, just home from a delightful concert at the Kennedy Center, having a late night snack with a good glass of wine. Suddenly, I had company. A mouse trotted by, lifting its nose, saying “Hello” in its funny mouse way. Shoot! It’s this time of the year again. It’s getting cold outside, and the tricky migrants sneak in, through invisible holes, fissures and garage doors. Well, it’s only one I thought. I called him Max, thinking it was a “he.”
Next evening I sat down again at the kitchen table, watching the late-night news while sipping from a night cap, and this time, handsome Max came by with a friend I named Maxie. Same greeting. Even their tails wagged.
“Anything to eat?” was the clear meaning in their eyes. I always make sure the floor is bereft of crumbs, so I could understand their frustration. Feeling good, I shared two pieces of real Dutch cheese. For American mice, this must have been an exceptional treat, because they scurried away with it into a corner so fast I could hardly follow them. That made me curious. I noticed a tiny open space between a wall and a molding on the freshly installed parquet flooring.
I figured they had taken shelter in an adjacent storage room underneath the kitchen, which is my wife’s safe-space area I am not allowed to enter. Since I am a coward, I did not mention it to her.
It was a foggy Saturday. I lit the fireplace downstairs in the rec-room, put on Brahm’s piano concerto #2, and sat down with a warm cup of tea. Unwittingly, I glanced at the basket where I keep old newspapers (mostly The Washington Post I don’t read anymore for obvious reasons). To my surprise, I saw Max’s and Maxie’s whole family snugly ensconced in snips of paper, snoozing or fast asleep. They seemed to like the music.
This got me a little bit concerned. I admitted that I had a nice warm house and understood the plight of mice in the cold. But they seemed overly content, making babies by the dozens which had all to be fed. From what? I explored the basement, which is another area my wife designates as storage room and inspected the laundry space. I found chunks of wool which seemed to be pulled from a cushion. Low and behold, the remnants led me to a half-open cupboard where a bag of rice was torn with snippets all over the place. Max and Maxie had taken over this second storage room as well. A further inspection took me to the garage, which is full of carton boxes with wooly Christmas dolls. It turned out Maxie’s breeding house.
So I was obliged to inform the Missus of the mice invasion. “What!” And then a whole speech of why I didn’t tell her before, didn’t I have any sense of East West Home Best, all the diseases they bring in, the damage they do to the house, especially your antique heirloom furniture, etcetera, etcetera. I was ordered to call a pest removal service on the double. Well, that’s not easy on a Saturday. Going back to the fireplace to finish my tea, Max and Maxie and their children and relatives had gone into hiding because of the loud exchange of views. No wonder. Words about deportation from their newfound habitat had scared the hell out of them.
The Pest service rang the bell.
I looked at the guy and asked if they hadn’t forgotten to put the “M” in front of the “ICE” on his shirt.
“Huh?” was the answer.
I opened the garage and pointed to the temporary headquarters of Max and Maxie. “Where are you going to taken them?” I asked.
“Huh?” the agent said.
“I mean, what are you going to do with them?”
“You don’t want them in your house, do you?” he said, looking at me as if I were the dumbest idiot he’d ever met. I probably was.
“No worry. We’ll take them across the street where they came from. Over there,” he said, pointing to the row of houses. “There, they gave them poisonous food. You, I understand, gave them Dutch cheese, that’s what your missus said. Blows my mind.”
“Well, there’s this thing of compassion, you know.” I knew the argument wouldn’t stick.
“Compassion?” he scowled. “Do you think they’ll feel compassion for you once they’ve taken over your place?”
“So what do I do if they try to come back again?” I got really upset with the idea of having to sleep with mice crawling through my house and occupying the bathrooms when I needed to go.
“Build a barbed wired wall around your house, okay? We can do that for you!”
I retreated from the garage and let the MICE PATROL do their work. Max and Maxie left with their siblings and offspring under loud protest.
I wasn’t around to hear it. We built the wall and lived happily ever after.
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