Around dinner time tonight, I opened the back door to find my Stewie kitten huddled against the stoop with something furry in his mouth. I was pretty sure he had a mouse in his mouth but before I could make a plan to snatch it from him, he scurried past me and flew into the darkness of the den. My greatest hope was that the rodent was dead. I admit I’m skittish; it’s the element of surprise that drives me insane. The mouse would escape Stewie’s clutches, lay low, and then dart out the minute I bent down to look for it. It would probably end up tangled in my hair, desperately clawing to get free. I would pass out, and it would have its way with me, chewing on my fingers and toes. My first thought was to be proactive. I would tiptoe into the den and poke around a bit, tempt Stewie out with a treat. Then I realized that dead or alive, the mouse was more attractive to Stewie than anything I had to offer. Besides, what would I do if the little grey thing was breathing?
Last summer, the cats managed to get in the house with a live bird, and I really thought I was going to have to dial 911 for an ambulance, for me. Loki dashed into the house with the wren fluttering in his mouth and dove through the cat door into the mud room. After considerable silence, I was certain it had perished in his jaws. I was certain. Of course, the minute I opened the door, the cat’s mouth released the bird, and it went tearing around the tiny room, bouncing off the window, somersaulting, its wings flapping furiously. I ran to my bedroom and slammed the door. I had to rest in bed for a good thirty minutes until my blood pressure went back to normal.
I do hold reverence for all of the great creator’s creatures, but why do so many of them end up in small, inescapable places with me? I believe it is karma. When I was ten, I found a bicycle tire tube that had clearly been exposed to the elements for quite some time. It was especially limp from the summer sun beating on it and covered with interesting light greenish-grey patterns. I picked it up and took it home. Coming up the stairs, I saw my mother ironing. Before she knew I was standing beside her, I held up the tire and said, “Hey, I found a big ol’ snake.” The iron flew out of my mother’s hands and hit the floor about the same time my mother kicked over the ironing board as she back pedaled to get away from the tire tube. Luckily, my mother had a sense of humor and laughed when she realized the snake was a tire tube, but I felt bad that I had frightened her.
It’s time for bed, and I’ve forgiven Stewie. I found the mouse, dead. I felt a little sorry for it. It took every bit of strength for me to sweep it out the back door; even though only the broom touched it, I really thought I could feel its sleek wet fur on my fingertips. Stewie was disgusted with me for disposing of his kill. He begged to go out in the snow to play with it, and I let him. Eventually, he became bored with the little corpse and scratched to come back in. When I opened the door, all I could see of the mouse was its tiny reptilian-like tail sticking out from the stoop. I laughed at myself for just a second, and it felt good.