Category Archives: True Tales

Cat Tales: The Mystery of Glass

My mother was a rescuer of animals, specifically cats, though she also saved dogs, birds, anything but rats. The word was, is important because she, my mother left this world back in 1988 at the age of 49. One of the things I remember throughout the years I shared with her was that she would rescue stray cats from the harsh realities of the outside world. Mom always looked at Cats as though they were Cats. They weren’t her babies or her Cat People. I guess it could be said that she had respect for the inner catness. As a child in this household I spent my first years surrounded by cats that were older than I was which at the time and in retrospect left a peculiar feeling with in me. Now cats live in our world, at least the domesticated ones and they seem to have an ability to relate to the big goofy humans in their environment. For my own sake as a growing child I realized that though cats were terrestrial they were also alien. I spent some considerable time watching them for in the simplest sense cats are more entertaining than television.

One of the cats Mom had adopted (Rescued from the street) was a small dirty white and brown female the She had named Ms. Fist or Fisty.  Regardless of what common popular culture may believe this name implies, it is actually a play on one of the many names for the Devil.  Scratch, Hobbs, Old Hobbs, Mr. Fist are all names for roughly the same place in time, back when there was still a culture in the western world.  Ms. Fist’s first litter, (surprise surprise), came very late that following winter or early spring.  There was one male and five females, brother and sisters if you will.  Now my brothers and I thought the Darth Vader would be a good name for the male and that should give you a good idea about when this all took place.  Mom on the other hand didn’t feel that Darth suited this particular cat and being that Mom had the only veto power in the house at that time, she chose the name, Twerp.  Twerp or Twerpy seemed an all around poor name and I looked at the unsuspecting cat feeling what only a boy could feel about such naming misfortune.  But it would become obvious by that summer that my mother was something of a prophet.

As early Spring became late spring Ms. Fist or Fisty, Being the representative of Satan in the neighborhood left her kittens, not yet weened, with the old family mutt Pooch or Poochie.  Pooch was a grey muzzled mostly Bull Terrier, Dashund and god only knows what else mix, who spent most of his time escaping from the backyard.  This may seem strange but Pooch, as far as I can tell, liked baby sitting six Kittens whose legs were strong enough to wander though they never went far from the old dog.  Ms. Fist would show up now and again to make sure that babies got feed but like any mother of six, she preferred to be elsewhere.  I’ll come back to this later.

The Kittens, under Pooch’s watchful eye and with Mom’s help pretty much weened themselves and my mid summer were pretty much grown and free range cats.  Now I can’t say when this first happened, I can only relate the first time I saw it happen.  It was after my birthday so it would have been later in July.  I was sitting in the living room one summer day watching television, before cable, sort of in my own thoughts.  I was in my father’s chair with my feet up on the ottoman when for some reason I looked to my left down the long hall to the front door.  It was a warm bright day so the door had been left open.  The bright outside could be seen through the lower glass pane in the storm door.  That pane was always hard to keep clean between the mud of winter and the buggy grit of summer and in no way would I describe it as like crystal.  In the hall a few feet from the door sat Twerp looking out studying the outside.  There is this thing with cats that under general circumstances you can never really tell what it is thinking or planning.  To me it just appeared that Twerp was looking outside then sort of drifting off looking at the floor and wasn’t planning anything in particular.

The cat, Twerp, Jumped, much to my surprise, head first into the window, hard.  Glass and skull, cat skull to be specific, make a strange tinny sound when they collide.  The Cat fell back to the floor and ran up the front stairs and out of sight.  I figured that Twerp had encountered the mystery of glass and learned the same lesson that many of us do and that should be that. He had his first class in the school of hard knocks and I was sure he had passed.  I was wrong.  With in a fortnight, I was in the Kitchen and it was again a bright warm day so that the door was open leaving only the storm between us and the outside and again the bottom pane of the storm was glass.  The screen was in the top pane to let the fresh air in.  I was siting at the kitchen table secretly snacking on Dad’s treats that he took  for his lunch break at work and there again was Twerp.  He was again studying the outside through the glass pane.  What’s to think, I was just looking at the cat then SMACK!

He jumped, his head hit the glass and he dropped to the floor though this time he landed on his feet.  He must have been practicing.  To say I was surprised would be an understatement, I was stunned, my attention riveted on the cat.  Twerp’s ears fluttered between flat and fully upright as he circled looking outside, eyes narrow.  If I were to guess what he was thinking or feeling I would put it somewhere between mad and confused as if he were the victim of a truly sick joke.  He circled, walked away, walked back to the door, looked out side, smelled the fresh air, eyes narrow and ears fluttering the whole time.  Now I was figuring that he was beginning to figure out that there was something between him and the outside, a thing we human’s refer to as glass.  I mean really, isn’t twice enough?  It seemed to me that he was stuck in some weird holding pattern circling, approaching, backing away and I felt that this could go on all day.  I was about to return to my snack when Twerp, from halfway across the floor, took off at a run and took a truly magnificent leap.  The form and energy expended displayed his conclusion.  obviously he hadn’t jumped hard enough or high enough and thump.  Really it was more of a bang, I guess Twerp was truly an American Cat. Again he landed on his feet and after looking around, you know to see if any other cats might have seen, he sulked of, head held low and tail dragging.

At this writing I am forty seven years old and this story has stuck with me through all that time.  The thing is so odd that I just can’t shake it.  I wonder about Twerp today.  Remember their babysitter Pooch?  I remember one early afternoon that spring, stepping out to check on the animals which we did in order to keep a head of Pooch’s escape attempts when I noticed the old dog chewing on something.  Five kittens were visible and whatever the Dog was chewing on was a dark tiger strip.  Dogs aren supposed to hate Cats, Right, I mean that’s what everybody says.  Five kittens in sight, pooch chewing on something tiger stripped.  Oh my God he’s eating Twerpy.  I took of like a shot, Mom would never stand for this kind of behavior.  If Twerp was half digested then I’d have to hide the rest.  But what if Twerp weren’t ate yet, What then? I rushed to the rescue and as I got close the dog let go of the cat, looking a me panting wagging his tail, he was happy.  I leaned down to see Twerp, the fur of his head pasted down and slimy with dog slobber, eyes closed, purring loud enough that he could be heard from some few feet.  I should have known then there was something different about that cat.

By mid August the local downtown Gun Store whose name I can’t remember closed and auctioned of everything.  The Gun store had been there for a long time and in its possession were two large solid Cherry Gun Cabinets that each stood about thirteen or fourteen feet in height and fifteen or so feet in width.  The top, the largest of the two parts, had glass sliding doors and glass side panels while the bottom held sixteen drawers.  The unit broke into two pieces plus the sliding glass door for transport, thank the almighty, and my mother wanted, really wanted one of those cabinets, they were solid cherry after all, for the kitchen.  Now if the project was crazy and required a disregard for personal safety or rational spending habits then Dad was good to go.  Mom got her cabinet and that night, Dad and I hauled the bottom half into the kitchen and put it in place.  But it would be awhile for the top to find its way there as it was as tall as the door frame.  So it sat in the living room and the cats would wander around it and occasionally play around it.

Twerp had a sister that went by the name Booger due to a black spot on its nose.  My brothers and I, when seeing the Black spot saw a mustache and wanted to name the cat Hitler but mom would have none of it.  In hind sight Hitler might have been a better name.  Booger would literal antagonize Twerp.  Swat him, bite him, chase him around, push stuff on him til Twerp would get mad and come after Booger.  Booger took off like the wind running for her life through the house.  Now Booger was a longer leaner Jack rabbit looking cat and she could really get moving and she would eventually start to pull out ahead of her brother Twerp.  In variably Booger would run into the living room towards the gun cabinet with the glass side panels and as she approached the glass with Twerp just being able to see her,she would jaunt around the glass and into the cabinet where she would slow to a walk.  You can imagine Twerp’s excitement at seeing his tormentor slow and as he began to gain ground.  Twerp doubled his pace and ran right into the glass.  Booger would jog off while Twerp stood there, ears flat, low on his hind haunches shaking his head.  His tail would thrash from side to side as he studied the mystery through narrow eyes and careful sniffs.  This happened repeatedly, always provoked by Booger, until the cabinet was moved into the kitchen and assembled.  Maybe Twerp possessed some strange learning disability.

I would never learn if he ever solved the mystery as Twerp stopped coming home one late september day.  We never saw him again.  I don’t spend as much time wondering what happen to Twerp, that was over thirty years ago.  I do spend time remember Twerp’s struggle with the mystery of  glass for my own entertainment.  Some day it will teach me something if it hasn’t already.

Lump of Coal – A Christmas Story

I Remember Christmas past this night. There were particular traditions in my youth with my family. On the 22nd of December there would be a small subdued celebration with my grandparents Armstrong, or Gampa and Gramma A as we use to say. Grampa and Gramma were snow birds and on their way south for the winter. To that Mecca of seasoned citzenhood called Florida and they would stop on there way to see my many Cousins down around Columbus and Cincinnati. We would wait up, it was in my years before becoming a fullblown teen, on Christmas eve for Mom to come home. She worked in a hospital as a pedatritics nurse in those years back when my brothers and I were part of the church’s boy’s choir. We needed to be at the church early to carol before the beginning of midnight mass. It was always a short night and the day following, Christmas, we would all find our way to grandpa and grandma Zeirolf’s, or Grandpa asnd Gramma Z’s for a christmas day feed.
Grandpa and Gramma were practical people so the gift was always a big box full of clothes for good. That’s how mom would say it, those clothes are “For Good.” Translation, for Church, School, Weddings and Funerals.
Grandpa would have spend some days before christmas making Peanut Brittle from an old receipe that had followed him from the farm so many decades ago. I don’t remember much about the process except for the part that involved a hammer. The old man literatally glowed when he said the words “Hard Tack” or “Peanut Brittle”. I can almost hear his voice in my ear now. He also spend some time with Gramma’s quiet ever patient assistance making Bourbon Balls. It is my belief to this day that Gramma, who did practically all of the cooking and baking was more than capable of this task but there always seemed to be some quiet dispute about the amount of liqour required. I am under the impression grandfather won as I can see Gramma right this instant with her fists planted on her hips, head tipped ever so slightly, lips bordering on a pucker as grandfather zestily poured more and more booze into the batch. At some point he would accuse her of useing too many eggs or milk or in some other way sabotagin’ the batch at which point gramma were softly buzz her lips, very close to a soft razzberry and join every one else in the living room. This series of events played out every year until my first year in college and to this day, in both grandpa and gramma defense I must add that outside of the two items mentioned and grinding horseradish, which is an experience in its self, grandfather only went in to the kitchen to ckeck his pyramid or to eat.
Gramma had undertook the herculean task of baking the weeks before creating cookies of everykind. Chocolate chip, peanut butter, sugar cookies shaped like stars and wreathes and a few sparse Santa’s, date bars, date nut wheels which to this day I have yet to reproduce successfully, Buckeyes, Gingersnaps, coconut cookies, snow balls, candy canes in red and white, anise and hazel nut and at this moment I can feel my stomach’s yearning. In my limited experience to date I have yet to encounter anything like those now ancient christmas cookies past. It seemes to be something more of legend than reality.
The house would settle by afternoon the heavy aroma of Kraut filling the air. It was Sourkraut and porkribs with thick knockwursts and hot dogs for those with weak hearts, pepperred with caraway and chunks of sour apples.  As far as Grandpa was concerned it was kraut for every major holiday except thanksgiving. Early yet on a very short day Gandpa would always gave his inspirational message for the new year. Ussually he would ask if myself and my brothers had been Good, always with a very thoughtful eyeing each of us like a skilled card player gauging his mark, to see if any tell might manifest, after which he concluded that we had been good, thou there was always room for improvement, he would announce “You’d better stay off the ball and on the stick and keep it that way.” With a “Little additional effort we could improve,” but, he would always pause and in his deepest and most menacing grandfather type voice he would continue, “Because if your bad you’ll get a lump of Coal!” This ussually brought sounds of disbelief and laughter followed by soft accusations of his veracity to which he would reliably reply, “You better believe it…It happened to me once!”

Grandpa held the tin, full of sticky Bourbon balls securly in his right hand, shaking it like a great rattle.  The heavily liqoured confections bounced within the tin as the old man looked over to my father, the other old man.  It was a long speculative look with a subtle air of question.  Dad would nod sticking his big hand into the tin to seize some of the alcoholic goodies.  The liquid booze wouldn’t enter the world until after dinner.  We all had some curiousity about those sugary confections.  Where they delightful to taste or exotic in their effect I would often wonder.  Judging from the hand full my father would pull from the can they must have been something truly magnificant.  Grandpa’s warning of the lump of coal would always simply end without elboration, that is, until my thirteenth Christmas.

I had started my freshman year in highschool the fall before and had been offered the oppurtunity to join the men’s choir at that time.  Choir was not the kind of thing I wanted to make a lifetime practice of, I thought ,and I declined.  Dad was siting, eyes bright and mood all around good, munching on his handful of alcoholic christmas tradition as Grandpa worked through his assessment of how good we had been that year ending with the haunted hollow warning of “The lump of Coal,” much like the ghost from christmases long past.  But this year there was a change, mundane as it may be on this holiday today, that night long ago it seemed dramatic.  First he thrust the tin of liqoured candies at each of the three of us one at a time.  Both of my brother’s wrinkled their noses, pursed their lips at the strong odor and shook their heads “NO!”  I took a few minutes longer eyeing the contents, the scent was strong enough to stand up on its own.  I wanted to try one of these things but I was having some indecision carefully looking for the smallest one I could find.  Grandpa shook the tin noisily.  To this day I believe that this action, the shaking of the tin, served the purpose of keeping life interesting.  Out of fear of appearing wimpy I grabbed one.  It was so sticky as to edge up on syrupy.  For at the moment I had found myself doubting my choice thrust apon the ridge of uncertainity.

My mother would clear her throat nervously hissing at her fasther.  “It won’t hurt them any,” Grandfather would assert in his own defense.

Grandpa hesistated making noises, a combination of thoughtful growls and grimaces indicating he was about to tell a story which was a rare thing indeed.  I was immersed in the challenge of the bourbon ball.  My Family always had one simple rule at the table, for any meal, if you weren’t going to eat it then don’t take it.  If you chose to fill your plate then finish it all.  The family was thick with farmers and wasting food was a big NO-NO.  What you don’t eat today will be made into something else tomorrow.

It was in the Summer, grandfather stated, when he was the same age as myself, thirteen.  There was a big reason why my brother’s and I had series doubt that grandpa had ever gotten a lump of coal because he had been distilling moonshine, his two eldest sisters, business partners as it were, had been running it all over west central ohio since he stood at the ripe old age of eleven.  If that didn’t get you a lump of coal what short of murder would?  It was the Prohibition after all.

It was the Summer, Granfather repeated, before the early havests started. That Summer he had been engaged in mortal combat with a young mustang stallion.  Great Grandfather had bought or traded for the horse and grandpa would get that far distant look like remembering a place so different than this very day that it could cause one to doubt that it was ever real.  It was a beautiful horse, prefect, fast, strong, smart with coal black fur.  Spirited Grandpa would say.  You couldn’t get it to take the saddle and it wouldn’t stay in the corral.  This horse roamed freely around the twelve hundred acre farm.  The old man, then a boy no older then myself saw this as a challenge.  After some thought and when there was available time from the massive chore work load as the farm was without mechanization of any sort, he put his plan into action.

There was a large orchard on the property, diverse in the fruit and nut trees that lived there, though most were apple, cherry and walnut. Remember Walnut, it is important later in the story.  So he found himself a tree that in his estimation, his word not mine, was high enough so that the horse could easily pass under and enough leaves to hide his presence from the ever alert mustang.  It would only be a matter of hours before the beautiful black horse would calmly wander under grandfather securely hidden in the tree.  The trap would then be sprung and he would drop out of the tree an onto the horse’s back.  The Mustang did what mustangs do, he took off like a shot not bucking like you would imagine but at a dead on run.  Grandfather hung on sans saddle and lacking bridal certain he had the horse right where he wanted him, Again grandfather’s words.  His face took a child like glow smiling to the point of laughter. The Mustang, it seemed was far smarter than grandfather had first thought.  Rather than running wildly around the 1200 acre farm the horse stayed in the orchard covering the ground at an unnatural speed until he found a low hanging branch on a cherry tree of just the right height.  Continuing the pace the black mustang took the farm boy under the tree, the branch sweeping the rider from its back and tossing him into a painful heap on the ground.

“I’ll be Damned if it didn’t happen,” Grandfather stated, a religious man, he rarily swore and such a statement was serious.  Yet he was laughing nearly to the point of tears.

“That Damn horse was standing not twenty feet away looking at me like I was some sort of a dummy, its head bouncing up and down snorting as though it were laughing at me,” he finnished now laughing so hard it would be minutes before the story would continue.  I, on the other hand still held the bourbon ball.  Feeling that this was as good of a time as any it took a half bite.  Compared to the men in the room it was a nibble.  I can’t describe the flavor.  It was terrible, much like I’d imagined the combination of brimstone and paint thinner.  My face must of had a most intense expression as Gramma offered to get rid of the rest for me.  Gramma was always there when life presented such seasonal difficulties.  We had completed the hidden hand off before grandfsather continued the story.

It would seem that the mustang and my thirteen year old grandfasther were as they say…”ON”.  Thus when ever Granpa had the time the battle would repeat.  He would drop from a tree, never the same tree.  The Mustang would dislodge him with a low hanging branch, rarily the same branch.  Of course this is only half the story.  The other half starts when a couple of boys form a nearby farm, (translate two miles down the road) actually witnesed an episode from this epic battle of wills.  One in particular by the name of Cleophis found the entire episode so entertaining as to edge to the brink of ridicule.  No one really knows how often Cleophis witnessed the spectacle but at one point he decided it would be even funnier it they set up an ambush.  As the story goes it was Cleophis and another boy who remains to this day unnamed, probably still in the witness protection program, who happened to be present on one occasion as the mustang again swept grandpa from its back.

This time though, they had equiped themselves with an arm load of green walnuts.  The branch took granfather of the horse’s back, he hit the ground hard probably resulting in a less then agreeable mood.  When he finally got back onto his feet and the ambush was sprung.  Cleophis and his companion started to unload the green walnuts like the german’s at Omaha beach.  Grandpa was surprized, at the very least, as a walnut impacted, I say impacted because these were farm boys that worked the field before tractors were available, they were extremely strong, so it was a hard blow to the side of his head.   Thank goodness Grandfather possessed a hard head.   Now grandfather was pretty quick on his mental feet and reacted instantly.

“I ran off towards the barn screaming bloody murder, like I might die at any minute,” I remember him smiling as he described this, “I was hoping they’d follow to finish me off.  So when I gets in the barn I find a two by four and hide just inside the door.”

I always imagine it as a chunk of wood a few feet long, he wasn’t specific.

“When Cleophis stuck his head inside the barn door to see where I was…Well…I hit him.” Grandfather spread his arms appart, “BANG…I put everything I had into it.”

Apparently they had to call a doctor.  You know how the story ends I guess.  That Chriustmas Grandpa didn’t get a new clean shirt or a freash orange like usual.  Instead it was a lonely lump of coal in the bottom of his stocking and now you know why.  I think Cleophis survived the ordeal only slightly worse for wear.  And The Black Mustang…Well I don’t believe they ever did get that animal to take a saddle.

Just keep that lump of coal in mind, before things really get crazy.

The Nazi Super Mouse

Just a few days ago I passed my 47th birthday and the events around my birthday better than ten years ago came to mind.  The events are true and the names have been changed to protect those involved.

Meta, Roman, my brother, and I were sitting talking among ourselves one evening in the late 90s.  I remember that the television was on but the sound  had been muted.  Whatever the topic of that night’s conversation was has long escaped me.  May be it fled my memory after the image of a small, furry, shadow with distinct brown highlights darted across the threshold of a closed door, the door to the outside, bathed in bright illumination.

I jumped to my feet and yelled, “Mouse!”

After which I tore into a stack of makeshift shelves, Roman was quick to join in the hunt.  Needless to say we didn’t find the mouse.  Roman, it seemed, was wondering if I had just had a hallucination as some schizophrenics do and I happen to be one that does.  Meta on the other hand was willing to admit the possibility, being that the appartment we rented was poorly maintained and near the water.  She would state that she believed me but for some reason, possibly my own paranoia, I had the sensation of being humored.  Rather than push the argument to its natural extreme I dropped it and everything settled back down after the makeshift milk crate shelves were reassembled.  Roman left the appartment that night semi-certain that he had somehow just taken part in a hallucination.  Meta went on about her night and the following days as if nothing had changed and I forgot about the mouse.  I want to say, that with in the week, but it might have been ten days, Meta saw the mouse for herself.

The little critter ran across a door way that sat between our spare bedroom and the kitchen.  She had seen it clearly and when she told me of the incident she stressed, I mean STRESSED, that she and the mouse could not share the same living space and as she paid part of the rent so it was the mouse that had to go.  I mean, she wanted the critter dead.  I can remember that look in her eye, it sends a chill up my spine to this day.  I felt that the mouse was a living being, just like her and I, and it had a right to live too.  She aggreed, just not in the same space she lived i. , Meta was very insistant.  I had no way of capturing the mouse and releasing it (That was my big point in the debate).  She stated again, the mouse can’t live with her, eyes blazing with a murderous fury.

“What did that mouse ever do to you? Humm?” I did my best to sound like an anti-war protester and worked up the saddest eyes I could.  It was my trump play and she softened like butter.  Mice had a right to live, didn’t they.  So the mouse and Meta and I lived moderately comfortably, for the next several weeks, everybody relaxed and there was time of peace and prosperity.  That was until what Meta and I refer to as the “incident” occurred.  It was nearing the end of the first third of july and my birthday, the 9th, was close at hand.  Meta made for the day of my birth a most spectacular chocolate cake.  This was a specific receipe that would come into creation from her precious finger tips pulled from the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa can once a year at best, like some bit of ancient magick.  This wasn’t just any cake now, as it was assembled from scratch, the icing extra, extra chocolate.  Now there are those in the world who don’t have a taste for such a thing and maybe prefer spice, yellow, fruit or angel food but for those who do it was a piece of the divine.  The chocolate so heavy that it could cause one’s mouth to seal shut and the only cure was cold milk or possibly vanilla ice cream.  She had finished it, whorls of thick black icing calling to me when she said, “I think I’ll put this in the refridgerator.”

“What!” I said, “Don’t put that in the fridge!”  I despised cold hardened cake.

“What about the mouse?” She says.

I surveyed the tables spindley metal legs that joined with the top well underneath and the smooth paneling that climbed up the wall beside the table and said, “The mouse can’t get on that table!”  I admit my tone may have been a bit condesending.

“It surely can,” She says.  To which I respond, “What is the damn thing? Spider man?”  “O’Kay,” She says, the vowels pulled in such a manner that I would later realize was dictated by experience.  So the next morning I crawled out of bed, pulling on my second hand factory worn overalls and made my way to behold my birthday cake with an anticpation hitherto only seen in children.  I approached the cake slowly, I know I was smiling, in the strata Meta and I found ourselves living in this was my gift and it was a big deal.  My gaze dropped down to behold what would be to my eye the most bueatiful confection ever conceived when my smile froze.  Tiny little foot prints crossed the delicatible surface starting at the corner nearest me.  It seemed that the little bastard had decided to go for a walk one day, but not in month of may.  There, in the corner nearest me were eat marks, but apparently, atleast as far as the mouse was concerned, the cake there wasn’t good enough for him. so he marched in practically a straight line to where he would try again.  The second eat mark was larger, the cake there must have been better to the rodent’s discerning palette.  Half the cake, ruined, the smile falling from my face.  Some would say the mouse was very rude, I would call it a travesty, a disgraceful, ungrateful assualt apon its ally.  After all I was the one that had saved the mouse’s life.  So, with steam puffing from my ears, I cut the cake in half, disposing the parts the mouse had definitely walked apon.  I then hacked a chunk from the remaining cake, six four frame leaning against the door,  surveying the appsartment as I, growling, chewed on a piece of cake that the little vagrant decided was good enough for me, Mind dark with thoughts of revenge.

My thinking was direct and simple, I had longer legs than it did so I was probably faster, no doubt I was stronger, I could bench 230 pounds and I had some college so I must be smarter.  Tool of choice? an Aluminum ball bat.  At first Roman assisted, each of us equiped with an aluminum ball bat.  The minute we sighted the mouse off we would charge metal thudding the floor like a giant’s club.  As it would turn out, a mouse which believe me is a very small animal is also very fast.  The little critter was a blur and we never got anywhere near him with the crude weapons we were using.  After a few days Roman lost interest and I didn’t presist much longer.  It seems a seige situation had developed.  The mouse was definately faster than I was, but I still had strength and brains.  While I sat watching and thinking it occurred to me that I had an insurgency on my hands.  The mouse had become cocky, when Meta and I were sitting in the living room, he would pause in the center of the doorway.  In clear sight, the mouse, would sit up like preforming for some photo oppertunity.  I realized that “live and let live” had turned into appeasement.  Since I couldn’t take him man to mouse I would have to bring in technology.  After all, its what humans are good at, creating technology, especially the killing kind.  The beginning of August came and so did the bit of money from socail security.  Along with paying bills we purchased a few mouse traps.

An effectuive device that had changed little in a hundred years.  I had been studying the mouse’s movements and after baiting the traps with peanut butter (everybody likes peanut butter) I carefully placed them and went to bed confident that the problem would soon be solved.  There are times in the dark of night or morning, sometimes even late morning, when a body’s stirs one into moving to answer some call of the wild, in this case, to use the bathroom.  Eye’s heavy with sleep my feet knew the way by memory as I took slow careful steps towards my goal.  For reasons today that still escape me, my eye opened just as I was about to complete my last step before turning into the restroon.  Frozen, before any thought could fully crystillize in my mind, there under my left foot, held still in mid air on its course to the floor, lay a mouse trap, still set.  I staggered back and stooped low to get a good look.  It had been pulled out from its place behind the utility room door and repositioned where we would have unknowingly stepped.  This had been accomplished without setting the thing off and the little freak had stripped the peanut butter bait.  This was no ordinary mouse.  Then a thought occurred to me, what if he had brought friends?  I looked suspiciously around the appartment, every corner, behind the furniture, even in the walls we could have, through my complacency allowed an army of mice to overwhelm our defenses.

I had set four booby traps for the mouse and each was stripped of bait and repositioned in a main walkway and remained set.  I can still feel the crawl of chills up and down my spine.  Whether it was a mouse or mice, they weren’t the ordinary kind.  Some sort of hybrid, probably engineered in some NAZI lab as an odd last hope to win World War II and now they were in my home.  Then an even more chilling thought, what if we had a rat?

Meta had wisely held back a few dollars from one of the bills we owed, probably the land lord.  It is vital in times of crisis to have a top notch Secretary of the Treasury, especially when raising the debt ceiling (gettiing a credit card) is out of the question.  With some of this money we purchased two mechanical rat traps.  Never have I seen a more menacing piece of home pest removal equipment before in my life.  As I set and baited the rat booby traps I was keenly aware that one miss step would, in the very least, break one of my fingers, one misstep could cost a toe.  They seemed incredibly sensitive and I grinned with the knoweldge that the tide was about to turn in our favor.  If this mouse were only a lone scout then his timely eliminataion could prevent a broader conflict.  But, if the insurgency was at full swing, well it could give us the advantage we needed.  Mouse traps, rat traps, all set, carefully positioned, baited, my wife and I went to bed and slept well.

What happened with the mouse traps would be repeated with the rat traps the following morning turning our hallway between the bedroom and the livingroom, the spine of our home into a mine field.  I realized that not only was the mouse or mice faster, they were porportionately stronger and, yes they were even smarter than I.  Brute strength had no avail and the mechanical type technology had been turned against us.  As against chemical weapons as I was, I realized that I had found myself in a corner and that a good solid weapon of mass destruction seemed to be the only way out.

Meta, with our last few dollars, purchaesed some Decon.  We had no pets or small children and under such circumstances Decon is an inexpensive and effective weapon.  It could be compared to Raytheon’s answer to cock roaches with less radioactive fall out.  Tense, feeling the apparent threat from the uber mouse, I carefully placed the poison in key junctions of his nightly runs, his Ho Chi Minh Trail as it were.  That was it.  No more mouse.  In the future if Meta tells me she can’t live with some critter, you bet I’ll listen.