Tuesday, March 2, 2010

Creatures from the Deep and Dark (or Bright and Porcelain)

So, I was calmly enjoying a warm-ish afternoon of writing (finally got the launching point for the new book) and, what to my wondrous ears should appear? Why, the frantic sounds of a small creature or bony-limbed, would-be burglar scrambling about in my chimney. The horrible scratching would go on for about ten seconds, then pause, then resume. And then…silence.

Now, I’ve never pretended to be brave, or good in the face of danger (or vermin), but the one thing I simply cannot handle is small creatures in my home. Bugs, fine. Anything warm-blooded is right out.

Following are my vague, panic-drenched memories of the last time the home in which I lived was infiltrated by a small, uninvited mammal:

I was alone and getting ready to take a shower. I know it’s spooky, but it gets spookier. I was living in a duplex. *gasp* Actually, the relevance of the duplex is that I had been living on one side of it with my sister and her boyfriend. The other side became available and, because it had a garage, we took it. It was teeming with mice. We sealed cracks in the wall. We cleaned everything surface we could find. We set regular traps, glue traps. Mice…everywhere.

So. I was alone and getting ready to take a shower. I pulled back the shower curtain and stared down into the blinking black eyes of a mouse. My heart stopped. I couldn’t touch it. For some reason, it terrified me. Then, I remembered that we had a dog in the house. Tall, skinny shepherd mix. I thought, huh, perhaps I will just allow the circle of life to occur in the bathtub. I called the dog. She stood beside me, staring down into the bathtub, and did nothing. Oh, sure, she pointed, she whirled and barked, she licked her lips. But she didn’t get the darn mouse out of the tub.

Perhaps the mouse is too far away, I thought. Maybe if I add some water to the tub, the mouse will float and the dog will be able to pluck it off the surface of the water. I turned on the faucet, adjusting the temperature so that the mouse would not be uncomfortable (yes, the irony that I was, in fact, bringing it closer to certain death with comfortable bath water is not lost on me). And then, the thing I did not anticipate. The mouse began to swim, paddling slowly in a circle. It was kind of cute, except that it kept being nearly drowned by the running water. In the end, the dog took care of the problem, but neither she nor I have ever recovered.

What’s the point, you say? The point is that I have some THING in the chimney, and no dog. Just two rather stupid, pitiful cats. I could start a fire. I could go to a hotel. There are all kinds of options for dealing with this, but since I have never gotten over a fluttery feeling of guilt for the way that poor mouse met his end, I think I will practice avoidance and pretend the thing is not in there. I will call a chimney sweep come spring and let him deal with it.

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