Saturday, June 2, 2012

Kamikaze?

     A few years ago, Ronnie and I bought an old truck we planned to use for going on various wild-lands excursions. It was a Dodge D-50, tiny and battered. Rust and dents consumed most of the body; the floorboards had holes that let in water from every puddle on the road. But for $500 USD, it was fine for the job we gave it.

     We would pack ourselves into the worn-out seats, which I had re-padded with old foam bed-pillows bought cheap from a motel that was refurbishing its supplies, cameras and film packets crammed into every dry corner. The windows were always down, the wind whistling through the cab for two reasons. One, there was no air conditioner in the truck, and in summer it was a sweltering oven; two, something had happened to the interior of the windows that would never let the defogger work.

      For a photographic foray into the beautiful Red River Gorge, it was just the thing to have. It got good mileage, and it wasn't something flashy to attract camera thieves or other human pests. The cooler rode in the back, stuffed with ice, sodas, and fruit juice. Another thermal pack held quickie lunch foods and basic picnic gear.


     One steamy summer evening, we hopped in it to take some rented movies back to the local shop in town. Just a short run there, and then we wanted to drop over by the river bridge and snap a few shots of some spectacular wildflowers seen there earlier. We didn't take all the cameras, just what we thought would do this little job. So Ronnie, having just got off from work, grabbed a double-pack Reese's Peanut Butter Cup candy (to hold him until supper time developed), which he tossed under the edge of the elbow cushion, in the small space between the main seats. Since it was dry weather, I stashed the well-cushioned camera cases under my feet, in the truck's raddled floorboards.

     Away we went. As we dropped over our steep driveway, Ronnie turned on the vent fan to help circulate some air. A ticker-tape barrage of mouse-gnawed paper restaurant napkins snowed the interior of the truck as soon as the fan kicked on. We fanned and swatted at the stuff.

      "Damn mice," Ronnie swore. The truck was a virtual rodent's paradise, full of holes to get in, and dry compared to a fallen log somewhere in the woods nearby. I laughed. Who cares, I thought, a mouse has to live too.

      Within a few minutes, the three-mile jaunt to town was complete, and we pulled up at the door of the video rental store. Ronnie grabbed the movies, popped open his door, and set one foot on the parking lot pavement. That's as far as he got before he was run over by a determined field mouse, the comparatively heavy Reese's Peanut Butter cup double-pack in its teeth.

       We yelped at the same time, then sat there in amazement, jaws agape, watching the mouse scuttle stubbornly across the virtual desert of the blacktop. It crossed the parking area, the street, and then another parking area of about the same size. The orange paper packet was never once let go of by that little rascal. Package and the rodent were both about the same size.

      I've always liked chocolate. I don't eat it often, but I do like it, especially the dark kind. But I don't think I'd have wanted to fight that particular mouse for its loot. I swear, I do believe that the kamikaze, creature would have fought for it tooth and nail. It was definitely maddened and out for chocolate that night!