Friday, April 14, 2017
Adventures come in all sizes. (FREE STORY.)
Living off-grid can be an adventure. The wildlife can be large or small, but conflicts occur regardless of size. Or so I found...
Tossing and turning all night, dreaming repetitive dreams of visiting and helping to cook a huge meal in someone else's kitchen, waking up sweaty over and over, the air not moving at all. Nothing making a move except with the whine of a hunting mosquito.
Finally the alarm clock went off, just the buzzer on my cell phone (I'm almost always awake before the ringing actually starts) vibrating the headboard of the bed. I turn it off fast, lie still in the tangled, damp summer sheets, and pray for strength to rise and at least fake shining.
A trip to the bathroom. I hear a mousy squeak on the other side of the wall, and think, "Yeah, Lucy Jo finally got that damned mouse again! Finally." She'd played with it about a week ago, and I hadn't seen or heard it since then, though I knew she'd been watching it off and on.
I stump stiff-footed back to get dressed by the light of my clip-on flashlight. Just the basics. Fill my pockets with phone, a tiny spare flashlight, a small pocketknife, and clip my watch onto a belt loop. A pair of soft, comfortable cushion-y shoes made of foam-plastic of some sort.
Back to the bathroom to wash up a bit prior to making coffee and breakfast, a wet washcloth to clear the sweaty-face and the sandman's leavings from the corners of my eyes. I bite back a cracking yawn; bugs like to flit about under the flashlight, and I don't care for the taste of adventurous bug much.
I start to turn away from my tiny mirror, and then I hear it, realizing at last that the squeaking is a lot closer than it had been. When I look down as I turn, I see why: Lucy Jo is at my feet, looking up at me with big, joyous eyes.
"Look, Mom! I found that great toy again. Wanna play?" She seemed to indicate, looking happily from me to the mouse.
The mouse. Ah, the mouse. It was sitting less than the width of my hand, perhaps three inches, from the cat's nose, squeaking at the top of its lungs. Obviously, it was giving a mouse-to-cat cussin' that went beyond the average rodential rant. It ignored me totally.
It hopped at the cat, seeming to rave madly in its tiny, tinny voice. "Put up your dukes, you damned feline! I swear by the Great Cheese, I'll tan your hide to nest in! Go on, y' great fool! You couldn't keep me caught last time, so why should I be afraid now? COME AND GET ME, CAT!"
I shook my head. I wasn't hearing the words, I swore to myself, I wasn't. It was merely an early morning, before the first cup of my beloved, acid-strength coffee.
Just then, Lucy Jo peeked at me again, and did a small, delicate cat-squeak of delight. "Oooh, look, Mommy! It wants to play. Play with us, please-please-please!"
The deer-footed field mouse never let up once. It was giving the cat pure hell and hopping around in a purely pugilistic manner.
I squeezed my eyes shut and reopened them, hoping the illusions would go away and I'd wake up to see that it was too early for the alarm to go off after all... but when I opened my eyes, they were still there, and I could clearly hear Ronnie snoring from his prone position on the big, soft bed.
"Lucy, please tell me you're going to go ahead and kill that thing. It's way past time." I mumbled aloud.
Inwardly snarling, I considered: foam-plastic shoes. What were the odds...? Oh, well. Here goes.
The mouse had maneuvered to between me and the cat, back to me. Ignoring me still. Lucy Jo was starting to look puzzled, wondering no doubt why I wasn't playing with her wonderful mouse, er, toy.
So I stomped the mouse. Foam-plastic shoes and all. Sometimes one just has to stand up and protect the resident cat.
When I stepped back, by the light of the clip-on, I saw the mouse standing still. Stunned, at least. I waited. It slowly slumped forward, sneezed out a tiny blast of blood, and spasmed once.
Ahhhhh, no more mouse dancing a challenge to the resident cat. Or me.
Lucy looked first confused, then insulted. I quickly pulled over a box half full of clean litter and propped it over the little carcass. No way I was going to let her eat it after it acted so crazy!
Ronnie, hearing the noises, managed to ask me what was going on. I told him to go back to sleep, that it was all a bad dream, and any rate I hadn't had my coffee yet. He was snoring again before I got through speaking.
Oh, but that coffee tasted so good. I sat and sipped it quietly in the dark of morning, by the usual candle-light, while watching Lucy Jo wander about the house. She kept calling to the mouse as if it were a kitten: "B'ahw? B'ahw?" But her search was in vain.
Ahh, coffee... maybe it was all a bad dream, after all.