“Honey, I need a box or a container or something,” W says.
It’s 6:00 in the morning.
The urgency in her voice suggests that she needs to dispose of a body part. That’s the first thing that pops into my mind at 6 a.m. I am Italian after all.
Me: What’s the matter?
W: There’s a mouse in the bathtub.
Me: Is it alive or dead?
W: I don’t know. His eyes are open. I’m scared.
She gives me that please-protect-me look, which gets this butch’s motor running every time.
Me: Ok, give me a second.
I go downstairs and assemble a makeshift mouse-catching kit. I grab a plastic shopping bag, a small plastic tub, a plastic cup and an empty granola bar box.
W: Don’t worry about the blood. I’ll get that later.
W: There’s two drops of blood on the bathroom floor.
Me: But you don’t know whether the mouse is alive or dead?
This from a nurse.
Me: Well, where did the blood come from?
It’s not like we live in that hotel from The Shining where blood seeps in through the walls.
W: I don’t know. I have to get to work.
Me: Ok, ok, ok.
I walk to the tub, stepping over the drops of blood. There’s a dark gray mouse sitting on top of the drain. His eyes are open. He’s not moving.
I steel myself over the tub preparing to grab a mouse — who may be alive or dead or in a cat-induced coma for all I know — with a plastic shopping bag.
W: Come on, I have to take a shower.
Me: Alright, alright. If this thing moves, I’m going to scream.
I approach the mouse, hand wrapped in plastic bag. It moves. I scream.
I am nothing if not predictable.
Me: Oh God, oh God, oh God.
W impatiently leaves the bathroom.
I chase the mouse all over the tub with the plastic cup. Finally, I get him to scoot inside and cover the top with the plastic bag.
He looks fine. The clear plastic cup allows for a complete medical inspection.
Me: He’s so cute. Can we keep him?
She’s really grumpy in the morning.
Me: I dub you Mordecai. Where do you think the blood came from?
W: I don’t know. There’s only two drops.
Me: Only two drops? That’s a lot of blood. Have you seen how tiny this mouse is? The blood is either from Magic …
Magic is our cat who routinely catches, maims and kills mice. We have assumed that Magic caught Mordecai in some other part of the house, put him in her mouth and then carried him upstairs to her bathtub of horror where she could bat him around and he’d have no way to escape. She’s like a feline version of Buffalo Bill from The Silence of the Lambs.
W: I doubt it.
Me: Or, another mouse that’s dead. Or, Mordecai, and he looks ok.
That’s when W notices that Mordecai is missing his tail.
Me: Maybe, he didn’t have one.
Maybe Mordecai is some exotic tailless mouse like a Manx cat, I think.
W: I think all mice have tails.
She starts singing Three Blind Mice.
W: They all ran after the farmer’s wife, who cut off their tails with a carving knife.
Because this is the definitive source when it comes to rodent anatomy.
Me: Don’t worry, Mordecai, I think it’s a vestigial appendage.
I ask W what I should do with Mordecai.
W: I don’t know. Put him in the yard.
I worry that Mordecai will find his way back inside and into Magic/Buffalo Bill’s torture chamber again.
W: Either put him in the yard or kill him.
Me: These are his two options? Either release him in the yard or kill him?
This thing has mob movie written all over it.
Me: So, I can’t drive him to the park? Mordecai, how would you like to live in a park?
I end up walking Mordecai, who is safely ensconced in his plastic cup, to an old industrial park a block down the street.
I decide he will become a hobo mouse. Mordecai the hobo mouse. I dump him out of the cup and place a Fruit Loop at his feet. Mordecai sniffs around and then darts under an abandoned trailer.
I tell W.
W: Did you gave him a bandana and a stick?
Me: No. Just a Fruit Loop.
W: Did you really?
Me: Yes. I figured that it was the least that we could do after he survived Magic’s tub of terror.
So much excitement and it’s not even 7 a.m. I try to calm myself , but adrenaline is coursing through my body. It’s been a big morning. A big, bloody, horrific morning.
I kiss W goodbye and tell her to have a good day.
“Keep an eye out for the tail,” she tells me before she leaves.
Good God, will the horror never end?