The Mouse, A Shoe, and Jimmy Durante ~ a Winter Story

Kinda like ours but we had cottonwoods and a screened porch...

Kinda like ours but we had cottonwoods and a screened porch…

It was winter, I think, or the mouse would not have been inside. They came in from the fields surrounding our old farmhouse to escape the cold, in the way of smart mousies. Not quite sure since I was eight or nine years old [*Writers, take note of SPELLING OUT a numeral within a sentence, Chicago Manual of Style 9.2, 9.3. See chicagomanualofstyle.org or buy it on amazon) 

Sorry for the flow-break in the story. Anyway. We lived a-midst fruit-farms in Palisade, Colorado, on a road with one of those weird numerical-fractional-addresses common to the Grand Valley (or is it the way of farmland regions… “29 3/4 Rd.” “33 3/10 Rd.” Who does that anyway, other than farmers dealing with acreage?) My brother, six years older than I and a younger teen at the time, was dressed up for some reason – perhaps a Holiday concert or other event – and wearing black dress shoes. There may have been a white dress shirt and black slacks involved also. Mom, me, and the bro were home alone (I don’t recall my sister being there; probably out with one of her many admirers). Dad was either working his second job at Colemans in Grand Junction, at Masonic Lodge, or volunteering; at any rate he was gone. Thus my brother had be The Man of the House that day.

MouseMom was working in the kitchen and I was playing in the other room, when I heard a squeak. Followed by an actual ‘Eeek!” My brother and I entered the kitchen to find her standing on a chair, just like in Tom & Jerry cartoons, pointing at the floor, clutching her embroidered apron. tomjerry maid

There was the little gray mouse, scurrying around in circles, darting in and out of shadows.

I was delighted and scared at the same time, but mostly fascinated. We had traps around — the ‘real’ kind not the ‘humane’ ones of current-day — but this one had evaded them! My brother tried to get the mouse of the room, on his hands and knees, chasing it (he may remember this entire incident a different way, but my nine yr-old self is writing this, so I own the power here). I danced around, our mother kept to her chair, flapping her apron up and down and yelling at my brother to “Get it! Get it!”

*WARNING to those of tender hearts or weak stomachs!* ….He was having no such luck, since mice are very fast creatures. He did manage to keep it from finding a hole to escape into. Looking around the room, he found nothing to help him otherwise. So he took off his black dress shoe–and threw it at the mouse.I’m guessing he intended to stun it or something,but he threw with such force that… 

splat red

    And I mean, it really did…gore and guts and mouse fur squished out from his shoe. Not SUCH a smart mousie, after all, My brother’s intelligence came into question as well, given our mother’s response. She yelled louder. I screamed, feeling sorry for the mouse (animal-lover that I was). My brother, rather stunned, stared at the gore. And sat down on the floor and began to laugh, sadistic guy that he is (not really but he does have a wicked sense of humor).

“You’re going to clean that up!” Mom said. “The floor AND your shoe, buster!”

“Your’e welcome,” I believe my brother responded. He cleaned it up. Eventually, we laughed about that incident and enjoyed telling it anyone who began a story with ‘One time, we had a mouse…’  Most folks do have some mouse story-or-the-other, even city dwellers, and most of them are pretty gross, actually. Even the humane traps aren’t pretty.

Since we lived in the country, why, you may ask, didn’t we have a cat? Cats are wonderful mouse-killers and keep the vermin out of your home, usually – if they are any respectable kind of feline. We had a dumb (really, she was) collie named Maxie. We had thirteen Bantam (very small breed) chickens that were my pets, basically, since it took about a dozen of their teeny eggs to feed even one person. Dad tried to raise Chincillas for profit one time, a disaster that always made my mother shake her head and purse her lips into crinkles. I played with garter snakes in the gardens and I had rabbits. But cats?? When I found an orange-tabby kitten and named it Cindy, and begged Mom to let me keep her, it was a firm NO.

“I’m allergic to cats,” she had claimed a number of times. And kitty “went away” somewhere. So really, the mouse incident was spawn of her own sowing, right?

In her senior years, my mother announced that she’d adopted a sweet, green-eyed black fluffy kitty.

“Eh?” I said. “I thought you were allergic to cats?!”

“Um,” my mother said. “Her name is ‘Inky-Dinky-Do,’ like the song.”

“Like what’s-his-name’s song, the guy with the big nose?” jimmydurante (1)

“Jimmy Durante,” she said, thinking she’d successfully dodged that bullet about being allergic.

“So those times you said I couldn’t have a cat…?” I probed, not taking the dodge.

“Inky hung around the house for days, so I fed her, and she’s very sweet – but shy,” Mom said.

Yeah, yeah…but I bet she never had mice in that house, did she? black cat inky

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