HOW TO GROW OLD IN A HURRY

The Day We Killed the Mouse

Life can be dangerous — even on Maple Boulevard. Grab a No. 5 iron and get ready for the kill

JACK SCOTT November 1 1948
HOW TO GROW OLD IN A HURRY

The Day We Killed the Mouse

Life can be dangerous — even on Maple Boulevard. Grab a No. 5 iron and get ready for the kill

JACK SCOTT November 1 1948

The Day We Killed the Mouse

HOW TO GROW OLD IN A HURRY

JACK SCOTT

WHENEVER my wife gets to brooding about the dullness of life in the suburbs and wants to run away and be a trapeze artist or swim the Hellespont I merely have to remind her of the time we killed the mouse.

“Remember the time we killed the mouse,” I say and she goes back to her knitting with a contented little smile, I pick up my crossword puzzle again, concentrate on the two-letter word for a three-toed sloth, and we are very happy once more in the knowledge that sometimes life can be lived dangerously, even on Maple Boulevard.

In the beginning, we did not think it was a mouse at all. It sounded more like a larger animal, possibly a panther or puma.

Several times, late at night, we heard it pacing the kitchen floor, banging down the oven door and throwing pots and pans about. On some nights it appeared to be crunching its giant molars on a stalk of celery.

All this we put down to a trick of the imagination as soon as we discovered the small, gnawed hole in the kitchen nook, it was obviously neither panther nor puma, but just a very busy mouse.

Instantly we set a cunning network of traps, one of which left a permanent tilt to the nose of our dog, Sport. The mouse itself ignored the finest pimento cheese spread that money can buy even when it was thoughtfully topped with mayonnaise.

Our nights continued to be interrupted by the mouse’s activities. Some nights it would keep us awake running up and down the top of the cupboard and apparently wearing logger’s boots. Other nights it wouldn’t make a sound. That kept us awake, too.

HEN CAME the fateful day when we found ourselves face to face with the wild beast in broad daylight. We had come home from a shopping tour in the late afternoon. I was in the

living room glancing over the evening paper. My wife was in the kitchen.

“Eeek!” she cried. It was just like in the funny papers.

1 turned quickly to the sports section, hoping that whatever it was would go away, but soon there was a whole series of mezzo-soprano shrieks.

I folded the paper carefully, lit a cigarette to calm my nerves and strolled to the kitchen, a picture of steely-eyed calm. Mv wife was standing on a chair holding up her New Look skirt like a can-can dancer.

“It’s the mouse!” she cried.

I leaped lightly up beside her, hoisting the legs of my trousers.

“It ran into the bathroom!” she said.

“Naturally,” 1 said. “You made so much noise it probably had to go to the bathroom.”

We stood there for a few moments. It was the mouse’s round all the way. Obviously this would never do. 1 got down from the chair, whispered a few words of instruction to my wife and followed her down the hall. En route we both picked up floor mats and carried them in front of us like shields. The scene lacked only a half dozen native gun-bearers, two pith helmets and Sabu to be right out of a jungle movie.

We tiptoed up to the door of the bathroom like a couple of people expecting to face a charge by a herd of rhinoceros, and peeked inside. Sure enough, there was the mouse in a corner, running up and down in little spurts, wringing its hands and making small, squeaky mouse sounds of alarm.

It wasn’t much of a mouse. Couldn’t, have been any further on than grade five at most and in its moment of peril

Life can be dangerous — even on Maple Boulevard. Grab a No. 5 iron and get ready for the kill

it looked like a small, mechanical toy that had been wound too tightly.

My wife made a circling movement around the bathtub to send the mouse into our trap. When he tried to make it to the door I threw the mat on top of him. Then my wife threw her mat on top of mine and neither of us had any idea where the mouse might be.

There were still those small, squeaky sounds of alarm, but I realized now that they were coming from my wife.

1 knew at this point that 1 would have to have a weapon with which to give the mouse the coup de grace and so, leaving my wife on guard, 1 hurried to the hall where 1 keep my golf clubs.

It was obviously a difficult decision to make. A full brassie shot would probably be in order, but a mouse that small might be handled better with an iron and what with winter rules . . .

My reverie was shattered by some shrill cries from the bathroom. As I dashed back to the scene the mouse came careening out of the door, skidded round the corner with squealing brakes and lit out down the hall with me in pursuit.

The mouse was obviously unnerved now and took the wrong turn for his one chance of escape. As he backtracked I took my stance, keeping the head well down and the left arm straight, and the mouse was sent to his reward.

It was a moment of triumph and that night when we went to bed we knew there would be no more disturbances to mar our slumber. Yet somehow sleep wouldn’t come. I realized I was thinking of the mouse, remembering how small and soft he was when I picked him up in a piece of newspaper with his pink, delicate feet hanging loose.

Sleep was not coming, either, to my wife. I heard her sigh several times as if in remorse.

“Are you thinking of . . . of him?” I whispered.

“Yes,” she said mournfully, “I keep wondering if his name was Mickey.”

We both sighed gently, hating ourselves. And at that moment there was a pattering of tiny feet out in the kitchen and the oven door started banging all over again. ★