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spring 2004

Howdy folks,

I'm going to tell you the story of The Great Attack. However, before I start, I have to do some explaining. Let me first assure you that Shirl and I embrace the principle that cleanliness is next to godliness, or however the saying goes. Nonetheless, our house is nestled in a pretty dense woods, and every fall we are invaded by a small herd of field mice which take up residence in our attic. With the aid of traps, I have usually wiped them out in a couple of months. (I apologize to the mice lovers among you.) This year, though, my annual campaign was not quite as successful as usual.

One morning, I was awakened from a sound (read "comatose") sleep by the most horrendous shrieks I've ever heard. It was Shirl, obviously terrified. I was muttering, "What? What?" Shirl was screaming at the top of her lungs, "God! Oh god!"

I thought we were under attack by Osama bin Laden or John Ashcroft or the Hessian army. Shirl was yelling, "Kill it! Kill it!" Still half asleep, I tried to jump out of bed to get the shotgun in the closet, got my foot tangled in the sheet and fell on my naked rump. Now that woke me up. Shirl was standing by the bed shouting, "Get it! For god's sake, don't let it get away!"

The room was empty, and I was getting angry--I hate being jerked out of a sound sleep. I started yelling at Shirl. "Are you crazy, woman. Get what? Kill what?"

She was busy rushing around the room like a demented squirrel, yanking closet, bath and hall doors closed. I stood dumbfounded, looking for our attacker as she breathlessly explained, "I woke up and there it was!"

"What was?" I demanded, not unreasonably. No terrorist, AG or military were in sight."

A mouse on the comforter--not six inches from my face! Staring right into my eyes! Beady big black eyes." Now since hers are green, I had to assume she meant the mouse's eyes. Remember, I'd been woken from a sound sleep. Then she pointed to the side of the bed where a hapless field mouse clung like a mountain climber whose safety rope just broke. Shirl kept yelling, "Get Panther! Get Panther!"

I opened the bedroom door (closing it after me) and streaked down the hall to the living room. Our 21 year old tomcat, Panther, was asleep on one of the couches. I scooped him up, scaring the bejesus out of the old guy, and dashed back to bedroom. From the look on his face I'm sure he was thinking, "Oh my god, we're under attack by Osama bin Laden or John Ashcroft or the Hessian army!"

Anyway, I slipped into the bedroom with him and shut the door. Shirl had kept track of the rodent invader and pulled up the bed clothes, revealing a small hairy tail sticking out from beneath the comforter. "It's here. Sicc'em, Pan!" I am certain that at this juncture the mouse was thinking, "Oh my god, I'm under attack by Osama bin Laden or John Ashcroft or the Hessian army!"

I tossed Panther on the floor, aiming him toward the enemy. He saw the mouse and dove directly at it. In a minute he stuck his head out, a dead mouse in his mouth. Then, the cat's eyes got real beady and shifty, like a politician who's telling you that shipping American jobs to India is good for our economy. Panther had a Mouse MacMuffin and he was trying to figure a way out of the room so he could run off and eat it before we got it away from him. Bad things happen when he devours wildlife but we won't go into that now…

After a few moments of considering every exit and seeing them all sealed, you could almost hear him sigh. He dropped the dead mouse and walked away as if he really didn't want it anyway.

After I got rid of the mouse, I was exhausted. Ignoring Shirl's complaints about the immediate need to change the linens, I climbed back in bed and went back to sleep. My guess is that Pan went back to his couch. Thwarting an attack by a suicidal rodent is tiring for a couple of old guys.

Take care,


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