In last week’s column I wrote about my cat, who was the hero of a story entitled “Watson to the Rescue” in “Chicken Soup for the Soul: The Magic of Cats.” The story boasts of Watson’s prowess in keeping squirrels at bay. No sooner had I e-mailed the column to the Herald-Citizen than Watson rescued me again.
It was the day before Thanksgiving and the Fed Ex truck was backing up my driveway. As I headed to the porch to meet the driver, suddenly–out of nowhere—something black and furry squeezed through a small opening (no bigger than a nickel!) where the French doors come together near the ground. It was a mouse, who scurried across my living room floor and forced me to scramble onto a tall barstool and scream “EEEEK!” (I know. I know. It seems ridiculously cartoonish to scream “EEEEK!” at a little old mouse, especially when I’ve encountered dozens of them over the years, but I do it anyway. Every time.)
The mouse dashed under a bookcase. I planned my counterattack.
A broom was the only available weapon at hand. It seemed a good choice. I could smash the mouse to smithereens if it got near me. Or maybe, just maybe, I could use the broom to encourage him to run out the door he’d just come in, which I opened wide. I returned to the barstool and waited.
It wasn’t long before the mouse darted out from under the bookcase and disappeared under the couch. Now what? It was only ten o’clock in the morning and I’d planned to do at least a little sitting on that couch sometime during the day. Not to mention my plans to use the kitchen and office and bathroom. How could I function with a mouse on the loose?
There was only one solution. And it wasn’t a broom.
I went to the back door and called “kitty, kitty, kitty.” Watson appeared. At first, he refused to come in the house, staring at me as if to say “Hey…I thought I was an outside cat.” But he eventually sauntered in and sprawled out in a sunny spot beneath the windows.
“There’s a mouse in here!” I said in my best no-nonsense voice. “Find it!”
And you know what? Watson soon positioned himself between the couch and the wall. He was perfectly still except for a slight twitching of his tail. Thinking it best to leave him alone, I went upstairs. I heard some banging and rustling and then things grew quiet. When I returned to the living room a few minutes later, Watson was sitting on the couch calmly washing his face. Did that mean the mouse was dead? And if it was dead, where was it? If Watson was washing his face, that meant he’d killed and eaten it, right?
Clearly, it was time to phone a friend. Who better to give advice about animals than JB, who majored in biology at Tennessee Tech and knows just about everything there is to know about critters in the house, having removed from her cabin in the woods countless bats, birds, flying squirrels, regular squirrels, chipmunks and more mice than I can even imagine.
“If Watson’s not on high alert, I’d say the deed is done,” JB told me. “Washing his face is a good sign. Leave him inside for a few minutes and see if he goes back into hunting mode.”
He didn’t. The next time I checked on him, Watson was up on the kitchen counter nonchalantly licking a stick of butter. I thanked him for his service and put him outside where he belongs. Then I threw the butter away. A week has passed with no mouse sightings. No dead mouse odor, either.
Watson, you’re forever my hero.
(December 5, 2020)