What Spring Means to Me: Dead Rodents

E.O. Schaub

Spring is here; I know this for several reasons. One is the fact that Scarlotta’s Car Hop and Diner’s sign says so. Also, the maple sap has been running, and sap houses everywhere are venting great marshmellow clouds of steam. The other day we heard birds- real birds!- singing their songs outside our windows and instantly it felt as if a long-lost, dear relative had returned. The constant, drumming sound of March showers, and their thunderous ensuing runoff is always a sure indicator of Spring, too.

Also, around our house, there’s the multiplicity of dead and dying rodents. This time of year they turn up scattered randomly throughout the house, kind of like an Easter Egg hunt designed by Hannibal Lecter. Take this morning. I was walking down the basement steps to the garage when I came to the abrupt realization that I was not alone. (Cue the ominous music.) Sadly, it was true. Murray the Mouse had left this mortal coil at the foot of our basement steps and lay there for all the world looking like a tiny piece of furry driftwood. He was perfectly in-tact, four tiny paws extended straight out as if he hoped to be used as a dollhouse coffee-table after his departure, clearly the victim of a progressive, neuro-muscular, stress-related, nervous-seizure-heart-breakdown-attack-spasm. (Mice get those a lot, you know. Being a mouse is extraordinarily stressful.) As he lay there on his side, finally at peace, I knew that our two cats could not be suspected of foul play in this tragic event. Firstly, because they are not allowed in the basement. Secondly, because no one had attempted to chew little Murray’s face off. In fact, Murray actually looked astonishingly good, for a dead mouse. A little petrified around the whiskers, but still.

I couldn’t say the same of the poor fellow I found yesterday, next to the bathmat, dear me. The only reason I knew that pathetic little puddle of blood and fur had ever been a mouse at all is the fact that the cats had executed his hapless brother the night before that and of course I instantly recognized the distinct similarily in the kink of their tails. (Plus his name was Milfred, and that is actually a very common mouse name.) It was clear Milfred never really had a chance, as half his body was noticably missing, and plump little piles of organs were distributed about the linoleum like gifts from a particularly small and twisted Santa.

As for Milfred’s brother, Marshall, I came upon that scene, the night before in the living room. At that time, the cats were in the process of batting his limp, lifeless body about in that adorable, playful manner that cats have when they hope their prey is still, perhaps, just alive enough to play “You’re IT!” one more time, before they get down to the adorable, playful business of extracting all it’s organs through it’s nostrils with nothing but a stainless steel crochet hook and a feather toy.

So of course by the time I found Murray in the basement, suddenly happening upon dead rodents no longer was causing me to scream as if I had just stepped on a carpet tack. No, this time, I just screamed like I had stepped on a regular tack. In fact, my husband has begun to get used to the periodic screaming, which is inevitably followed by me finding him, wherever he is including other continents, and begging him to clean the sad, tragic, icky, soul-petrifying thing up.

Which he usually does. Which is nice, and probably one of the top three reasons we make a good couple. Every once in a while, he forgets, or is away for a protracted period of time to someplace where I can’t reach him, like the moon, and I have to clean the sad, horrible, disguting, putrifying little thing with a snout up myself, and really, there ought to be a YouTube video of this somewhere because I am pretty sure it would constitute one of the more hilarious things you could ever see. First, I get an empty Kleenex box or dustpan or roof rake or other thing-which-means-I-don’t-have-to-remotely-touch-it. Then, with as much of my body as far away from the little fuzzy dog-dropping shaped animal as humanly possible, I acrobatically attempt to scoot the body (shudder) onto said hard object without actually touching it or coming personally close to it myself in any way. Once this has been achieved, I can run swiftly, but oh-so-steadily, to the nearest loo and flush the little guy off to his great reward in the septic tank in the sky. Then, whatever object was employed in this endeavor is promptly burned in the front yard. As far as I can tell, the primary reason for my odd behavior is this: despite all my husband’s assurances to the contrary, I am pretty sure that one of these days a mouse will suddenly wake up and yell “Surprise!”, at which point I promptly plan to fall over dead.

In the event this ever transpires, I woud like to request that all crochet hooks and feather toys be removed from within feline reach, just in case. Thank you.