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The Story of Freddy

May 28, 2014

I am staying temporarily at my father’s house in the country. I am alone here, or so I thought.

One night I was at the kitchen table, where I have created sort of a studio, and was creating some new paintings, backgrounds for journal pages, that sort of thing. Suddenly in the corner of my eye I saw movement; a little mouse ran from the direction of the laundry room toward me. He stopped under the table. I bent over to see where he went, and he sat up like a little squirrel, and looked at me. I told him rather impolitely to move on, and he did.

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For at least a week, I saw him every day. He would come to my bedroom door, look in, then I would yell at him and he would dash off to the bathroom and hide behind the toilet. I decided to name him Freddy.

Each day when I returned home from my visits to the nursing home, I would call out to him, so he wouldn’t startle me!

“Okay,Freddy, I’m home,” I’d say. “Don’t be jumping out and scaring me.” I would do the same sort of thing when I moved into the dark bedroom at night, or went into the bathroom.

It seemed he liked to be wherever I was. I would find evidence of his presence only where I go every day: the guest room, the bathroom, the kitchen. Apparently he also liked to somehow get on the table where I paint, unaware that acrylic polymer is not good to eat. I never figured out why he followed me, unless it is because I might have scattered cookie crumbs. But I did see that he had been behind my bed next to the wall, and right out in the open. There was never any sign of him having been in any other part of the house or on the kitchen counter. He was quite consistent, and after peeking in to look at me each night, he would wait for me to yell at him, “Get OUT of here, Freddy,” then he’d run away.

I told my brother about Freddy. We discussed the fact that since we snake-proofed the house last year, the mice may come back and be free to roam unimpeded. He said he would pick up some green pellets and that would solve the problem. I assumed he meant after I leave. I decided I could tolerate Freddy, as long as I didn’t see his entire family or any other rodent visitors. He was small, and brown and kind of cute, actually. Most definitely an orphan, and he thought I was his mom.

One day when I came back, I saw “rat pills” in my bed. Freddy evidence. I examined them closely, still not wanting to believe he’d been up there. I mean, who’s ever heard of that? The next day I saw even more evidence, this time on the mattress base which sticks out a bit from under the mattress. (Okay, so I did eat cookies in bed one night, but still!) Wasn’t he the least bit afraid of me? Guess not. He clearly had no experience with people.

Early yesterday morning, 3:00 a.m. as it turned out, I was awakened by a fluttering of something right across my face. I slapped at it to throw it onto the floor, and switched the lamp on quickly.  There was Freddy, right in the middle of the floor, unhurt of course but I yelled at him; he ran into the bathroom. I slammed the bathroom door (aware that he could crawl under it if he wanted to) and closed the door to my room where the carpet would make it more difficult for him to sqeeze under.

I hardly slept the rest of the night, and I determined that I was going to buy some de-mousing product as soon as possible. To heck with friendship or waiting for my brother to handle it! As soon as I could yesterday, I went to the store and bought some D-con, and two little traps that you put peanut butter in and it traps the mouse alive. The idea is that then you put the sprung trap in the garbage, or set him free outside. I readied all this before dark and placed the items in areas where I knew he had been but not so that I would necessarily see them until I prepared myself first! In other words, I didn’t want to see some dead, or half-trapped struggling Freddy until I was up to it. And just in case, I again closed my bedroom door.

I felt bad about what I had done, but there wasn’t any real choice, right? Right? I mean, I really needed some sleep. I was safe inside my room, but as luck would have it, I needed another trip to the bathroom before I really could fall asleep. I thought I would just glance in, and if Freddy was in there behind the toilet I would just grab a roll of toilet paper, run out of the room and make sure the door was closed before I used the other bathroom and got back to safety.

I didn’t see him, but then I saw swirling water in the toilet. I wondered if the toilet was still running from hours earlier, but no. Poor desperate little Freddy. He was swimming as hard as he could, trying to get up the sides of the toilet, first this side, then the other side.

I stood there trying to think of a way to get him out. I needed a net or something. or a scoop, and I would put him into a bucket or something and carry him outside. But then I knew how quick he was and he would scramble away from me before I could do that I went to the laundry room and considered using a dustpan to help him. And then it dawned on me that there was no way I could remove him from that toilet really, and guarantee that the sopping wet Freddy wouldn’t end up in my bed again. I had, after all, been prepared to trap him or poison him and let him bleed to death.

Reality bites. I asked for forgiveness as I took the only alternative available. I flushed him. I watched as he helplessly spun down through the bottom of the toilet, telling myself it was a much better way to die. He would, I suspected, drown very quickly and before he had time to realize what was happening.

Last night I dreamed that he swam back up, and came back hairless from the ghastly septic tank experience. Each time I go into the bathroom, I make sure that hasn’t happened.

I kind of miss Freddy. I just didn’t want to sleep with him.

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