Just a baby, really, swimming frantically, - and hopelessly trying to gain purchase on the slippery walls. Happily, its panic, like itself, was short-lived. But to think of that little bit of furry life just performing the astounding feat of climbing up the outside of the toilet bowl, only to end up as it did.
What might have attracted it, do you think? What irresistible scent? Was it the half-fermented middle-of-the-night pee? – unflushed to keep the peace – a pee resulting from the earlier middle-of-the-night hot toddy of Irish whiskey?
Perhaps the recycled whiskey gave off an inviting aroma – a promise of warmth on the cold, minus 20 degrees Celsius Toronto night. And what a lousy lie was that promise, when, after hours of futile attempts to escape Lake Urea, there he was, underneath me, who was still half-asleep after the whiskey-induced late rising, bombarding him with my morning business very quickly and efficiently (for which, by the way, I give solemn thanks).
There was just one funny little second, right before I dropped the toilet paper in behind me. What was that strange tiny noise? My ears are sharp, and when you’re in the house alone, you notice things. There was a very small “blip” in the water, but it happened before I dropped the paper. So what would do that?, I wondered.
Then I stood up, and even without my glasses, could see that there was one dark bit of product that seemed to have a tail.
That’s when panic, his expressed in mad scurrying to get out of foecal hell, became mine as well, as I flashed back to all the horrible incidents I’d experienced during my country living sojourn. I won’t go into them all – the dead bodies floating in the dishwater; the carcass, still in the trap, inside my boot when I put my foot inside (I’d been looking everywhere for that trap!); the pellets inside the wall logs drilled for electric wires; the green mouse shit everywhere after I laid out those nourishing green ‘poison’ bars; the spaghetti in the typewriter – this after I’d told myself to stop whining about problems and do something positive, like writing, only to find that the keys wouldn’t work. Pasta in the carriage will do that. There was also the pails of water with a tempting bit of peanut butter on a tin can that revolved on a wire above the abyss. Sort of a throwback to the loggers of the county who used to try and stay upright on the river logs, except loggers could do it, and the mice, well…. lots of them spun like crazy and ‘fell’ for that homemade trap; they ended up on ‘dead mouse hill’. And then, the piece de resistance – the day I came home starving – threw a piece of bread in the toaster, ate it, then threw another one in, and had the most revolting smell go through the house. One toasting wasn’t enough, apparently, but two really cooked that greedy guts who crawled right into the electric elements and got caught there. I had to throw out the toaster, of course.
All these memories in one lightening flash, but my anti-rodent reflexes were even faster, slamming the toilet cover down and flushing before the message even got to my brain of having hovered over the vile creature and having exposed my most vulnerable self to his desperate reaching. One swoosh, and it was over.
I washed my hands and face, and regained my calm, humming a childhood rhyme: “Here I sit a-sewing, in my little housie; nobody comes to see me, except my little mousie” & saying to myself - really, you'd think the mouse population in the whole of Ontario Would know by now: if you enter my house, you don’t ever get out alive.