Warning: The following story may not be suitable for small children or those with weak stomachs. If you're eating while you read, any adverse consequence are not my fault. Remember, you have been warned.
Just before bedtime one night, I was sitting in the recliner in my office, reading. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something little and gray run across the floor and disappear under the printer stand in the corner. Trying to convince myself that I hadn't really seen a mouse, I went to bed.
When the phone rang a few minutes later and I had to go into the office to answer it, I made sure to walk as loudly as bare feet allowed, just to scare off anything small and scampering that might possibly be in there in the dark.
Two days later, needing to give a drink to the thirsty pansies out on the deck, I grabbed the watering can from under the kitchen sink. It was already full because, thrifty soul that I am, I empty half-finished water bottles into it instead of dumping them down the drain. When I watered the pansies, the water didn't seem to come out of the spout properly, but I thought it was just because I was tipping the can too far. I also caught a whiff of an unpleasant odor that I hadn't previously associated with pansies.
After the can was empty, I noticed that something gray seemed to be stuck in the spout. It took me a minute to realize what alert readers have no doubt already figured out—the gray thing was a drowned mouse. I banged the watering can on the deck railing to shake the dead little critter loose, then tried to dump it out. Instead of falling out of the rather small opening at the top of the can, it got stuck in the spout again.
I am not afraid of mice. I don't consider myself especially squeamish about critters in general, even dead ones. I am a practical, prairie-raised woman who knows how to clean a fish and pluck a chicken. But at this point I lost it. There was something about the pathetic little dead feet hanging out of the spout of the watering can that was pitiful and disgusting at the same time.
I threw the mouse, watering can and all, off the deck into the back yard.
After I recovered from my spasm of disgust, I told myself to look on the bright side. With the combination of 100-degree heat, ants, and other scavengers, I should be able to recover the watering can in a couple of weeks. And at least the mouse was gone.
That evening, just before bedtime, I walked into my office to shut down the computer. Out of the corner of my eye, I saw something little and gray run along the wall.
Epilogue: Three weeks later
The second mouse succumbed with gratifying promptness to an easy-to-set and—far more important—easy-to-empty contraption named "A Better Mousetrap." So far, I haven't spotted any more little gray critters. (At least not moving ones; dust bunnies don't count.)
But watering the house plants just doesn't work as well with the recycled juice bottle I've been using. For some reason, I haven't wanted to use the watering can. It's still out there in the yard.