*Please note… I really wish I had decent drawing skills. Sadly, the ‘perfect’ illustrations I have in my head for this story don’t seem to transfer to paper. You’ll just have to use your imagination.
Something interesting was always happening on the farmstead growing up; if it didn’t involve the animals, it involved us kids… or both.
Picture if you will, a 6th grade Me, shortly out of the hospital after having my appendix removed… in fact, it was the first night back home. Back in the day, an appendectomy involved cutting a person open, not that nifty laparoscopic stuff they do now, and I had been away for… oh, somewhere around a week, give or take. It was Novemberish and that meant that the mice had moved into the house for the coming winter.
I shared a room with my younger sister and was thrilled at the prospect of sleeping in my own bed once again, even if it was a bunk bed. Mom suggested perhaps I sleep in the lower bunk (my sister’s bed) for a while due to having a 6″ slice in my side, laced up with black thread. Blasphemy! I couldn’t possibly sleep in her bed, the Lower Bunk of all things! If I did, I would relinquish my Power Position as owner of the coveted Top Bunk! If the room ceiling had been higher and I had been shorter, you can bet that I would have stood on my bed, proclaiming dominion over all I surveyed in the confines of those four walls… and perhaps a bit of the hallway.
No, I would not fall for this clever ploy to usurp my control of the Top Bunk. My battle cry of “NEVER!” echoing through the hall and down the stairs. I was fine. Perfectly fine… it was just a flesh wound.
Evening fell and bedtime was at hand. I was sore, putting on my pajamas in that hunched-over stance someone in abdominal agony takes on. Standing up straight pulled the stitches and I was not happy about that. I stood at the side of the bed and looked up at the top bunk. How was I going to do this?
When I wasn’t missing vestigial organs, I had a quick route up to my bunk. Step on the lower bunk while holding one of the spindles of the bookcase headboard; step up onto the desk beside the bunk and then swing my legs up onto the bed. Easy Peasy.
I reached to the bookcase spindles and felt the searing pain in my right side. Nope. That wasn’t going to work. I stood once more alongside the bunks. Surely there had to be a way to do this without pain and injury. I decided that I would step up onto my desk chair, one of those heavy, oak, four-legged, old-school type desk chairs. I tentatively stepped up with my left, then my right foot. I was steady and triumphant. Success!
My next goal was to reach the top of the desk; which had one of those slippery laminate tops, and I was a fan of socks. Socks are slippery, but I was confident. I summoned courage and held onto the bed frame as I stepped gingerly onto the top of the desk; with both feet planted firmly I allowed a grin to settle on my lips.
The biggest haul was next, from the top of the desk to the top bunk. The distance from the floor to the desktop was just as long, but I had a chair to step on to get me there. This next and final part of the process would require me to get myself the same distance without aid of another step. I took a deep breath, I planted my left hand on the bed and with the right, I reached over and grasped a spindle firmly in my hand. I swung my left leg up onto the covers and pulled as I shoved off the desk with my right foot, hoping I wouldn’t blow a stitch in the process. Exhausted and satisfied that I’d made my way onto the Top Bunk, I lifted my shirt and looked at the angry, red gash with black threads. No blood, no oozing, no popped stitches and my other organs were still in place.
Content that I wasn’t going to burst apart, I flipped back my covers and…. screamed. A dark, furry “something” shot across my bed and ensconced itself between some books on my headboard. I was trapped. TRAPPED! There I was, swaying precariously in the air on the Top Bunk trapped with a mouse; any fast move on my part would surely cause me to blow a gasket, sending me right back to the hospital to have my organs properly arranged and stitched in place once again. I squealed for my brother to come from his room; while my brother and I didn’t often see eye-to-eye on much (more like “anything”) this was too much for me to handle in my delicate state. I squealed again that there was a mouse on my bed and he had to get it.
Now, my brother, bless him, is a great person (I think that now… then, well… different story), but he didn’t believe me and my tale of a mouse on my bed. So I cautiously lifted the book it was hiding under and it squeaked and I squealed. Convinced, he said he’d come back to get it, he had to get some gloves. While I waited, I inspected my bed, and found where said mouse had chewed into my comforter and little mouse turds in my bed. Thanks, Mouse.
I heard voices at the bottom of the stairs, my Mom and brother were heading up to my room. I was to be rescued! I readied myself to be relieved of this furry interloper. I looked up to the door to see my Mom and brother standing there with… a cat?
Dear Readers, imagine my surprise at seeing my brother standing there, holding a big black and white tomcat we had named, Cappers. My brother said, “I don’t want to touch the mouse… and I figured Cappers could catch it and eat it.” Touché, Brother, touché.
I moved back, brother set Cappers on the bed in front of the mouse and the book was lifted. The look of sheer terror on the face of the mouse would have broken the spirit of mere mortals, but that little bastard had pooped in my bed! Get him, Cappers!
Cappers, however, had other plans. You see, Cappers was a barn cat, and the weather at this time was cold, and he’d just been taken inside of the house and set onto a relatively warm and squishy bed. Oh, no… Cappers was not in any state of mind for catching mice. Cappers looked at the mouse and began “making biscuits” on the bed.
The bunk beds were tucked into a corner of the room that had a tall casement window, and when I would wake in the morning, I could look out to the west and see the world. At night when it was dark, the window had a mirror effect on the inside, and Cappers discovered that his reflection was visible. He took a few steps towards the window, the mouse ignored in lieu of his gorgeous visage staring back at him from the window and he laid down Sphinx-like before his reflection and gazed.
The mouse, thoroughly confused, spun and turned in confusion. On the bed was a large, apparently vain, tomcat that would eat him and an hysterical 11-yr old. Where to go? What to do?
My brother had grabbed the pair of leather gloves he’d brought with the cat and donning them, reached toward the mouse. It bolted… at him. My brother was quick and blocked the launch, nearly catching the mouse in his other hand. The mouse fell onto the desk, there was scrambling. My Mom, yelled, “Catch it!” I was perched on the Top Bunk, surveying this battle without aid of field glasses. The last we saw of that mouse was it scooting out the door and into the hallway. We think it made its way into my brother’s room, but we’ll never know.
Cappers, ignoring all the hullabaloo continued to stare at himself in the window until my brother picked him up to take him back outside to the barn. Of course, Cappers was no fool; as my brother slipped his hands beneath his belly, Cappers claws came out and he clung to the sheets. We unhooked him, one claw at a time, until my brother had him firmly in hand.
My bed was stripped, with me still on it, and new sheets procured. The bed was made, plans to repair the mouse-damage to my comforter put in place and I finally laid down to sleep. My bed was now mouse and mouse-poop-free and I could dream of creative ways to get out of the Top Bunk without injury.