I’ve Got To Be A Macho

At 11 pm on a school night and in the space of ten minutes, max:

My phone rings. It’s the upstairs tenant from the other side of the house. Her voice is trembling.

Kathy: Is Pete there?

Tata: He is!

Kathy: I caught a mouse under a wastebasket in my bathtub. How did he get in my bathtub? I don’t know how it got there, but it’s there and I’m terrified –

Tata: We’re on it! [To Pete] Kathy caught a mouse in her bathtub.

Pete: [Reading juicy gossip on Facebook] Goddammit!

Kathy: – if you guys weren’t home I didn’t know what I was going to do. What if you guys were away for the weekend? Was I going to leave it there? I didn’t know –

Pete: Grrrr grrrr grrrr….

Tata: [To Kathy] Oh, I know! Oh, I know! [To Pete] Get up, I’m goddamm Sybil Fawlty!

Kathy: – how I could take showers and what if mice were in my closets and can he come up here and help me?

Tata: He’ll be up in a minute.

Kathy: Okay.

Pete got up and made for the basement. Over his shoulder, he said, “Tell her I’m getting gloves,” which seemed mysterious until I heard a door slam on the other side of the house. Out in the hall, Kathy was sweating and nearly hyperventilating. Makeup formed generous rings around her eyes. I ushered her into our house.

Tata: Pete’s gone to get gloves. Come in, come in, please! Can I get you a glass of water?

Kathy: No, thank you.

Pete marched past us grimly, gloved hands in front of his face like a surgeon on his way to the operating theater. I opened the door for Ben Casey and Kathy cycled through her story again.

Kathy: I caught a mouse under a wastebasket in my bathtub. How did he get in my bathtub? I don’t know how it got there, but it’s there and I was terrified –

Tata: How about a glass of water?

Kathy: – if you guys weren’t home I didn’t know what I was going to do. What if you guys were away for the weekend? Was I going to leave it there? I didn’t know –

Tata: You really don’t want a glass of water?

Kathy:  – how I could take showers and what if mice were in my closets? How would a mouse even get into my bathtub? Did it come through the pipes? After I found mouse droppings in my kitchen, I put everything into plastic containers. There’s nothing for the mouse to eat, so how did it get there –

I got up, put ice into a rocks glass, poured cool, filtered water and handed it to Kathy in the living room. She took a sip and noticed three black cats had come to see her. The blind kitten scampered off, breaking Kathy’s concentration.

Kathy: She just walked away! How does she know where to go? She’s in the kitchen!

Tata: She runs, jumps and plays. She’s really smart.

Kathy: How does she know where the furniture is?

Tata: She remembers.

Kathy: Who is this one?

Tata: That’s Topaz. She normally doesn’t engage with new people but –

From the other side of the house, we both hear BAM! BAM BAM! BAM! Neither of us flinches.

Tata: – she likes you a whole lot. Drusy over there is our hunter. We’ll be happy to lend you a cat if you have this problem again. Drusy and Sweetpea would make short work of any mouse problem.

A door slams, then the front door slams.

Kathy: Drusy? She seems so tiny.

Tata: Yeah, but she’s ferocious.

The front door slams again. Pete walks through the front door.

Pete: Well, next time, we’ll lend you a cat. They love this stuff.

Kathy: They catch mice?

Pete: Yep. Sometimes, Drusy runs by with a victim in her mouth.

Tata: It’s hard to hear, what with all the screaming.

Kathy: The mouse?

Tata: No, me.

Pete: I cleaned up the tub and took the mouse out to the garbage.

Kathy: Thank you, thank you!

Cats: Amateur!

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