By Bob Huber: Local Columnist
Here at the Old Reporters’ Retirement Home, I’m spicing up each day by writing a horror story. It’s a TV documentary inspired by an actual event. Hollywood will love it. It’ll star Arnold Schwarzenegger. I call it “Gnaws.”
The actual event went like this: We remodeled our house one time, and field mice moved in. I’m not talking about one or two. They plagued us for three months. I still hear the rumbling beat of ominous music when I think of them—“Bum, bum. Bum, bum.”
Before I go anywhere near dark corners in our house, I still scan for mutated, monstrous rodents, their noses twitching, their beady eyes staring stoically at me. I know the loathsome beasts are somewhere in those shadows, waiting to pounce and drag me screaming to their lair like Gulliver at the hands of Lilliputians.
Years after this incident took place, my wife, Marilyn, still shuddered when Tom and Jerry cartoons came on TV. She always said, “Why do things like this happen to us?” I just shrugged. I think it was space aliens from Roswell, but I didn’t tell Marilyn.
Anyway, the first thing you learn about mice is, you should never knock down an outside wall and expose your house to the great outdoors for a few days. That’s when mice move in. The second thing is, when you finish the project and seal the wall back up, you trap the little critters inside your house. And they have sex. Boy, do they have sex.
Within a month their offspring, also trapped in the house, have sex, too. The upshot is, each pair has about a dozen youngsters, who in turn have another dozen before you get your bill for mousetraps from your friendly hardware store.
The first inkling we had of our problem was when our granddaughter Penny visited us, and a mouse played trapeze on a hanging lamp in the kitchen. Marilyn screamed, Penny screeched, and I drove downtown for hunting supplies. I came back with a pith helmet, shotgun shells, mousetraps and a wealth of local folklore on how to rid my life of vermin.
One particular solution struck me as unique. A fun-loving store clerk told me to place small bowls of Coca-Cola hither and yon about the house. The clerk swore it worked, because mice don’t have the capability to belch, he said, and they blow up.
I wanted to believe, so I bought a case of Coke.
I remember distinctly telling Marilyn I hoped the neighbors weren’t hit by any shrapnel, but I lost my enthusiasm when no explosions occurred. That’s when we bought the fly swatters.
Marilyn insisted on her own swatter. She even fashioned a shoulder holster. I shook my head and said I could handle all the swatting, because I was the man of the house, there to protect her, and a man had to do what a man had to do. She said,
“What if they do you first?”
We lost count of our kill. The situation blended into a giant hodgepodge of Walt Disney nightmares. That’s when I pledged, my left hand on Webster’s, “No more. We can’t even open doors. From now on, we come and go through the fireplace chimney.”
“Good grief!” Marilyn cried, gripping her swatter like Wyatt Earp. “Are you telling me you failed to seal the chimney?”
I’m not positive Arnold can tear himself away from Sacramento, Calif., long enough to star in the movie version, but I’m sure he’ll want to do the right thing. After all, a man’s gotta do what a man’s gotta do. “Bum, bum. Bum, bum.”