Mmmmmmmmm, Coco Popsssssss! Drifting back to sleep I vaguely recalled the chocolate mousse I had ordered for lunch.
My reverie was broken by the sound of little bells. I looked up and Gizelle was gliding across the sand with my order in hand. She was radiant, as usual.
She placed the small bowl and a spoon on the table adjacent to my lounge chair and cooed, “Your mouse, sir. Will there be anything else?”
I looked up at Gizelle’s tanned face framed by golden hair, limpid pool blue eyes, totally vacant.
“Gizelle,” I chided gently like an old professor deciding whether the hot, nubile young student standing before him deserved an ‘A’ or perhaps a ‘B+’, “enunciate, sweetie, enunciate. That’s moooooooooooose like the animal, not mouse like the, uh, like the, er, well, not mouse.”
Gizelle averted her eyes and pouted. “Mouse,” she said.
Patiently, I pressed further. “Moooooooooooooooose. Mooooooooooooose, not mouse. Say moooooooooooooose.”
This time Gizelle looked directly at me, put her hands on her hips and said, clearly, and a bit too loud, “Mouse!”
Then, drawing closer to me, she raised her voice, shouting, “Mouse!!!!”
She began to scream as her face, pulled into a horrifying grimace, her teeth glistening in the sun and her eyes bugging out of her head as she shrieked, “Mouse!! MOUSE !!! M O U S E ! ! ! !”
I opened my eyes. The ceiling fan was turning slowly. The beach was gone. The trees were gone. Gizelle was gone. I was lying on the couch. All was well.
Well, not quite.
From the direction of the kitchen I heard shouting.
“Mouse! Mouse in the house! Come deal with the mouse! Four Legs!!”
Ah, rats, so to speak. “Four Legs.” That code phrase invoked Article 5: Dealing with Creatures in the House.
I was called into action; there was no getting around it. I got up off the couch and looked around for my shoes.
This Article was written early in our marriage to define clearly the roles and responsibilities for catching, cleaning up and disposing of uninvited or unexpected pests and vermin including but not exclusively snakes, mice, roaches, wasps, scorpions, centipedes, bugs and spiders. Article 5 was amended to include rabbits and dogs, except for Bichon Frises which are covered by the Volvo Accord of 1997.
My responsibility entails all creatures with four legs or less, and her responsibility is the rest of the animal kingdom also known as the Creepy Side.
You see, I don’t mind our vertebrate friends and am quite comfortable with rats, cats, mice, rabbits, bats, snakes, possums, birds, bobcats and, if the occasion presented itself, moose.
She, on the other hand, and I’ll never understand this, is at home with spiders and bugs to the point of actually practicing “catch and release.”
Not me! I am an adherent of the Garfield Doctrine. Give me a can of Raid and a blowtorch any day!
Article 5 has several amendments the most important of which is the “Original Leg Rule” which states that individual responsibility is a function of the original number of legs possessed by a creature, not the number of legs present at the call to action. Thus, for example, I could not be called to deal with a 4-legged spider.
The astute reader will recognize that this particular amendment was written following just such an occurrence after the party of the first part gleefully and willingly with malice aforethought took advantage of the party of the second part, who didn’t find the situation funny at all.
Pulling on my shoes I heard a more strident, “Four Legs!” and replied that I was on my way.
Walking into the kitchen all seemed calm. “Where’s the mouse?” I asked.
I looked down. Kink was crouched on the floor. His tail twitched slightly as he looked up at me and inquired, “Purrrr-yowww?”
In front of Kink was what looked like one of Sandy’s hair-balls, except that it sported a tiny tail. The hair-ball was breathing rapidly but otherwise not moving. It would be a fair observation that it was not a very happy hair-ball.
“Man, that’s one tiny mouse,” I said to Kink, “where’d you find this little guy?”
There was a shuffling behind me and a sheepish admission, “I let him in.”
“What do you mean you let him in? Who did you let in, Kink or the mouse?”
“Both. Kink was at the door and I didn’t notice that he had a mouthful of mouse, so I just let him in, he dropped the mouse and there they both are. So, be a dear, sweetie pie, and escort Mickey out, OK?”
“Not so fast,” I countered alerted by the ‘dear’ and the ‘sweetie pie’ in a single sentence, “This is a clear violation of Article 5 as specified by sub-paragraphs B and C which document that individual responsibilities covered by Article 5 are Null and Void if a party of the first or second part intentionally admits a pest into the domicile. You opened the door. You admitted Kink and Mickey. Your problem.”
“You’re going to stand there and tell me that I have to deal with Four Legs just because I failed to notice a wee little brown furry mouse hiding in Kink’s big brown furry mouth?”
“Yep, I think you got the picture,” I called back, giving myself a High Five. Cause work for me will you, we’ll see about that. I kicked off my shoes, settled back on the couch soon to be back on my tropical island.
Drifting, drifting ...
“Oh, just look at the size of that spider out there, Kink.”
I opened one eye and turned my head to hear more clearly.
“Yep, that’s a big old spider out there. What do you say we let it in the house. Maybe it would like to rest on the couch for a while. It must be tired carrying that big old spider body around.”
“You wouldn’t dare,” I called out, “That would be a violation of Article 5 and you’d have to deal with it ...”
I trailed off realizing the gravity of what I had just said.
From the kitchen I heard, “You deal with Mickey and maybe Shelob can stay outside and weave a web for Barky Dog, or something.”
“That’s blackmail!” I said, putting my shoes back on.
“No it’s not. It’s extortion. Get a move on before I change my mind.”
Back in the kitchen Mickey hadn’t moved a muscle. I picked him up by the tail.
“Come on, little guy, let’s go over so I can introduce you to the neighbor’s flower bed.”
As I went out the front door to take Mickey to his new home I noticed that Kink jumped up on the couch and settled down for a nap.