"Scout's got the mouse again. What should I do?"
Um...pop some popcorn, pull up a chair, and watch the show?
Of course, I couldn't say this to my mom when she called last night, in a panic yet again over what I am calling the Mousecapades '09.
Last weekend, I got a panicked call from Mom because that beloved cat that used to be mine but that is now living out her golden years in bliss with my mom caught and failed to kill a mouse that had gotten in the house.
The first call I got, Mom was laughing. Scout had been so excited by this first ever real live mouse catch that she was making trilling noises and joyful yawps all over the house as she played with her captured prey much the same way she plays with her little toy mice. She threw it in the air, she pinned down its tail nonchalantly with her paw to let it try in vain to make a run for it, she carried it in her mouth up and down the hall. She did everything but kill it, and this is mostly because Mom didn't want her to and helped her chase the mouse outside where it could die on its own and not cause a gory cadaver cleanup.
When I got off the phone with Mom, Jason had eavesdropped enough to know what was going on, and he burst into his best Kelly Clarkson imitation:
"A moment like this! Some kitties wait a lifetime..."
Because really, at nine years old, that was probably the highlight of Scout's feline existence.
I marvelled all week at the hidden power of house cats. We think we have them tamed, but they're really little killers. Scout has never had to kill in order to eat, and yet all her instincts were there. Who knew that her torturing skills could rival those of a Quentin Tarrantino hitman?
Sadly, though, the mouse did not stay outside to die among the petunias, and it did not learn its lesson. It got back in the house (it was not a solid-colored mouse so Mom recognized it by its markings) and the ensuing power struggle wasn't as funny the second time around.
For hours, Scout woolled this thing all over the house. By the time Mom called me she was begging Scout to just finish it off already.
"She gets it, and then she lets it go, and then she chases it under a piece of furniture, and then she chases it back out, and I just don't know what to do," Mom said. "I don't want her to eat it, but I don't want want it to die under the recliner, either."
"Just let her do her thing," I said. "She's a cat, and she'll kill it when she gets tired of playing with it. And then she'll bring it to you as an offering, so be ready for that."
Mom reluctantly agreed to stay out of the impending mouse-icide and told me she was going to curl up in bed and get away from the torture going on in the living room. I hung up and went about my evening.
Five minutes later, the phone rang.
"Lord, she just brought that mouse back to me in bed."
"Well, that's good, right? It's finally over. I told you that once she killed it she'd probably bring it to you as a gift."
There was a long pause on the other end.
"You don't understand," Mom whispered, as though she didn't want Scout to hear. "She set it on top of me...while it was still alive."
Okay, so clearly Scout just doesn't get how this is supposed to go.
I really didn't know what to say to my mom, who is a very brave woman and has had an array of wildlife invade her house in the 32 years she's lived there and who usually only panics over snakes. I couldn't tell whether she was taking the whole "mouse in the bed" thing well, or whether her very calm, quiet voice was because she was, medically speaking, in shock.
As of 10 last night, when I called hoping that I could go to bed knowing that Mickey had been well and thoroughly dispatched, Scout was still playing games with him. Mom was going to close her bedroom door and hope neither of the furry four-legged animals in the house joined her.
Because if there's anything more horrifying than sharing your bed with a cold-blooded assassin, it's sharing your bed with an assassin and her half-dead victim.