The Intruder

“Lemme out! Lemme out! Let. Me. OUT!!!” 

My 6-year-old was shrieking as she madly fumbled with her seatbelt in a desperate attempt to flee the vehicle.

She, my husband, mother and I, had just returned to our car, parked on a small town street. It was late - past 10pm - and the sounds of the post-symphony gathering we had just departed, covered the damp grass like a blanket.

As my husband helped my daughter into her booster seat, my mother spotted something scuttling up one of the black sweaters I had elegantly draped over the front passenger seat headrest (in case of a late July flash-freeze).

Because the flickering streetlight on the corner provided a less than satisfying glow, the only opportunities to see inside of the car, were during the brief moments when the doors were ajar.

“There,” my mother urged, “A tail.”

My animal-loving daughter’s eyes grew wide as my husband who - head dizzy with Mozart’s Piano Concerto No. 20 - offered, “It was probably just a moth.” Still, he poked at the pullovers before taking his seat behind the steering wheel as my mom and I walked to the other side of the Volvo.

It wasn’t as though we didn’t have cause for concern. After all, in recent months, our car had become the most expensive mousetrap ever conceived. In the winter - after discovering tiny turds - we drove around with our pants securely bunched up inside our socks. In the spring, we cleared the car of vermin by regularly covering the floors with cheese-filled traps, thus creating the best (and worst) rodent restaurant ever. Summer had been pretty uneventful, with only the odd poop popping up unexpectedly with nary a trace of the perpetrator…

I opened my door, once again triggering the interior lights. Then, from the backseat, a guttural noise 
spewed forth from my girl, who was either terrified or exhilarated.

“UUUGGGUOOOOOHHH!!!!!!!”

The mouse was sitting on my headrest; head poking out of the sleeve of my sweater. I froze while staring at the black-eyed beast, taking note of his wiry whiskers, and teensy toes.

My husband spoke slowly, with purpose.

“BACK UP.”

Then, he took his hand from the steering wheel, reached over and slapped the heck out of the pint-sized trespasser. Without a sound, the mouse whizzed by my face, ricocheted off of the car door, grazed my shoulder and fell onto the soggy ground, landing beside my open-toed, sandal-clad foot.

The quivering streetlight provided just enough light for my mom and I to watch the stunned, yet remarkably lively creature scurry into the darkness while my daughter – now calm – lamented, “Oh. But I wanted to keep him.” 




Image: beverley barker

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