I hate it when my wife says it like that. I have been married to her long enough to detect the subtle variations in her “uh-ohs”.
When she draws out the ‘h’, it usually indicates something expensive is about to happen. Her latest “uhhh-ohhh” occurred when a drop of water landed on her head on the way downstairs. The plumbing repairs cost us a second mortgage.
When she draws out the vowels like she just did, it implies a threat.
“What is it?” I asked.
“I think Kelso sees something on the curtain.”
Kelso is the cat we named after Ashton Kutcher’s character on That 70’s Show because he is beautiful but stupid.
“What curtain?” I asked.
“The one above the patio door.”
Sure enough. A mouse balanced above the door, his little nose barely visible through the folds of the curtain.
“I don’t see anything,” I said. Denial is my favorite tactic.
Just then Peaches, our second cat, entered the room. He too glared at the curtain.
“Uuuuuh-ooh, now I see it,” she said, “Get that icky thing out of here!”
I wanted to ask, why me? But I knew better, so I went into the kitchen to arm myself with a broom.
I don’t like killing mice. Really I don’t. I don’t enjoy killing anything. It’s not that I am against deadly force, it’s more that I prefer to employ other means. So I gave the little guy an out. I opened the patio door.
He wouldn’t move. Who could blame him? Moonlight lit the snow and a hungry owl hooted in the woods. Besides that, it was -15F and I wouldn’t go out there either – but I noticed something else. There was a familiarity in his reluctance to leave.
“I don’t think I can kill him,” I told my wife, “He looks like my Uncle Max.”
“Max believed deeply in reincarnation and he always enjoyed visiting us.”
“You have got to be kidding me..”
“No, I am not. Look at his nose.”
My wife got off the couch and slowly made her way across the room, stopping at each step to squint at the mouse.
“Uuh, ooh, he does look like Max.”
“And check out the size of the hairs growing out of his ears.” Max never trimmed his ear hairs.
“It is Max,” she whispered, “but why would he come back as a mouse?”
“He always made lousy decisions, “ I explained.
“What are you going to do?”
“I dunno,” I said, “but we better make sure it is who we think it is before we do anything.”
I had the perfect test. I picked up the newspaper and opened the front page: the mouse barely moved. Next I revealed the community section: no reaction. Then the business section: nothing.
Finally, I unfolded the sports section. The mouse scampered to the end of the curtain rod. He sat on his haunches, twitching his nose as he examined the box scores containing the NBA results from the previous evening. Max loved the NBA.
“Oooooh. Myyyy. God! What are we going to do now?” my wife exclaimed.
“I’ll knock him out into the snow,” I said. “It shouldn’t hurt him a bit.”
“Could you really do that to one of your relatives?”
I looked at her sideways. “Do you want me to put him up in the guest room instead?”
She shook her head no.
I tossed the newspaper aside and took up the broom. The blow knocked him into the snow – but instead of running to safety, Max scurried the other way – toward the newspaper where the NBA results lay face up.
The sight of a mouse streaking across the threshold sent Kelso into hysterics. He went airborne. Normally, a cat can handle such acrobatics but Kelso is too fat to do that safely. He spun out of control, yowling helplessly as he tumbled through the air.
To avoid being squashed by Kelso, Peaches dove for cover and in the ensuing chaos my wife jumped up on the couch….
I brought the broom down hard on Max’s head.
“OOOH, NOO!” my wife cried, “You killed Max.”
“I had to,” I confessed, “like I said, he never could make good decisions.”