Of Mice and Man

It is time once again to visit the strange and mysterious world that is the wild animal nature kingdom.

Regular viewers of this channel will recall the epic battle between Samuel Skunk and myself (Skunked) last summer. Well, after my resounding victory over Samuel, nature fought back with a vengeance over the winter.

We have a camper trailer that needs to be stored every winter. It’s the kind of trailer that you crank up and fold out the canvas to form the bedrooms. Last winter, we stored it at a friends place in the country because he has lots of room on his land for such things. I picked up our trailer on Canada Day and hauled it back to our place to get it ready for a fun-filled summer of carefree camping, except for the mosquitoes. And the black flies, and the raccoons, and the bears, and the mean beach lifeguards, and the outhouses, and lack of other amenities like air conditioning.

Anyway, the following day, my children had some of their cousins over for a sleepover and they asked (no, they didn’t really ask, I’m just being polite is all, they begged and whined and harangued) us if they could sleep in the trailer.

After I got them to do their chores, I said, “sure.” As I was cranking up the roof of the trailer, I observed that one of the window curtains didn’t look quite right in the sense that it was torn all to shreds.

My niece, who was watching, suddenly screamed in the way that only an eleven year old niece can scream, namely, like a banshee.

“A mouse, a mouse,” was what she was screaming. “I saw a mouse. There’s a mouse in your trailer Uncle Nick,” she continued screaming.

Keen listener that I am, I concluded that there was a mouse in the trailer and that he, or she, was the culprit responsible for the shredded up curtains. I finished cranking the trailer up as my brain formed thoughts like “uh oh,” and “I am not afraid of mice, I am not afraid of mice.”

Feeling all cranked up, I ventured inside the trailer. A quick left-to-right visual scan revealed three holes in the canvas, a “nest” chewed into one of the mattresses, and three curtains all torn to shreds. Another quick right-to-left olfactory scan revealed overpowering evidence that the inside of our trailer had been used for “toidy” all winter long.

Then I spied the mouse. It was a terribly small mouse, no larger than your standard issue ping-pong ball. As I turned to leave the trailer to get a box to knock the mouse into, I felt something fall onto my shoulder. I looked and saw the biggest mouse in the world, with giant fangs and claws and enormous eyes on my shoulder. I exited the trailer screaming like a manshee, flailing away at my shoulder as I ran down the street.

After I regained my dignity, I ventured back into the trailer armed with work gloves, a stick and a box. Overcoming my fear of giant man-eating mice, I successfully captured and released three small deer mice. I saw a fourth mouse but it eluded capture. Since it was getting dark, I gave up for the night and took a cold shower.

The next morning I called our insurance company on the off chance that mouse-induced damage was covered under my policy. To my great surprise our policy did have a clause that covered such damage. It was under the “entertainment hilarity” paragraph: “Repair of damage caused by small woodland creatures will be reimbursed if and only if the discovery of said damage results in the vehicle owner making a spectacle of himself in front of all of his neighbors.”

I was confident that my claim would be approved given all of the witnesses I had from the previous evening.

I went back into the trailer to flush out the last mouse. I finally found him (or her) in one of the cupboards. As I started emptying out the cupboard, I discovered that the last mouse was in fact four mice, four mice that formed a seething writhing mass of gray fur that was bent on devouring me. To be absolutely sure that my claim would be approved I ran down the street again screaming like a manshee.

So I decided to leave the mice alone and wait for the appraiser to appraise the damage. When he arrived, the presence of the mice inside the trailer didn’t seem to bother him at all. He took some pictures, smelled the air and said that he would write the trailer off since it would cost more to repair the damage than the current denuded present book value of the trailer.

I was stunned. Write the entire trailer off for the sake of a bit of chewing by a small family of smelly vermin?

He only had one question before he would authorize the issuance of a check.

“To qualify under the entertainment hilarity clause, did you run down the street screaming like a manshee in front of all your neighbors?” he asked.

“Yes,” I replied, “twice.”

I am expecting the check sometime next week.

Nick Burn is a freelance writer, husband, father of three, engineer, teacher, and webmaster for the Canadian Catholic Information Network. In his spare time (hah!), he enjoys camping, skiing and reading.

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