I used to own mice as a kid. I was about nine or ten or so years old. I bought them down at the pet shop on Jefferson, next to the Jefferson Bar on my way home from school. I was so excited to buy a mouse. I bought one at first. And then I started with another. And then another.
I put the mice in a box. My mother made me keep them in the garage. She was not too happy about my hobby. I bought the wood shavings to put into the box. I also had a small water bottle and a small bowl for food. I fabricated a top metal screen to keep the mice from escaping the cardboard box in which they lived.
We used to play with the mice. I had some friends, the Sebben boys, who lived around the block who had mice as well. They would fight their mice. I didn't like fighting the mice. They would match up wild mice with domesticated mice. Nasty stuff.
Sometimes my mice would fight on their own. It always made me upset to see them fight. They often would pick on one mouse too. It was harsh. I occasionally had to separate the mice. They were brutal. I didn't like the mice that picked on the one mouse, but they were usually peaceful with the exception of a few bad apples, and one really bad apple who was a killer. But that is another story.
I would cycle through mice. They would either die or escape. I owned many mice over the year or so. That was their lives pretty much. Sweet freedom or captive death in a box with a supply of muridae company, food, wood shavings and water.
Then a week after one certain mouse make a break for it, I decided to track this rodent down.The Bloody Side of Tough Love
So one of my favorite mice, Jerry, had taken a run for freedom. He chewed through the bottom of the cardboard box in which he had grown comfortable. Chewing through the wall was one of their favorite escape methods. Jumping over the side of the box when I took off the top was another favorite.
I had seen Jerry a few times making a run across the garage. I knew he decided to stay close by. But I needed to nab him. How to do this?
Simple. A shoebox, a stick and a string. I had seen it work a million times in the cartoons, and I knew it could work in real life. So I found a suitable box and had some kite string handy, and all I needed to do was make a stick. Being a city boy, I used a pencil. I grabbed my Buck knife which I had learned proper safety as a Cub Scout and my father. I grabbed the pencil and hacked off the tip. I then started to cut a splice down the middle, even though I had taken the knife safety course, I had done this. And sure enough.
Slice. Right through the skin of my left index finger. Ouch. Ouch. Ouch. I saw blood.
I ran into the bathroom with my other hand on the finger. Gross. Ouch. And then I saw more bloody. I screamed. I was crying. I was panicking. I was having trouble breathing. The blood. I was scared. Finally, my father came up.
He handled it like a pro.
"Let me look at it."
I had stopped crying at this point and I was breathing hard. I felt tired from the screaming and crying. He wrapped my finger with a clean towel and reassured me things were okay. He was so calm.
My mother came and put some peroxide on the finger.
I was in a daze. I wasn't sure what to do. I cried from time to time and I was in more of a stupor.
Then it was time for dinner. I did not feel well. I sat on the floor over by the Fitz the dog.
"We will take you to the hospital. But not until after dinner."
I couldn't believe this. I was laying here, dying on the floor. My mother made her big family meal that night. It was the biggest meal we were going to have that month. I think it was crab. It was a big deal. My Ma, Dad, Sis were all excited. I didn't like crab. I was a picky kid. And I was lying on the floor of my kitchen teetering on death.
And they ate. They enjoyed their meal. My Mother. My Father. And my Sister. My face was stained with tears and I was in a sober emotionless shock.
"Can you take me to the hospital?"
"Let me take another look at that."
My father came over, looked at my hand and then pulled off the bandage. I screamed. And cried. It hurt.
"Yeah, it looks like stitches."
They started to clean up and the Fitz the dog was licking the dishes next to me on the floor. My father got me my jacket and we jumped into his Oldsmobile 98. We were headed to the hospital ER.
By this point the sobriety had really set in. I knew I was okay. I started thinking about the Emergency Room. I didn't want to go to the Emergency Room. They were always a big pain. And expensive. I knew my father wasn't thrilled about what it was going to cost. I knew I wouldn't have the money to pay for it. But I knew that I was going to need stitches.
"Dad, I think they have a Med Stop on Manchester."
"Yeah, they have this Med Stop on Manchester I think. Over by the IHOP. They are supposed to be able to do things like stitches cheaper than the hospital."
We wound up going to check out this Med Stop. And it worked out great. Five stitches. My spirits were fine by the end of the day. It hurt, but we got it all figured out.
I never did find Jerry.The Beat Goes On
It is funny, I see this kid Brandon down at the market in Soulard. He occasionally wipes down the car, he also helps me haul boxes of produce down the lanes when I am picking up large orders. He is about thirteen now, but I have seen him bumming around Soulard for at least four or five years. Nice kid.
About a year or two ago he came up to me and needed four dollars. He wanted to know if I wanted my car wiped down or anything.
You see, he "needed the money." He was saving up for fifteen dollars to buy a puppy. Oh lord. The look on his face was so pure. He really did want a puppy. I wanted to just give him the money for it too.
I told him to go buy a mouse instead.