Indomitable Charlie

From February 2011 “Tips & Tales”


One evening I was nearly catapulted from my seat by a series of deafening squeaks. My two cats reacted by bonking their heads together in their mad scurry to exit the area in opposite directions. After a prolonged interval came more deafening squeaks. "Aha!  A mouse for sure," thought I.

The squeaking continued at varying intervals night and day as I searched in vain. "Oh no! It may be a rat,” I pondered. I finally set a humane trap to entice the fellow out with cheese. Apparently I was dealing with a gourmet, as I lured him with every choice mouse fare I could procure . . . even in a finer trap. Nothing was touched, but the intermittent squeaks were driving me nuts . . . (O.K. I know . . . short trip).

I relocated my sleeping quarters while my once fearless cats avoided the basement except on brief searches, when a squeak would send them helter skeltering back upstairs. I further succumbed to defeat by naming my houseguest "Charlie". Then in my weakened mental state, brought on by one too many squeaks, I began to feel sorry for Charlie. After all he maintained a respectful distance when I loudly announced my brief visits to the basement, never once  venturing out to scurry across my path. Very respectful mouse, I supposed.

Then the big risk came when I put up a stepladder and plucked out ceiling tiles. Almost gladly, no mouse met me nose to nose. But came a night I feared a shift in Charlie's life was inevitable. My fearless cat, Chessy, was back on the prowl. I heard wild venturing up and down the hall and stairs as I barricaded myself in a room. Poor Charlie would be no match for my Chessy. I tried not to hear the battle royal going on but then came a familiar pawing at my door. Had Chessy brought me an offering of leftovers? Then came a victorious "SQUEAK”. Charlie lived. That could only mean my Chessy was a wimp in a cat's body. How humiliating for him.

I had given up on any help from the feline persuasion when I was speaking to a friend on my speakerphone. When a squeak was uttered, my friend informed me that Charlie was not a mouse but a chipmunk! My heart sank as I began to feel for the poor desperate chipmunk . . . named Charlie, of course. I read up on chipmunk fare, checked his water daily, and almost welcomed him, as he was obviously tidy and no trouble, except for the operatic squeaks, which were at best unnerving.

But help was on the way. Sunnyside to the rescue with Stephen at the helm. He, too, had trouble noting the location of the squeaks. The squeaks were less piercing now, as I feared the indomitable Charlie was weakening from lack of nourishment. I hated thinking we were being outfoxed by a chipmunk, but then came a dim squeak right into Stephen's ear. It was a moment later that Stephen scrambled to a box, reached in and plucked Charlie from his unexpected nest . . . a now defunct, (I thought) smoke alarm.

Dear Charlie with one final squeak will forever be the indomitable Charlie . . . a battery gone berserk, kind of like me now. But at least I can still applaud my cats as fearless, just inexperienced with this particular "species" of mouse or chipmunk.

And as for Charlie, you say? He received a heroic burial in the highest echelon of my trash can. His indomitable spirit lives on in my basement. Unfortunately, my two cats have quite a different version of this account . . . perhaps later.

--Kathryn (Kitty) Bennett

 And an update from Galen:

Kathryn says Charlie the mouse (or chipmunk) in the guise of a squeaking smoke alarm hasn’t returned since the incident noted above. But she said she recently discovered a distant relative of Charlie, in another branch of the family, had taken up residence in the trunk of her car. The intruder had chewed on the arm of a doll and left a calling card on a bag of candy she was going to distribute to kids at church. So she calls this real live Charlie her “Church” mouse, who was dispatched to a better place.