My apartment has been compromised.
I went to bed as usual last night. All was well. I look back at that last moment of serenity now and sigh regretfully.
About 2.45 am my cats were raising a ruckus in the living room, which happens to be right outside my bedroom. It was loud enough to wake me up and it made me very grumpy. I shouted at them, rolled over and went back to sleep.
At 3.45 am the ruckus was so loud that I had bolted out of bed and was standing wild-haired in the bedroom doorway, flicking the living room lights on before I knew I was fully awake. "WHAT are you guys doing?!" I yelled.
The two of them took no notice of me and kept playing. Dickens was in watchful mode and Wilkie was in full-on huntress on the wild prairie mode. She batted her toy under the dining room table and followed it to the wall. The toy squeaked.
I'm afraid this story is a perfect illustration of how I wake up stupid.
I stood there for a few minutes while parts of my brain warred for an explanation that makes sense. I NEVER buy my cats squeaky toys for precisely this reason: the toys only get played with in the middle of the night and I wake up real unhappy about it. My cats play with silent toys.
But this one squeaked. Then this squeaky toy started moving in slow motion independently of Wilkie. That's when it finally dawned on me that the squeaky toy was ALIVE.
I do believe I stood there for fully 5 minutes in horror and slowly mounting panic as I realized that my cats had a real live mouse in the living room and I had no idea what to do about it.
What follows next is embarrassing and I have to ask you to be very forgiving in your judgment of my behavior. I wake up stupid, remember?
The mouse ran under the couch and my cats commenced harassing it to come out. My first productive response to the problem was to put on bedroom slippers. I briefly considered donning my winter knee-high boots but decided that was not merited just yet. Then I went back to standing in the doorway. I REALLY didn't want that mouse to run into my bedroom.
There was a whole lotta nothing going on. Cats intently stalking the couch. Me standing there trying to figure out something useful to do.
I got out a flashlight and started holding it near the floor so it could light up whatever was going on under the couch. The cats got real interested in the flashlight and came over to investigate. So much for the flashlight. "Get back over there and catch that mouse!" I yelled.
They went back to the couch. My adrenalin levels were soaring. Not that I was doing anything.
At some point I got a bathroom towel, closed my bedroom door and used the towel to block the gap near the floor. No mouse in the bedroom, no matter what happens.
I also armed myself with a large tupperware container. If that mouse came racing toward me across the carpet, I'd be ready. (Do you believe that? Yeah. Me neither.)
Suddenly - and I do think we're about 20 minutes into this real-life cat and mouse adventure - it occurs to me that I could ask for help. (Give me some credit for recognizing the shortcomings of my own mental capacity at that time.) Okay, so it was 4 am, but still. Someone might be awake somewhere right? I quickly texted two friends, one who is sometimes a night owl and one who has a new baby:
"4 am. R u up?"
No answer. And then it hits me - my mom lives in Australia! Jackpot!! It's gotta be like what 4.30 in the afternoon there, or maybe 6 pm? At any rate, she'll DEFINITELY be awake. I call. I tell her what's going on in my Voice of High Drama. My mom starts laughing at me.
I can't tell you how comforting that was.
Eventually Mom talked me out of the hysterical idea of staying up all night to keep an eye on a mouse smart enough to hide under a couch. After considering and discarding a few other creative suggestions (Mom's gifted at lateral thinking) involving winter boots, redistribution of cats and lights, and opening doors and windows, I let myself be talked into going into my bedroom, shutting the door, blocking the gap with the towel and going back to sleep. Ha.
Well, I tried.
There was a brief lull, more audible cat ruckus, and not a lot of sleeping. About 5.45 my cats set up a plaintive howl outside the door - they really don't like to be shut out of the bedroom - so I tentatively opened it. No mouse carcass on the floor or in their mouths. Perhaps it was too much to hope for.
At any rate, today I will be recovering from a nocturnal adventure of suspense, disappointment and adrenalin. And I will be buying mousetraps.
Postscript: This morning when I got up, a little blearier than usual, the cats seemed perfectly fine. No gloating over prey caught, but also not obsessing over prey lost. But as I left for work today there they were in the corner of the living room, resting in the watchful but ready-for-action shoebox pose. I have no idea if the mouse is back there, or if that's where he was last seen. I devoutly hope he finds some magical exit to the outside world and that I never have to see him again, dead or alive.