Monday, 11 January 2016

What to do about Brownie?

As regular readers of The Overnight Bestseller know, I've moved my authoring operations to a basement office in the Burritt's Rapids Community Hall. The building was constructed as a general store in the middle of the nineteenth century by John French, and when I tip my head back to gaze heavenward for inspiration I can stare at the original heavy wooden beams and floor planks of this solid neo-classical structure.

It's a very quiet work environment, without distractions, and my productivity has thankfully improved since I moved in about a month ago. No more cats running across my keyboard for attention or yelling for food or searching endlessly for the door into summer. Just Mike, his computer, and........

Image: Public Domain
I've seen him twice now. A plump, healthy-looking brown mouse running along the baseboard under the chalk board. I think he's coming from a storage room just to the right of my workspace and heading for the furnace room down yonder at top speed. So ... I'm not alone after all.

Ever the responsible tenant, I informed my lessor of my uninvited guest and suggested I could bring in one of my cats (am I nuts??) to put the fear of Felix into him and encourage him to move elsewhere, or else get caught and suffer the consequences. (A word on gender: I refer to him in the masculine in the fond hope that he's a lone bachelor and not a female looking to nest and produce more Brownies.) She replied right away, letting me know that her daughters had seen the mouse before while taking art lessons from the previous tenant. Oh yes, by the way: his name's Brownie.

I'm toast. He has a name. What do I do now? I can't just up and kill Brownie, can I?

There's an old box of Warfarin on a shelf in the storage room, but unless he's suffering from blood clots I wouldn't do that to him. I've seen rodents killed by mousetraps before, and it's a horrible sight. So I'm back to the cats. We have mice in our house in winter, since we live in the country, and we've refined a system where they chase and trap a mouse in a corner, I put on gloves and grab it, then I take it off a ways from the house and toss it into a pile of leaves. I guess I'll give that a try, after all, because I have an obligation to my lessor to take care of it.

But here's the thing: he has a name. Brownie. I've started talking to him. I ask him how he's doing. Sometimes I get up to take a break, and I give him an update on how it's going. This chapter's looking good, Brownie. What should I do here, Brownie? How does this sound?

I'm toast. I have a new pal, and his name is Brownie.

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