One day during the summer, we found a dead mouse in our driveway.
The cause of death was not immediately evident, and certainly no autopsy was imminent, unless there was a nearby high school biology class in search of corpses.
There was no sign of a struggle: no blood, no gore, not even any mouse droppings. And this was before we had set traps to humanely kill Mickey and his friends (See entry 60*). Had this little guy died of natural causes randomly at our doorstep? Had the mouse, frustrated at his failed attempts to get into our garbage, committed suicide? Or was it cold-blooded…murder?
I suggested that perhaps a predatory bird had dropped the mouse (which would make it “murder most fowl”-HAH!). But if I was right, what was the motive? Was the body left as a sort of “welcome to the neighborhood” gift? Or was it a warning, an owl version of a horse’s head?
I drew a chalk outline around the body in case there was an investigation later, and tossed the corpse unceremoniously into the trees.
The mystery deepened the very next day when we found the bone from a porterhouse steak on our deck. Barbara was sure she had this one solved; she believed the evidence clearly pointed to the theft of said bone from our trash cans, into which we had deposited just such an item, which could be traced back to a meal at Capital Grille.
But I shot holes in her theory. If the bone had, indeed, been plucked from our garbage, where was the mess? The torn-open bag? The strewn trash? The fragments of Capital Grille doggie bag that one would expect to find at such a crime scene? Further, was Barbara thinking that an animal had neatly cherry-picked the bone from all our other refuse and dragged it up two flights of stairs to our deck? For what purpose? Did the creature intend to heat it up on our barbecue?
And then why abandon it?
No, I said, the two incidences were obviously related. “Look,” I told Barbara, picking up the bone with a handkerchief (so as not to leave prints), “this isn’t our leftover at all. We would never have discarded it with so much meat left on it.”
The mouse had been murdered elsewhere, I alleged, the body moved to our driveway; that’s why there was no sign of violence. The bone, too, had been transported. Judging from its size, it might have come from Greenwich. Or Texas.
But were these events the accidental work of a weak-taloned bird that kept dropping things on its way home, a path that took it over our house? Or were they left intentionally and, if so, what message should we glean from the warnings? Were the birds telling us that we weren’t cut out for home ownership? Were they trying to run us out of town?
Well, I’ve got news for them: it’s going to take a lot more than a mouse corpse and a steak bone to scare us off.
Memo to real estate agent Nancy: if we find anything larger than a squirrel body, we’ll be calling you.
See you soon.
*I hasten to add that this was also before the discovery of the poor little handicapped mouse mentioned in that previous post. So the dead mouse could not have been that one. I wonder, however, if the same bird who was allegedly dropping things on our property had dropped our two-legged friend from the air. Given that mouse’s penchant for survival, I would not be surprised if he lived through the fall and soldiered on, his back legs broken but not his spirit. And, by the way, we’re still accepting donations to the Fund for Crippled Mice (see disclaimer in previous post).