The Suicidal Mice of 40th Drive

My family lived in west Phoenix in a square cinderblock home, painted turquoise. And the thing to know about cinderblock homes, however unattractive they might appear, a splash of turquoise paint makes them nearly… less unattractive.

housemouseIn any case, cinderblock keeps out rodents and reptiles, and for desert living that’s darn smart.

Although about the time I was 12-years old, my dad built a garage in our backyard.

Actually, it wasn’t so much a garage as a giant workshop/sanctuary. It took up nearly half our backyard and was made primarily of wood.

That’s when the mice moved in.

The reason we knew we had mice is that every so often, about once a week or so, we’d find one floating in Pepper’s water dish.
Pepper being our family dog.

Now, you gotta figure, a mouse’s life can’t be an easy one. You’re either trying to find food or trying to keep from becoming food. And in Arizona, a mouse’s life must be extra hard. Especially in a workshop, where my dad never allowed food or drink.

My parents were certain the little guys fell in while trying to drink out of the dish. It was the only reasonable explanation. They lean in, lose their footing, and plop! Unable to get out, they breathe their last.

But I knew better. One look at that little rodent corpse, the serene look on his face, and I Alfred P. Mouse writes a noteknew.

It was a clear case of mouse suicide.

After all, what did he have to live for?

My dear wife and 84 children,
By the time you read this, I will have thrown myself in the pond by the building of the gods. I’m sorry I couldn’t provide the life you deserve.
I looked for cheese. I found no cheese. All cheese is gone.
Farewell forever,
Alfred P. Mouse

I wanted to provide a proper burial for the mice, but Mom wouldn’t hear of it. Even a funeral pyre was out of the question.

Alfred P. Mouse leaps into water dishHonestly, the woman had no compassion for depressed, suicidal mice.

And so it was that week after week, little mouse corpses were fished out of Pepper’s water dish and added to the garbage bin in the alley.

I wished, rather than believed, there was an afterlife for the little fellas. A mouse heaven, so to speak.

At least give them that.

Then one bright, Saturday morning, as we sat in the kitchen, Mom gasped and pointed out the window. “Oh my goodness,” she cried, “it’s Pepper!”

We got to the window in time to see Pepper drop a mouse into her water dish. She proceeded to poke it with her nose, over and over again. Every time the mouse came up for air, Pepper poked it under.

Finally, after what seemed like several minutes, the mouse gave up the good fight and was still.

Pepper stayed a short while until she was convinced it was dead. Then she took up her usual spot by the side of the garage and stretched out in the sun.

My parents and I looked at each other.

“Pepper is a killer,” I said softly, awed by her skill and resourcefulness.

My parents didn’t see it that way.

“A dog can’t kill something by drowning,” my dad explained. “They wouldn’t understand it.”

“She was just playing with it,” my mom added with a nod.

I wasn’t so sure. But what I did know was this: The Case of the Suicidal Mice of 40th Drive was solved.

The dog did it.

29 thoughts on “The Suicidal Mice of 40th Drive

  1. First rodents, then squirrels and then WORLD DOMINATION! How many more rodents had met their demise at the paws of a mammal serial killer? HOW MANY??!

    1. EXACTLY! And you know, if they figured out drowning, it’s just a matter of time before they start using other methods – poisoning, stabbing, dropping a piano on your head.
      Be careful, Lily. Be very careful.

    1. Yeah, she was a smart thing. Part dachshund (the real kind, not miniature), part we-don’t-know-what. The mice probably thought of her as a four-legged black demon from Hell. I bet they told horror tales to their children to keep them in line. (Holy cow, there’s a book here!)

  2. You spin a delightful mystery, Christi. I’m going with your dad’s logic. Did you have shell pink appliances too? They were the rage in the cinder block homes on 39th Ave when I was a kid.

    1. My mom went for the ‘copper’ appliances, they were kind of maroonish? But I remember seeing the pink ones, and the green too – I think they were called ‘avocado green’ weren’t they? Oh, my. The 70s were so… special. 😀
      Did you live in Phoenix? Have we had this conversation before?

      1. Ah, those 70’s colors! I was thinking farther back (yeah dating myself). I lived in east & west PHX & Scottsdale a few times, worked at APS a while, but this is a GTKY moment.

    1. True, that may have sent me over the edge as a youngster.
      On the other hand, I would have spent years in therapy as a result and written an award-winning autobiography, later made into a blockbuster movie. So, you know. Shame, that.

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