Present Arms!

I had recently moved back to Massachusetts from Philadelphia after finishing up most of my prep work for my doctoral fieldwork. I was living in an awful apartment in Malden while writing my proposal and working to pay the rent. It was not a fun period in my life. I knew I faced an uphill climb with my department for my dissertation topic. My grey devil cat Clancy looked at it differently. He was living in a target-rich environment for his favorite activity; hunting mice. Every morning he was exhausted after spending the night pouncing on what had to be the most suicidal population of rodents in the state.
His routine was to present them in a lineup first thing in the morning as I got up to make coffee and feed him. He would sit at the end of the line, chest out, immeasurably proud of the body count. You could almost hear the crisp tones of “Present Arms!”
After a while, the nightly bounty slowed. So Clancy spent more time playing with them and keeping one alive to offer to me. I think he wanted to provide me with the opportunity to improve my feeble hunting skills.
We took a trip to Maine about that time so that I could survey potential locations for my fieldwork. I was interested in finding a community close to where I had lived on the coast, but far enough away that I would not have to interact with my ex-wife, or worse with my former father in law – the Cap’n. Clancy, as usual, was pleased to go on a road trip, and seek new conquests.
We returned after two weeks and found that a new population of rodents had moved in from elsewhere in the building. Clancy rejoiced in renewed hunting. At about that time, my relationship with a nurse I had seen casually began to pick up.
One night I had her over for dinner. Fearing that we’d be late for the movie I was taking her to, I left about a half basin of dirty dishes to wash when I came home. The evening was a greater success than I suspected, and instead of escorting her to her home, we returned to my apartment.

Here is where it all goes wrong. Entering the dark apartment, we pause for a romantic kiss. I reach across the kitchen wall for the light switch and move in for a second kiss only to hear my date shriek. Turning, I see the dish basin sitting in the sink. In the basin are the bobbing corpses of about six mice. Very dead. At the end of the counter sits Clancy mouth full with yet another mouse to add to the basin. My date surges out of the apartment, demanding to go home instantly. Thus ended a lovely relationship in the bud.

Clancy, always seeking new ways to eliminate mice, had perhaps by accident stumbled upon this method of execution. Over the years, I had entered the bathroom to witness mice getting flushed, made paraplegic, and lined up for body counts, but this was one for the books. He seemed to do this most when he disapproved of my girlfriends. I warned them not to be surprised if he offered them a living mouse. It was a test; pay no attention, and he took it away. Eventually, I found a lovely woman who ignored this sort of thing, and he came to worship her.

Years later, I was sitting with my wife watching the movie Titanic. In the scene where a rescue crew is rowing through the masses of floating and frozen dead, I recalled Clancy and the basin full of dead mice. Somehow the scene was forever ruined for me.

10 Replies to “Present Arms!”

      1. Obviously! 🤣 Louis Catorze’s big brother Luther once managed seven in one night (and an eighth the next morning) but Catorze has never managed more than one at a time.

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  1. But he has such outsized talents in other areas. I read his adventures with amazement and glee – while realizing that cats like Catorze and Clancy can be a trial to have around sometimes. Other people merely have resident cats…we have…resident evil? Well, sometimes it feels that way. Life would be boring otherwise.

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  2. I’m pretty certain I could never stay for any reason in a place where so many mice could be caught by a cat. I’m guessing it’s less stressful for guys. Sounds like a smart cat though. Enjoyed seeing how they operate, since I have very little experience with cats. Slightly more with dogs.

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