Here is an excerpt from my self-published book, “The Plight of the Hare & Other Stories From the Shoe”. Illustration by Breena Nuñez.
Thumpety-thump. Thumpety-thump. My eyes flew open and I froze. My ears strained to identify this mysterious sound. A mouse?? A big mouse??!! Urgh. Thumpety-thump. “Uh oh, more than one?” I thought. A childhood fear prevented me from looking because it could have been a giant monster or something.
“Francisco,” I whispered to my sleeping husband, pushing him to wake up. “Francisco, there’s a big mouse in the kitchen. Francisco,” I shook him harder and he mumbled. “I heard a mouse, I think he’s under the fridge, sounds like he’s chewing on a tortilla or something.” Still asleep, I shook him real hard and raised my voice, “Francisco, there is a mouse under the refrigerator, can you go check it out?” Finally he turned over and paused, listened to the sound under the fridge; opened one eye, then bolted straight up. “That’s no mouse!” He announced. He got up and grabbed his BB gun from the top of the bookshelf.
“What are you doing?” I whispered.
“I’m gonna shoot that rat!” he said determinedly. “A rat, oh no, not a rat,” I moaned.
I watched him aim; I couldn’t look toward the fridge because I didn’t want to see how big the rat was. It was quiet for a long time, the chewing stopped. Bing! A shot sounded from the BB gun.
“$#%^&” cursed my husband as he got his foot caught on the blanket while stumbling out of bed. He tried to hit the fleeing rat with the butt of the rifle, but just tripped and cursed some more. He came back to bed “I’m gonna get that rat.” He was getting back under the covers when I heard another noise, “What’s that?”
The noise was coming from the sliding glass door. A beautiful mosaic of cracking glass was slowly climbing to the top of the door. It actually looked pretty with the street light shining in the background.
“You hit the sliding glass door?!!” I said, holding my smirk inside my mouth. “I’m going to sleep.” And he turned over.
“Was it a big rat?” I winced at the question. “Yea, a really big one.”
“Oh, no…” I went to sleep to the sound of crackling glass. The morning was a buzz as soon as the kids woke up.
“What happened to the sliding glass door?” one asked, “Who broke it?” another asked.
“Your father shot it,” I answered, “Don’t touch it, it’s gonna fall apart.” “Why did he shoot the door?” one asked.
“He didn’t mean to shoot the door; he meant to shoot the rat.” I said while pouring my coffee. “A Rat!!!” they all screamed, “there was a rat in the house.” The chorus of voices ran down the hall to their little room and tell their big sister, “Dad tried to shoot a rat last night, but he missed and hit the sliding glass door. It is all broke now.” All kinds of hoots and hollers came from their little bedroom.
Dad walked in the door and the kids crowded him, “How big was the rat, Dad? Why’d ya shoot the door, Dad? You broke the door; I thought you knew how to shoot.” “Weren’t you in the Army, Dad?” The questions were fast and furious, and the look of irritation grew on my husband’s face. He grumbled as he passed them and gently broke off the pieces from the door and cleaned up the mess.
“You guys, get away from him while he cleans up or you’ll get cut.” I ordered.
It was a slow morning; I was too tired to cook breakfast so I got some donuts. I told the shoot-out story to the kids while we ate them, and Francisco left for work.
The day went by typically, and the kids were in the backyard when I heard a commotion begin. I waited to see if it would die down or get worse. Emilio ran in the house and immediately went to the bookshelf and grabbed the BB gun.
“What are you doing with that?” I asked him. “Gracie has the rat, and I’m gonna shoot it.”
“What, what!!!” I squawked. “Wait, no one is gonna shoot that rat…..but me.” I took the rifle from Emilio and followed him out to the backyard.
The kids were excited, “Everyone get out of the way,” I ordered. Because of the construction work we were doing, the underneath of the house was fully exposed from the back side. From the backyard, you could see Gracie, our little black lab, slouching next to an unconscious rat under the floor.
“Did she kill it?” Emilio asked.
“I don’t think so; I think she just knocked him out.” “Are you gonna shoot it?”
“Yep, stay back and watch those babies.” I lifted the rifle and carefully aimed at the rat, and yes it was a big rat. In the line of vision, stood a very frightened Gracie.
“Get outta there Gracie.” I ordered and she eagerly fled.
I re-aimed, it was very quiet, and I steadied my arm. BING!!! PLUNK!!
“You hit it, you hit it!!” the kids all yelled.
“Do you think you killed it?” Elizabeth asked holding the hands of two toddlers.
“I’m not sure, but I will try again. Hold on to those babies, everybody stand back, I’m gonna shoot again.” I aimed again.
“You got him again, he’s gotta be dead now.”
I wasn’t so sure, and really didn’t what to do now. We pulled it out from under the house with a rake and tried to see if it was breathing. The roar of my husband’s van could be heard as he came around the corner. The kids dashed to meet him in the front of the house.
“Mom shot the rat!! Mom killed the rat!!” The kids were all talking at once.
Here was my chance to look like Annie Oakley, so I slung the rifle up on my shoulder and coolly sashayed out to meet my husband.
“What’s going on? Did you find the rat?” He asked, looking at me kind of funny.
“Oh, the rat,” I said calmly, “I shot that rat, and I didn’t miss.”
“Really, congratulations, Ma Barker.”
Dad finished the job and we stuck the rat in the donut box and threw it in the garbage.