“Get it! Get it!” Devin was yelling.
My cousin, Devin, is a big guy. He’s about 6 foot 5 inches tall. He’s a big guy who’s scared of little things. Those little things, in particular, are mice. He hates mice. So when I heard him yelling one day from downstairs and I ran down to his room to see him standing on his bed with his hands curled up to his chin, I had to laugh at him. Pretty soon, all five of the college students that lived together in that house were down in Devin’s room.
“Get it! Get it!” Devin was yelling.
Jesse’s legs were the only thing visible as he crawled under Devin’s bed. One by one, all of Devin’s possessions were thrown out until there was finally nothing left underneath.
“It’s not under here anymore,” Jesse’s muffled voice came from underneath the bed.
“Find it,” Devin cowered. “I don’t want that thing crawling on me in the night.”
Devin was the one who owned the house and the rest of us paid him rent. Because he was the owner, he got to choose which room he wanted and he chose the biggest. The problem with that room, though, was that it wasn’t originally meant to be a bedroom. There was a big column in the center of the room that held up the upper floor of the house. The washer and drier were in a closet at one end of the room and the furnace was in a closet at the other end.
“Wait, listen,” Trent, Devin’s brother, said. “I think I can hear it.”
We all hushed ourselves and listened intently. Sure enough, there was something crawling around. It wasn’t under the bed or behind the washing machine, though. It was in the air duct pipes above the furnace.
“How is that possible?” Jesse wondered. “I was just making the whole thing up to scare Devin. I never really saw a mouse run under his bed.”
“Well, it’s there now,” I said.
Trent tapped on the grey pipe protruding from the top of the furnace and, sure enough, every time he tapped he could hear something scurrying back and forth. The mouse was obviously trying to find an escape route. It was clearly almost as scared of us as Devin was of it.
“How did it even get in there?” Trent wondered. “Those pipes don’t go all the way to the floor. It would have had to crawl all the way up the furnace and into somehow scurried into the hole that leads to the rest of the house.”
“Well get it out of there,” Devin insisted. “I don’t want that thing running loose in the house. Get it while it’s cornered.”
We scanned the area and evaluated our options. There was only one thing we could do. We had to find a screwdriver and start taking the air duct pipes apart. We had to do it without letting the mouse escape through any hole we were about to open. It was going to be tricky, but we felt like we were up to the challenge.
Screw by screw and piece by piece, we started to undo the pipes. Every time we took off a pipe, though, the mouse just ran away to the next pipe. We could hear him run. Finally we had him trapped. He had run to a joint where the only place he could go would be straight up. Listening, we could hear him trying and failing to scale the inside of the pipe. Finally, the mouse gave up. He must have known he was doomed, or maybe he was just too tired. We knew he was still in there, though. We just knew it.
“I’ll get him,” I said. “I aint scared of no mouse.”
I had gone into the bathroom and found a towel to put on my hand. I’m not scared of mice, but I didn’t want to get bit either.
“Okay,” Trent said, “I’ve got all the screws out. On the count of three I’ll pull the pipe out and you snag him.”
“Right,” I said.
The count began and I was ready. Trent started to pull the pipe and I was ready. It was no big deal. I’ve caught mice before. It was no big deal. Right as the pipe came out, though, and I reached my hand in to grab the mouse…
“Ahhh!” I yelled at the top of my lung.
I yelled, which made everyone else yell. We all yelled in unison.
I’m not scared of mice, but when I reached in to grab the mouse, I saw the largest mouse I had ever laid my hands on. In fact, it was bigger than any rat I’d ever seen. It was the size of a guinea pig! My brain wasn’t ready for the enormity of the rodent. The enormous mouse started to freak out, flapping his wings all over the place.
“It’s a bird!” Jesse said.
He was right. It wasn’t a mouse. It was a bird. That explained the sudden surprise in size and the flapping wings. I realized that I’d better act quickly if I didn’t want a bird flying around Devin’s bedroom. Pretty soon we were all out on the front lawn encouraging our little friend to fly fly fly away. True story.