'Darcy and O'Mara' is a novel by Arthur Cronin.
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Thursday, December 28, 2006

The Mouse

The dog gets transfixed by the Christmas lights in the garden. He often stares at them for hours. We have to get the wife's aunt to sing to him to break him out of his trance. Her singing can be detected by dogs within a half-mile radius and they howl along with her. Nothing else can divert his gaze from the lights. When a jockey walked right past him he took no notice. We were too busy commenting on how the dog took no notice of the jockey to wonder why the jockey was walking through the garden.

My uncle Harry always enjoyed experimenting with electricity. After every fire he'd stop and think about how to replace the apparatus that had been destroyed. The word 'apparatus' suggests he knew what he was doing, but the garden gnomes had a better understanding of what they were doing and they only rarely started fires.

When his wife, Aunt Bridget, told him there was a mouse in the house, he said, "Right. We'll electrocute the bugger."

His first plan involved a car, a player-piano and the inevitable fire, but the mouse escaped with his life.

His second plan was to distract the mouse with a play that would be performed by puppets. One of the puppets was a mouse, and this one would go into the audience and electrocute the real mouse. But the real mouse left his seat half-way through the performance.

Nicola wrote a review of the play, and Harry read it in the paper. It said that the second act lacked focus, and too many story lines were allowed take centre stage. The review also criticised the set, and it said that too many characters caught fire. Harry threw the newspaper into the bin.

Harry invented a new dance while he was trying to come up with a new plan. He performed it at a local village concert and it got a great reaction. He did his dance on local radio too, but his big break came with a TV appearance. He performed the dance with eight young women dancing behind him. They were dressed like him and they copied all of his movements. They were known as the Harriets.

Harry blew up his car in his next attempt to kill the mouse. Under normal circumstances, the neighbours would have said, "Harry must still be trying to catch that mouse," and that would have been the end of the matter, but because of his celebrity status he was featured on the front page of many newspapers under headlines like 'Dancing Harry Blows Up Car'.

Harry was furious, and he blamed it all on the mouse. He was more determined than ever to catch it, so he enlisted the help of the Harriets. They were still copying all of his movements around the house. When he lit his pipe, they lit theirs.

They split up into three groups and they searched the house for the mouse. Bridget didn't like the idea of eight young women who were devoted to her husband and she hated having them around the house. She enlisted Nicola's help to get rid of them.

One of the Harriets was afraid of paper monkeys. She liked real monkeys, but she ran away screaming from the paper ones. Her fear arose from an incident when she was attacked by 150 paper monkeys. They didn't really attack her -- they just fell on her head.

She was with two other Harriets as they searched upstairs. She ran away screaming from a calendar because she thought it was a paper monkey. When her torch lit up the photo of a squirrel on the calendar she didn't stop to confirm her first impression that it was a monkey -- she just screamed and ran, and the other two did the same because they assumed she had a very good reason for screaming and running, even though all they had seen was a calendar with a squirrel on it.

Bridget and Nicola got rid of another group with the shadow of the puppets on a wall. The three Harriets saw the shadow of a mouse happily walking towards the shadow of a man. But suddenly the mouse jumped in the air and went straight for the man's face. He fell over and tried to fight the mouse off, but the Harriets missed this because they were already running away and screaming.

The two remaining Harriets were with Harry. All the screaming made them nervous, so all Bridget had to do was burst a balloon to make them run away as well.

Harry started drinking after they left. Bridget and Nicola put on a puppet show in which the mouse was portrayed as a friend. He saved the life of someone just like Harry who was conducting an experiment with electricity.

Harry read the review of the show in the paper the next day and it was very positive, so he decided to spare the life of the mouse. Although if he had kept trying to kill the mouse, the chances are he'd have killed himself first.

The moose's head over the fireplace got a few sweaters as Christmas presents. He wouldn't wear them even if he had a body. I wish I didn't have a body so I could avoid wearing the reindeer sweater I got. But if I didn't have a body I wouldn't have anything to hold my legs, and I wouldn't be able to wear the bright green trousers I bought in the sales. They bring a whole new dimension to the area of leg-ownership. My legs are clearly much happier. Sometimes they just run around in circles.