Shut the door

Look, before I even begin, let’s be clear: he would have died anyway. He was a goner long before he got to my bedroom (so many punch lines). He was surely dead before we carried his body to the backyard. Let this be a lesson to you: shut the back door.

You know the expression, “look what the cat dragged in?”

True story. In this case, it was a tiny chipmunk dangling from the teeth of my otherwise affectionate feline, Mon Chat.

It was Saturday. I was hanging laundry on the line and thinking what a beautiful day it was going to be. And then I saw it: Mon Chat leaping through the grass like a puma, a ball of fur hanging from her mouth. So, like any fool who thinks a cat actually listens to anyone ever, I yelled “drop it,” assuming she would follow a direct order. Silly. She bounded past me headed for the back door, the one I’d left open because my hands were full carrying the laundry.

I dropped the soggy breaches I was preparing to hang on the line and chased Mon Chat, which only encouraged her to speed up and leap over the threshold, into the living room and head up the stairs, her prized trophy dangled precariously from her whiskered mouth. I presumed Chippie was dead (of course I named him – you knew I would). I yelled “drop it” once more, this time with meaning and hand signals. I can only assume Mon Chat was laughing at me because she opened her jaw just long enough for Chippie to escape her death grip, jolt to life and fly through the air, down a flight of stairs and under our couch.

I may or may not have squealed like a little girl.

I grabbed Mon Chat and locked her in a room while yelling frantically for my teenagers to come help me (which is akin to telling a cat to “drop it”).  The alarm in my voice got their attention and before I knew it, we were crawling around the furniture in search of a terrified chipmunk who was also a flight risk. Just as we cornered Chippie, he darted by us and sprinted directly into my bedroom.

We quietly tip-toed into the room, concerned that any sudden move would further injure the poor creature. We made a pact that we would nurse Chippie back to health and become his forever family (the Carpenter was absent so his consent was not required).

With best intentions we created blanket barricades for a safe capture, but screamed like victims in a horror flick every time Chippie zoomed past us. For a near-dead chipmunk, he was lightning fast and also prone to jump directly at his would-be captors. Minutes passed before my son netted Chippie in a freshly laundered blanket and brought him outside, where we hoped he would either escape never to return or agree to stay on and live in a shoebox until we could arrange accommodations. Either way, we were victorious.

Or so we thought.

Chippie succumbed to his injuries. While he fought the good fight, in the end our efforts to save him only escalated the end of his life. Heartbreaking. And yes, there was a funeral. No, Mon Chat was not invited. And yes, I will now remember to shut the back door, because the Carpenter won’t let me forget. It’s never dull at my house.


Kelly Waterhouse