The Clark Report: The Church Mouse

CRRRUNCH. Crunch.

The saying "quiet as a church mouse" must refer to a living church mouse, because a church mouse being consumed as a snack is quite loud.

Yes, I am speaking from experience. No, don't worry. I didn't eat it, Clark did. And the mouse wasn't alive at the time. Clark had killed him, swiftly.

We were out for our weekly outing. I saw Clark chasing something as I sat in the churchyard chatting with cousin half a world away. Usually he doesn't catch anything. "Oh, he's hunting, but – he — he may have actually caught something," I said to my cousin, casually at first, then with rising concern as I bent down to see him under the church yard bench, and something clearly in his mouth. "Oh no – I think he has a mouse!" She let me go to deal with it… but by the time I hung up the phone and got down on my hands and knees, he'd dropped the mouse, and the mouse was clearly deceased.

I reached under the bench to try to get him away from the mouse, and he growled softly. He gets very irritated when I take his mice away from him, which I've done about a half dozen times. This time, since the mouse was clearly a goner, I thought, "Oh I'll let him toss it around for a minute, since I can't get it from him now – he'll get tired of it in a bit and I'll grab and discard it."

He must have read my mind. He looked right at me, picked the mouse up by the tail, and began to suck it into his mouth – tail gone then body gone then feet sucked in — it all happened so quickly! As the mouse disappeared into his furry mouth, there was a surprising CRUNCH of the little mouse bones in just a few quick mastications, and it was over. The mouse was gone.

I was in shock.

Clark wandered off, clearly satisfied with his snack. Somehow I managed to get up off the concrete. Behind me, on the other side of the garden in he church, there was a mass in progress. Quietly, I called back my cousin, who undoubtedly wasn't expecting this return call about my "Circle of LIfe" moment.. She helped calm me down with the story of a spider and a bee, which had a similar sad but predictable ending.

I let her go, and next call was to the vet – as there are rat poison stations in this garden, and I was concerned the mouse might be poisoned or diseased.

The after hours vet answered the phone, and though he seemed surprised by the call, said Clark would have to eat about 100 poisoned mice to get sick from it, and there was little to worry about in immediate moment, and no, it is not an emergency, although he might "vomit a bit" and feel ill, he reassured me, "Cats do eat mice all the time, and while we don't recommend it as a diet, just keep an eye on him and bring him in if he shows any symptoms."

So, OK. I started to calm down – then looked around – and Clark was gone! I started searching through all the hedges and bushes – no sign of him. I started to panic – then heard the neighboring crows screaming. They had raised a ruckus earlier in the spring, during nesting season, and Clark hadn't been able to visit the churchyard at all for months. Now, they had spotted him and were giving him the what for. I guess this is what a murder of crows sounds like….

I followed the sound out the gate, and found him in the small back garden by the parking lot, looking for another snack. I scooped him up – no admonishments, just took the furry hunter home.

So, now I have a killer in the house. And for the moment, he is as quiet as….

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