Date of Publication: 03/25/2017
Number of pages: 150
Word Count: 36 000
Now, I’m not sure if it’s like this for every guy out there, but it seems like the main underlying reason for everything I do is because of a girl. It was ‘the girl’ who made me run away from my hometown. And it was ‘the girl’ who almost got me killed. But it was also because of ‘the girl’ that I ended up in New York City with my three best friends on a mad adventure.
My name is Princeton, and I’m a white-footed mouse.
had a little scare this morning. There I was, lying facedown on the garage
floor of 18 Westwinds Boulevard in Princeton, New Jersey. I was only a few feet
away from my home, actually—a little woodpile in the front corner.
felt the bristle of the broom gently pushing then rolling me into the plastic
dustpan. Next thing I knew, I was in a shallow grave in the cedar mulch under
the damn maple tree out front.
a heartbreak, I always like to fantasize about having an untimely death and
going out in a blaze of glory with the girl who broke my heart bawling her eyes
out and wondering how she’s ever gonna live without me. But as great as this
death fantasy is, I’ve never really
wanted to die.
don’t think that this is some sort of Romeo
and Juliet story or anything like that because it’s not. Even if it were,
you should never feel bad when a mouse dies. Our life spans are only about a
year in the wild, but to give you some perspective, one day for a mouse feels
pretty much like a human year. So most of us live good long lives even if they
seem short to people.
yeah, my name is Princeton, and I’m a mouse—a white-footed mouse, to tell you
the truth. We’re often confused with our rival cousin, the deer mouse. Our
coloring is similar to that of a deer—reddish brown on top with white bellies.
The only difference between deer mice and us is our white feet.
the way, Princeton is just my nickname. I don’t wanna tell you my real name
because it’s kind of embarrassing. The nickname Princeton actually started as a
razz. My friends acted as if I had suddenly turned into a douche when I moved
to the town that was home to the prestigious
Princeton University. Sure, it’s full of professors and some of the world’s
brightest young minds, but the attitudes here are exactly the same as in any
other town I’ve ever been to. An outsider with an inferiority complex about
Princeton should see how most of the humans dress here. It’s all sweatpants and
hoodies, I swear to God.
the nickname Princeton just stuck, and to tell you the truth, it’s grown on me.
Nicknames can make or break you. I once knew a guy who was nicknamed The Dove.
Some friends and I had shown up at a grain-silo party, and there was this field
mouse named Miles sitting way up in the rafters, eating all by himself. My
friend Tyler said, “Hey, check it out—the lonesome dove.” Everyone laughed, and
from that day on, Miles was known as The Dove. Imagine getting stuck with that nickname for life. Doves are the
worst. Trust me.
Princeton isn’t the first nickname I’ve ever had. I’ve been called other things
too. This one time, I had to hide out in a hamster cage for a night to evade a
barn cat, and my friend Charlotte started calling me Hamster Boy. Another time,
she started calling me Junior after I had a close call with a vacuum cleaner.
Why Junior? Well, when she was a kid, she had this pet potato bug named Junior
that got sucked up by a vacuum cleaner. She has a sick sense of humor like
I moved to Princeton a couple weeks ago from Port Elgin, Ontario. To be
completely honest, the move was a result of two things, which I’ll tell you
about in a minute.
in Port Elgin, I lived in this little woodpile in the backyard of a big old
two-story century home. It was a great setup. The humans who lived there were
the Sanagans. I actually got to know them pretty well—not personally,
obviously, but you know what I mean. I found a hole in the foundation
underneath their deck that led into the wall right behind the kitchen stove. I
could sneakster my way in and out of there pretty easily.
was never a shortage of food in that house, with old half-eaten boxes of cereal
lined up along the back wall of the pantry. And it was all of the good stuff
too—Honey Nut Cheerios, Lucky Charms, Corn Pops, you name it. The Sanagans were
family was also addicted to watching movies, which was how I became such a
movie buff. I used to do marathons with them, watching from under the couch.
taste in music was also shaped in that house. The one son, J.P., would blast
his tunage while taking showers. I’d always make a point of being in the
bathroom wall near the return air vent in the mornings so I could rock out and
jump around to songs like “Blue Orchid” by the White Stripes, “Sober” by
Blink-182, or “Breed” by Nirvana. J.P. would be dancing and singing along too,
so those days were a lot of fun.
swear, that place would have been like the damn Elysian Fields if it weren’t
for a few of its nonhuman inhabitants: Indy—a silver tabby cat, Rascal—a big
fat calico cat, and Frankie—a little wiener dog. The fat cat wasn’t much to
worry about. She would just lie around all day stretched out on the floor like
Jabba the Hutt. And she had this permanent sore on her back that kind of looked
like a slice of pepperoni. It was strange. I was never sure if I wanted to puke
or lick it. Frankie wasn’t usually a threat, either. That guy was anything but stealth. I could hear him coming
from a hundred miles away with his heavy footsteps and jangly metal collar, not
to mention his incessant yelping, whimpering, and whining. Nope, it was only
Indy who put the fear of God into me.
was an infamous mouser—a mass
murderer—who haunted the dreams of small rodents all across the land. There
were rumors in the neighborhood that she had over three thousand kills dating
back to the early 2000s. Mice, chipmunks, and rabbits were her favorite
targets. During the warmer months, a killing a day was the norm. It wasn’t
uncommon to come across chipmunks or mice who had been chopped clean in half
and left on the front porch or back step like some sort of sick taunt or
medieval warning—a message to us all to watch our asses. Other times, you’d just see the entrails or dry blood spots of
some other poor departed soul.
point is, Indy was a professional assassin, and our crossing of paths was the
push I needed to get out of town.
there I was, out on a movie date with this girl named Jules. She was this
beautiful field mouse I had gone out with a couple times. She was more of a
rebound, to tell you the truth. I was really only seeing her to try to get my
mind off of a recent heartbreak. I was very attracted to her, but we didn’t
have much in common. Deep down, we both probably knew it would never work out.
we’d just finished watching the movie—the Sanagans had put on the fourth Harry Potter—and were on our way back
through the pantry and into the kitchen. I told her to wait the usual ten
seconds to make sure the coast was clear before heading to the exit behind the
stove. But Jules—being the naive little field mouse she was—decided to just
stroll on out there like a moron. Well, guess who came flying around the
corner, barking his head off just as she was walking out? Yup, you guessed
it—Frankie, the wiener dog.
took off like a shot, running straight under the kitchen table and around the
corner of the island. My diversion worked as Frankie was right on my ass. That
meant that Jules was in the clear and had a safe path to the stove.
were small cubbies where I could wait out danger in most parts of the Sanagans’
house. But unfortunately, I was chased into the only area that didn’t have a
hiding place—the dreaded dining room.
A MOUSE!” a human voice yelled out from somewhere behind me. Frankie was still
hot on my heels at that point.
It was one thing for the pets to know you were in their house, but when a human
found out that they had a mouse problem, it was pretty much game over. All of
your routes and hiding places became compromised—holes got filled by foam
insulation; poison-bait stations popped up on every corner of the foundation;
snap traps, electric zapper traps, and glue boards got set up at your favorite
hangouts. It was a real pain in the ass. If you were lucky enough to make it
out alive after being spotted, you’d cut your losses and move on to the next
I could do at that point was beeline it for the junk-cluttered section in the
back corner of the room. When I made it there, I squirmed my way in deep and
hunkered down to catch my breath.
all of the barking and yelling, it was hard to concentrate, but this would be
the best time to escape—during the pandemonium. I shimmied past a bookshelf and
then crawled under the liquor cabinet and stopped for a minute at the back
corner. I had to try to figure out where exactly my pursuers were positioned.
was still barking like a bastard back near the junk pile where I was hiding. I
didn’t have eyes on him, but he was over there for sure. Mrs. Sanagan was in
the same area. I could see her feet and hear her trying to calm Frankie down.
She must have been the one who spotted me on my run over here. I could hear Mr.
Sanagan yelling from either the kitchen or the family room. He wasn’t a very
mobile fellow, so I assumed he would be supervising the mouse hunt from afar.
what I could tell, I only needed to elude the three of them.
I stayed under the liquor cabinet it’d be game over, Frankie would be moving in
to sniff me out at any second. So I did what I had to—I made a run for it.
you ever have that feeling as a kid, when the shortcut to get home required you
to go through a really dark section of a scary forest or alley, and you’d run
through it as fast as you possibly could hoping to God that nothing would
snatch you up? Well, that’s pretty much what it feels like to be a mouse making
a mad dash.
scurrying through the dining room doorway into the kitchen, I rounded the
corner of the island and saw the stove. My heart leapt for joy—home stretch!
But just as I cleared the island, I looked over to my left, and what I saw made
my stomach drop. It was Indy, the mass-murdering killer cat. She was sitting
there on her haunches, no more than a foot away, staring at me with her
squinted green eyes. I instinctively jumped sideways and skidded away from her.
IT IS! GET IT, INDY!” shouted Mr. Sanagan.
as God is my witness—and I’ll never know the real reason why—Indy let me run
right by her. She didn’t move an inch. She just sat there with a carefree smirk
on her face, like she was only there to watch the show. I’ll never forget that
act of mercy she displayed for me that day. Ever.
a few weeks ago, though, I heard some sobs coming from outside of my woodpile
in the garage in New Jersey. It was J.P. He had just gotten word that Indy had
passed away in her sleep back home in Port Elgin. I know I should have been
rejoicing with the rest of the woodland creatures that she’d haunted and
terrorized all of those years, but I ended up saying a little prayer for her
that night. Just out of respect for letting me go that day, ya know?
About the Author:
Professional ice-hockey goaltender and Canadian singer-songwriter, Joe Vercillo, stumbled upon the love of his life, journeyed down to Princeton, New Jersey, and found a dead mouse in a garage.
The rest is history.