“What are we going to do about Sarah’s mice?”
Bob grunted, engrossed in his newspaper. Finally, aware that Janie was still standing by his chair patiently waiting for an answer, he looked up.
“What exactly do you think we should do? Sarah is very attached to Mini, so I suspect it would be out of the question to …” He let whatever else he might have said hang in the air as Sarah entered the living room on her way to the kitchen.
“No, we can’t”, Janie replied, answering the question as soon as her daughter was safely out of earshot.
“First time in my life I’ve prayed for the safe delivery of baby mice.”
“It was very good of you to do that. Sarah was so nervous after what happened to the first babies.”
“It’s a terrible thing to say, but it was fortunate for us that Max killed the first four, or we’d be up to our eyeballs in white mice.”
“It IS an awful thing to say, and don’t let Sarah hear you. You know that she was heartbroken. She cried for days. Those mice are like her own babies. How was she to know that Max needed to be separated from Mini before the babies were born?”
“Personally, I think Max was trying to escape the responsibilities of fatherhood.”
Janie rested a hand on Bob’s shoulder, leaned over and whispered in his ear: “Not everyone is as good a dad as you are, dear.”
“Okay, okay, so we need to think of something less drastic than a giant mousetrap. But I do have an idea that might work. I’ll take Max to see Freddy, the vet. Maybe he can come up with a solution that will keep us all happy.”
Hours later, Bob returned with a very subdued Max.
“Well?” asked Janie.
“Freddy’s in shock. He’d never castrated a mouse before. In fact, I doubt that anyone had ever made such a request before I walked into his office this morning. But he did it.”
“Oh good. No more trouble from Max. Sarah will be pleased. She’s never forgiven him for killing the first litter, so castration will satisfy her sense of justice, and solve our problem.”
But to Janie and Bob’s consternation, it wasn’t long before they noticed that Mini was pregnant once again.
“What happened, Bob?”
Bob shrugged sheepishly.
“Freddy did say that there was an outside chance that Max might have a little bit more gas in his tank even after surgery.”
“And you didn’t think to mention this earlier?”
Happily, there was no time for Bob to respond. Sarah raced in and interrupted the discussion.
“Mini’s having her babies. Hurry.”
Later, three stunned humans walked out into the living room.
“I can’t believe this”, exclaimed Janie. “Freddy said Max MIGHT had a LITTLE bit more gas?”
“He had no way of knowing for certain.”
“Eleven babies is not a little bit, it’s a very big bit.”
Sarah looked up from the chair into which she was now slumped.
“Maybe I should open a pet store,” she said.
“Make sure Freddy isn’t your vet,” suggested her mother.
The next morning, a reasonably quiet breakfast was disturbed by a frantic Sarah.
“I can’t find him.”
“Can’t find who?” asked Janie.
“Max. His cage was locked last night when I went to bed, but he’s not there now. I’ve looked everywhere.”
Sarah looked at her father.
“Daddy, you didn’t do anything to Max, did you?”
“I admit that I considered it, but the answer is no, I didn’t. Are you sure you’ve checked everywhere?”
All three searched every room, closet and possible hiding place. No Max.
“Is it possible that he went out the window?” Janie shook her head. “Perhaps he was overwhelmed by fatherhood.”
Bob thought for a moment.
“If he did, a memorial service is in order. We’re nine floors up. Eleven kids is a bit daunting, though I have to say that suicide’s kind of a brutal way to escape the stress of parenthood.”
Sarah harrumphed. “Dad. Mom. This is mouse we’re talking about. Don’t take it so seriously.”
The parents exchanged looks.
“And I only have one,” said Bob.
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