81 THE DAY BEFORE CHRISTMAS
'Twas the day before Christmas and every mouse in the house was busily thinking about the upcoming feast. For after the family had feasted on food with all the trimmings, and the family cat as well, they would collectively collapse into a calorie-induced stupor, and decide to put all the food away the next morning. One year the mistress even left the refrigerator door slightly ajar.
The mouse king and his eldest son were into the planning and preparation phase; and everything looked good. The mistress of the house had returned from the grocery store with sacks and sacks of groceries; and pleasant odors were emanating from the kitchen.
"I think it's going to be a good one," said the leader of the mice to his son, sniffing the air. "No, not a good one, a great one."
"I just hope she didn't get that Swiss cheese with so many holes in it," said the young mouse. "By the way, who's taking care of the cat this year."
"You are, son," said his father, "just add the usual amount of sleeping potion to his catnip; so when he takes a nip, he'll be out like a light."
Well, to make a long story short, either the son forgot to lace the catnip, or else the cat forgot to take the nip. In any case, when the mice came out for the feast the cat still had one eye open, and watched the mice carefully as they descended upon the leftovers.
Finally, the cat judged that the time was right; and pounced. But having eaten all he had intended to eat, and more, and with but one eye open, the pounce was on the short side. Truth be told, he was not even close. And the mice quickly took refuge in the empty belly of the turkey.
"What do we do now, pop?" asked the mouse king's son, a worried look coming over his face.
"Well, we've been in worse situations before," said the father, as he peered out the rear end of the bird, looking directly into one large mean-looking cat-eye. "At least we won't starve," he said. However, he also knew that the longer they stayed where they were, and ate from the bird, the less would be their protection. He thought for a while, twirling his whiskers with one paw, then said: "Why don't you tunnel out the neck, and run for cover; and when the cat chases after you, we'll escape out the back end."
The son nodded obediently. It was some of the most delicious tunneling he had ever done; but he knew he should go easy on the tunnelings, as he would have to scamper away very quickly.
Which he did. The cat raced after him, when suddenly, with both cat eyes opened wide, one paw clutching his breast, the cat collapsed, his ninth life up.
The mice continued the feast as a memorial service for the cat; and everyone said that it was the nicest Christmas they'd ever had.
MORAL: It's nice when things end happily ever after.
© 1998 George J. Seidel