Pennsylvania Jack

The Fragetts Are Loose

a story by Pennsylvania Jack

(C) Jack Graham, 1999

Nobody knew where to look. At first, mom didn't even know anything was missing. When she did find out, she just stood wringing her hands, almost in hysterics. "What should we do?" she asked. "Where could they be?"

Audrey knew all about it. At first even she wasn't exactly sure how it had come about. She had been standing in the hall when it happened. Her dad had come down the steps and stopped to straighten his tie at the mirror in the hall. That's when he had set the package down on the table under the mirror. That's also when the doorbell rang. "Will you get that, Tom?" Audrey’s mother yelled from upstairs. "OK,dear," her dad had replied, and he headed for the front door, leaving the box right there on the table.

Audrey was at the other end of the hall, right near the kitchen door,but close enough to notice the box move slightly. Then it moved again, and fell off the table. The lid popped off, and out of the box scurried several little white mice. She could scarcely believe what was going on before it was all over. The mice had disappeared. Under the rug? Behind the table legs? They were nowhere to be seen.

Since she wasn't sure she was supposed to know there had been white mice in the box, Audrey turned quickly and ducked into the kitchen. She picked up a dishtowel and began to put away the dishes in the drying rack.

"Who was it, Tom?" her mother hollered down the stairs. "It was some high school kid selling grapefruit. I bought some." In another moment, Audrey heard her dad exclaim, "Oh no! They're loose!"

Running to the hall, Audrey almost collided with her mother, who was coming down the stairs. "What's loose?" they both asked at once. "Loose? I didn't say loose. I said, I thought I heard a goose."

"This is getting weird," Audrey thought to herself, knowing her dad was trying to cover up the mice. "It's only because he knows Mom will absolutely freak if she even thought there was a mouse in her house, "Audrey told herself, but she wasn't sure she believed it. Even as he spoke, Dad was casually putting the lid back on the box and tucking it under his arm. Audrey got a whiff of those cedar chips that are used with mice and hamsters to keep down the rodent smell.

"Is that all the grapefruit you bought?" Audrey asked, pointing to the small box.

"Oh, this? No, this is a new fragett for my drill press. In fact, I think I'll put it down in the basement now so I don't forget where it is." With that he hurried off to the cellar door, but not before shooting Audrey a very suspicious glance.

"Did your father act a little strange about that box?" mom asked Audrey when dad was out of sight. "You know how men are about their tools! "Audrey replied, already knowing too much for her own good, but not enough to satisfy her curiosity. As she turned back toward the kitchen, she spotted a small white critter streak across the hall rug and into the living room. "Come on mom, let's finish the dishes," said Audrey, as she looped her arm in her mother's and led her away from the mouse sighting.

Well it turned out the mice were a birthday present for Billy Kravitz who lived next door. Billy's dad had asked Audrey's dad to keep them for a few days, because he was sure Billy would find them first and ruin the surprise. So Billy was told he had three white mice for his birthday, but as an added surprise, he would have to catch them in Audrey's house. With the help of Billy's dog Fetch, and Audrey's dog Whizzer, and several other neighborhood kids, and several butterfly nets, all of the mice were soon captured. They only broke one lamp in the process. Audrey's mother insisted on all new rugs in the living room, as well as a new lamp, so in the end she made out pretty well.

"You knew about the mice, even before I admitted it, didn't you?" Dad asked Audrey. "Yep, I did," she replied. "You can't fool me, dad. I'll even get you a new fragett for your drill press for your birthday, if you really need one!"