Before I start, I better say this...the Irish are great for giving nicknames, and Mick the Buddhist is just that...a Buddhist. Before he was a Buddhist he was a handyman, I guess he still is...of sorts. We all thought the Buddhism thing was a midlife crisis, and it didn't take long for the chanting, vegetarianism and avoidance of alcohol to be dropped, but Mick's natural good nature made the nickname stick.
Anyway, on with the story.
About a week ago, Mick landed into the bar and said he had a mouse in his house. As you are probably aware, Buddhists don't harm anything. This left Mick in a quandary. As a good Buddhist, he should welcome the mouse into his life but as Mick said himself..."The fecker is eating me out of house and home!"
The next day, I was down the hardware shop and came across a Live-Capture Trap. It was only a few euro so I bought it. On the way home I stopped at Mick's cottage. I knew he was home because his bike was lying against the outside wall. When Mick answered the door, he was covered in wood chippings. On Mick's kitchen table stood a towering maze of timber. It turned out he was making a bookshelf. My eye might be off but I could swear the yoke leaned left...and right...at the same time. It was making me queasy just looking at the thing. When I produced the trap, Mick was delighted.
Christmas Eve arrived and Mick turned up for a pint.
"How did yea get on with the trap?" I asked.
"Grand, I nabbed the little guy a couple of days ago."
"And? What did you do with him?" I inquired, as I filled his drink.
"That's the problem...I've still got him," he said looking a bit ashamed.
"Ah Jesus! I thought you were going to put him outside?"
"I was reading up on mice...on the Internet, you know. Apparently, they can find their way back even if you drop them a mile from the house," he said, proud of his knowledge. "Anyway, he's a house-mouse, not a wild mouse," Mick mused.
"Ah...for God sake, Mick, it's a mouse, and Kerry is hardly wild," I teased, dropping his pint on a beer mat.
"I suppose you're right," he said, taking a swig and wiping beer-foam from his whiskers.
"I bet you've been feeding him," I said.
Mick looked like a kid caught with his hand in a cookie-jar. "I couldn't let him starve," he mumbled.
"You’re such a softie," I laughed. By closing time, Mick had heard at least a hundred Micky Mouse jokes.
On Christmas morning, Mick set out on his bike with the little mouse dangling from the handlebars, waving a cheery hello to all he passed. He'd decided to release his little friend in a wooded area close to town. Mick picked a nice spot and opened up the trap. The little mouse scampered out, vanishing into the undergrowth.
Half-past-eight that night, I got a call from a distressed Mick the Buddhist. The day had started out lovely but as night fell a storm had rolled in.
"Hello?" I said into the phone, wondering why Mick would be calling so late on Christmas night.
"Squid, I know it's crazy, but I need a favour. Can you drive me somewhere?" Mick said.
"No bother, where do you need to go," I asked, thinking he'd say, to the doctor or hospital.
"Not far, Barry's Glen, and bring a torch," he said, before hanging up on me.
I picked him up five minutes later and we raced through empty streets and out into the country. After a mile or so we reached the woods.
"What's all this about?" I asked, as I put on the handbrake and glared out into the driving rain.
"I let the mouse go today...out there. Jesus lad, look at the weather, how can I leave him out in this?"
I nearly threw Mick out of the car...but the look on his face stopped me. He was pure miserable. I just didn't have the heart. "Come on so, yea lunatic," I said, clicking on my torch and throwing myself into the maelstrom.
Two hours we search the woods...two bloody hours. No sign of the mouse...of course...because the mouse wasn't half as daft as the two of us.
"That's it! I'm going home!" I declared a dozen times before Mick would admit the futility of what we were at. In the end he got into the car and let me drive him home. He looked like a man who lost a tenner and found a penny. When we got to his house I said, "Don't worry, that little fella is curled up as snug as you like, probably laughing his arse off at the two of us."
"I hope so," said a maudlin Mick, as he gently closed the car door and mooched up toward his front door.
Today, Mick burst into the pub a changed man. He was beaming from ear to ear.
"What's got you grinning?" I asked.
"You won't believe it! It's a Christmas miracle!" he said, throwing his arms to the heavens.
"I didn't know Buddhists believed in Christmas, or Miracles," I said, loud enough to draw a chuckle from the lads along the bar.
"Shut up and let me tell the story, you messer," he said, sitting at the bar. "I was fair upset last night...when we couldn't find yerman. I was so bad, I even tried a bit of meditation. Now, I don't know if it was the meditation…or the hot whisky's…but I was soon snoring on the rug in front of the fire. Jesus, it was the middle of the night when I woke up. I was stiff as a plank, hell, I was half crippled. I was trying to crawl up the stairs when I heard rustling coming from the kitchen. I thought I'd imagined it, so I held my breath and listened. Then it came again. Rustle, rustle, crackle, crunch. Quite as you like, I got myself up and snuck into the kitchen."
Mick paused for dramatic affect.
"Well?" I demanded...he had me hooked.
"Low and behold, when I turned on the light...wasn't the mouse sitting, as bold as you like, in the middle of the table. He'd chewed through the corner of the cornflakes box and was stuffing himself. He must have been starved after his adventure. He didn't even run when I turned on the light. Can you believe it, he found his way back! A Christmas miracle!" Mick said, and the crowd was awestruck. We'll they were...until one wise-ass piped up.
"It must have been a homing mouse!"
Everyone started laughing and Mick went very red. The others didn't hear Mick say this...but I did.
"Still a miracle," he whispered.
"Here," I said, putting a pint in front of Mick. "A Christmas drink to toast your good fortune." Mick took a sup of his pint and I didn't have the heart to tell him, that when you have one mouse in your house, you most likely have dozens.
Perhaps It’s the child in me, but I think the story of the homing mouse miracle of Christmas is much better than a mouse too stuffed with cornflakes to run away.