Article Overview:   What happens when a mouse roars?   Can it change the lives of a few, perhaps the lives of thousands.   In this case, the mouse squeaked, but the squeak turned into a Roar of Vigilance.  Find out about the Vigilant Mouse.


Saturday--July 5, 2003—Ground Zero Plus 661
The Roaring Mouse of Vigilance
Cliff McKenzie
   Editor, New York City Combat Correspondent News

  GROUND ZER0, New York, N.Y.--July 5, 2003--  It's hard to imagine a rodent being responsible for saving lives, especially a New York City mouse that may be disguised as a mini-rat.
    But in this bizarre case, the mouse is credited with saving lives from the attack of the Beast of Terror on September 11, 2001.

     I was sitting at Starbucks the other day on a hot summer afternoon in the East Village and overheard the story being told at the table next to me.
     It was a girl-packed table, clustered by young women in their late twenties to early thirties.   I paid little attention until one started to tell the story about why she didn't try to capture or kill the mouse that haunts her apartment.
     I was keen on the "mouse story" because my younger daughter who is a federal agent and carries two 9mm Glocks around New York City in her night-and-day job of fighting crime so we all might sleep better, has a deadly aversion to mice and rats.    If she sees one scuttling around or near a garbage can, her resolve for Courage and Bravery turns to Jell-O, and she "eeeks" as the cartoon characters climbing on a chair as a cheese-hungry rodent scurries about wondering why the people are so upset.  This otherwise Amazon is famous for leaping onto her mother's shoulders (or trying to) when a rat crossed her path one evening as they were heading toward her apartment.

Fearless but for rodents

Street rats outside daughter's apartment building

      In fairness, she is fearless in almost every other situation, facing daily those who would kill her in a second, and even though they might be called "human rats" they do not have long tails and tiny red beady eyes, although many of the criminals she hunts down hang out around garbage cans and scuttle about the world of crime not unlike their rodent counterparts.
      The girls talking at the table next to me were of the "eeek ilk," the kind of "rat screamers" whose shrill Voices carve through the night and make you reach for your gun, a knife or the phone to call 911.
       At least, that was my take of them.
       The lead story teller was animated, gesticulating the tale with a mixture of excited joy and reserved revulsion.    She was trying to explain to her friends why, no matter what the mouse/rat did in and about her apartment, she had granted it a pardon.   She would not lay down a single trap, or let the building exterminator in to seek and destroy the varmint, though she had a great fear of mice and rats.
       I leaned back in my chair to pretend I was relaxing from my toils over my laptop and cocked my ear.   It has been over 20 months since the attack and, like the tide that ebbs, the Nine Eleven stories have waned for the most part.
       But this caught my attention because of its unique nature.  It was about the Mouse of Vigilance.
       I'll do my best to recap the story as I heard it.
       It seems on September 10 this girl and a friend visiting her from out of town had made detailed plans for a day of sightseeing in New York City.

 New Yorkers love to show off their city

      When out-of-towners come and stay with you, for the most part your life is changed from whatever you normally do to becoming a tour guide.  New Yorkers love to show off their city, and apparently a full-day of seeing "this and that" was on their agenda.
       Kicking off the tour was an early morning visit to the top of the World Trade Center.   The girl related how she and her friend planned to go downtown early, grab a coffee and muffin, and be the first up to the top of the Twin Towers to get an overview of the city before making the trek to all the other sites.
       As they were finalizing their plans they saw a flash of grey fur streaking across the room.   It was a rodent frenzy of streaks.  
       The teller of the tale brought to mind my daughter's aversion to mice and rats.   Even as she related how she spied the mouse her face twisted about not unlike someone who had taken a bite of a sour-sour apple.
       "We screamed," she said.  "We picked up our shoes and threw them at the mouse.   I felt creepy all over, thinking a mouse was in my apartment."   The other girls at the table nodded and clucked, obvious supporters of mouse-free-zone living.
       She went on to explain how the darting mouse upset her and her friend so much that they were unable to sleep that night.   They laid awake in shifts, armed with shoes, prepared to beat the mouse to death ranging from the tips of stilettos to flats.    A bloody shoe was insignificant compared to a live mouse ruling one's domicile, castle or small apartment overcoming the inhabitant's) with Fear, Intimidation and Complacency--the Triads of Terrorism
        The girl's Complacency was based on her lack of skill at mouse catching.   She related she had no idea how to capture or kill a mouse or mice, and her friend wasn't much more skilled at it than she.
       Groggy the next morning from lack of sleep, the bleary eyed two-some elected to stave off their major adventure to visit the Twin Towers in the morning, and instead, chose to hit the hardware stores the minute they opened and lay traps throughout the apartment so thickly that the mouse could never survive.

Triads of Terrorism: Fear, Intimidation and Complacency

       She shared how her visiting friend willingly contributed to the "kill-the-mouse" fund, and, because she was going to be staying at the apartment for another week, was as eager or more so, to wipe the Intruder Mouse from the face of the earth.
        As the two girls were getting ready to go to the department store, the television blasted out the bulletin that a plane had crashed into one of the Twin Towers.     As with millions of people that hot second Tuesday of September, the world's agenda was erased from their minds, and all that was of any importance was "what is happening?"
        Soon, it was clear:  a Terrorist attack was underway.  Initial reports of victims at the World Trade Center were exaggerated over the final numbers because little information was available as to whom and how many had been killed.   Television news reporters spoke of upwards of ten to twenty-thousand of the approximate thirty-five thousand workers in initial speculations.
        The hardware store and the mouse quickly lost top priority.  Surviving became primary.
         The girl went on to say how over the ensuing months the presence of a mouse in her apartment wasn't a big issue.  The big issue was:  "Where are the Terrorists?"
        But as time passed and life got back to normal, the mundane regained its hold on her, as well as upon the 8.7 million New Yorkers and nearly 300 million Americans living in the U.S.
        The mouse was still around.

       About to call the super to have the exterminator execute the mouse and any of the mouse's children, or her Children's Children's Children, the girl told how she balked.
        I continued to enter the 'mouse notes' in my computer and chuckled to myself as I hear that the mouse has now taken up roosting (or nesting?) in her closet.  He or she has literally "moved in" with her.
        Vigilance is about facing Fear with Courage, overcoming one's Intimidation by mustering at least One Percent more Conviction, and, taking Right Actions that benefit future generations rather than wallow in the quagmire of Complacency.
        For someone who had an ingrained fear of rodents, to allow a mouse/rat to live a few feet away in your bedroom closet--the home she said the mouse had chosen--was indeed a glorious act of reprieve and repayment.
        She was telling the other gals how many times she wanted to pick up the phone and call the building exterminator, and how, when she saw the furry blur of the mouse's body scuttling here or there, or listened to the night to its tiny feet scratching about, or noted the mouse/rat feces, her body would convulse, the blood would drain, and she would gasp deep breaths to control her Fear, Intimidation and Complacency.

"I think about getting rid of the mouse, but just can't do it"

       "I owe that mouse my life and my friend's life," she said.  "How can I kill the mouse?  I can't.  I think about it.  I dream about it.  But I just can't get rid of it."
         The table fell silent.
         Then, there was a common assent.   I had an urge to throw in my affirmation that the girl was doing the right thing by not killing the rat/mouse, but checked myself.   I wasn't supposed to be listening anyway.
          I thought about the heroism of the young woman.
          Thousands upon thousands were cast into a state of shock and psychological trauma over the events of Nine Eleven.    The ghosts of that day still haunt many.
          I'm that way when I hear airplanes overhead flying low.   I had been at Starbucks that morning working on my computer and looked up when I heard the screaming engines of the jet nearly scraping the top of the buildings.   I knew trouble was afoot, and rushed down to see what was happening.
          My trigger for boiling up the Triad of Terrorism in the screaming of engines overhead.
          But, daily, 24/7, this girl lives with not with the Terror of the event, but with the constant reminder that her Terror of the mouse saved her life.
          She has had to put her fear of rodents to the side for over 661 days to date and replace it with tolerance and thanksgiving for a creature most people wouldn't bat an eye about capturing in a glue trap and then driving over it in their car to ensure its death.
          She has her own private Sentinel of Vigilance, even if it takes the form of something scary.
          In its own way, her story is magnificent.

Nightly scuttling of feet remind the storyteller she is alive because of a little mouse

        Many of us, including me, is not reminded daily and nightly of the events of Nine Eleven.  She is.  The scuttling of feet, any strange sound at night, a glance from the corner of her eye picking up movement, all summon the fact that she is alive because of a little mouse.
        In her case, Fear, Intimidation and Complacency worked to her benefit.    Had she not been so wired up against a rodent in her domicile, she might have shined off the importance of a mousetrap over keeping her sightseeing plans.    If that had been the case, she might be a memory, a sad one, and the mouse not the subject of the tale of why she and her friend are still alive after that  horrible morning in September.
        Today, as I gather from her story, she is a minute-by-minute Citizen of Vigilance.   Her daily charge is to protect the mouse.    Against all emotions, she manages to "live and let live," a difficult agenda with a mouse living in your bedroom.
         When one thinks of Bravery and Courage, it is usually centered on a single act in which one rises above the norm of Complacency to exhibit some selfless concern for others--usually at their own risk.
         In this case, the girl's Vigilance after nearly two years to face off her Fears, Intimidations and Complacency deserves the utmost kudos.  
         Her acts of Courage daily include many, since there are 1440 minutes in each day, and the presence of the mouse, or mice,  she answered to one of the girls' questions, is pervasive.
        Plus, she believes she is a Mother of Vigilance.  When asked if the mouse has had children, she thinks it has.    Perhaps more than one batch

Mouse Sentinel of Vigilance alive and well

       This Mother of Mouse Vigilance is paying a debt that will take her lifetime to satisfy.   When prompted about when, if ever, she felt she could kill the mouse, her reply was "never. I couldn't do that.  I owe my life and my friend's life to that mouse."
         Lots of us like to think we were heroes of sorts during Nine Eleven.  At least, part of me likes to think I braved the holocaust and stuck my hand into the mouth of the Beast of Terror.    But such acts come and go with the event of Terrorism.
          Then there are those who live with its negative or positive impact daily.    I have a close friend whose brother was killed that day and has suffered deep psychological scars at the removal of his presence from this earth.   She cries almost daily at her and the rest of the family's loss.

My nightmares dissolve with the rays of the morning sun

          Sometimes I'll awaken in the night and wash from my nightmares the scenes of bodies jumping from the burning buildings, or the horrible ball of fierce anger roiling toward us when the building collapsed and I was sure we would all die.  But those images weave in and out, as clouds unblock the sunlight when they pass overhead.
           This girl lives with the symbol of her life.   Her debt to life itself is bundled in the body of a rodent, a creature whose nature she despises, but has learned to tolerate.
          Worse for her, she explained, is that she does not know which mouse might be related to the original mouse.   Her concern is that for the rest of her life she may never be able to kill a mouse, fearful it might belong to her Twin Towers' Savior.
           She has elected Vigilance.
           It might have been easy for her to give the mouse a reprieve of say a year, and then consider the debt paid in full and call the exterminator.  But she sounded like she had the Spartan attitude--"The mouse and I until death."
           Last night was Independence Day.    My wife and I joined our older daughter, son-in-law and grandchildren to enjoy the fireworks.

           July 4 hallmarks the Day of Freedom.
           For a New York City mouse, September 11, 2001 marks the Day of Freedom.

"The Vigilant Mouse that Roared"

          And for a girl who can't stand mice, that day marks the beginning of the Day of Vigilance, a day she has stretched to over 660 in which she has learned the power of Courage over Fear, of Conviction trumping Intimidation, and how to take Right Actions when Complacency and an exterminator would put her back to "normal."
           She has a "Mouse That Roared."  
           And I'll just call him, "The Vigilant Mouse That Roared."


July 4--America's Spangled Flag of Vigilance

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