I was never one of those little kids who told lies. Yes, I exaggerated (like all kids do), and I relayed false information, but that’s only because I was and am a naively trusting person. Grown-ups kept accusing me of lying and that’s when I decided that I would never lie because then I wouldn’t get trapped and if accused, I could honestly said I never lied. Like that works.
I can’t remember for sure how old I was, let’s say 8, my dad brother and I had gone to the grocery store to pick up boxes for moving. This was in Hallock, MN, a town where we lived in 4 different houses over the years. This was not a major move for us, it was just the end of a 2-year period in one house. Tiemans are a nomadic people, even if it is only across town. We were in the alley behind the grocery store going in the back door and grabbing boxes, which I thought was the coolest thing ever and must mean that we were in some kind of elite group. Who else would be allowed in the back door? I was waiting for my dad to come out with another load so I could help organize them in the truck of our Chrysler 5th Ave., when I saw a mouse run behind the spare tire.
Barely able to contain myself, I yelped, “Dad there’s a mouse in the trunk!”
“No there’s not.” was his immediate answer.
“But there is,” I insisted, “It ran behind that round thing.”
“That’s the spare tire.” He stuck his head into the trunk and looked around while notions of what a spare tire must be rapid-fired through my brain. I decided that it was like some kind of horse-drawn carriage wheel, and pictures our car rolling down the street with three normal wheels and one wooden one. Then I started to wonder how such a big wheel could fit into our trunk.
Boxes loaded, trunk slammed shut, and we made out way to the house we were soon leaving. I told mom my news. She looked at my dad for confirmation and he shrugged “I looked and didn’t see anything.” I reminded him that it had gone around behind the spare tire and he hadn’t really looked there, besides wheels had middles and the mouse could have gone in there too. I was dismissed as some kid who apparently has hallucinations, which really should have concerned them a little bit, but didn’t.
A week later en route to my Aunt Corky’s house there was an unmistakable squeaking sound coming from the trunk. Pulling over and checking more thoroughly confirmed that yes, there was a mouse in the trunk, and now it had given birth to a dozen pink, blind, and disgusting mouse babies. My parents did what anyone would do, once we got to Corky’s, they scooped them out with a garden trowel and threw them under an evergreen to die. As my cousins, brother and I played in the yard that day, we successfully dared each other to poke the mouse babies at least three times, the first time with a stick, but as we got bolder, our bare fingers. All this fun was curtailed when Aunt Corky saw what we were doing and started yelling about rabies. My protests that the mouse babies couldn’t have rabies, they’d never lived outside our trunk, were not noted at all.