Just a few days ago I passed my 47th birthday and the events around my birthday better than ten years ago came to mind. The events are true and the names have been changed to protect those involved.
Meta, Roman, my brother, and I were sitting talking among ourselves one evening in the late 90s. I remember that the television was on but the sound had been muted. Whatever the topic of that night’s conversation was has long escaped me. May be it fled my memory after the image of a small, furry, shadow with distinct brown highlights darted across the threshold of a closed door, the door to the outside, bathed in bright illumination.
I jumped to my feet and yelled, “Mouse!”
After which I tore into a stack of makeshift shelves, Roman was quick to join in the hunt. Needless to say we didn’t find the mouse. Roman, it seemed, was wondering if I had just had a hallucination as some schizophrenics do and I happen to be one that does. Meta on the other hand was willing to admit the possibility, being that the appartment we rented was poorly maintained and near the water. She would state that she believed me but for some reason, possibly my own paranoia, I had the sensation of being humored. Rather than push the argument to its natural extreme I dropped it and everything settled back down after the makeshift milk crate shelves were reassembled. Roman left the appartment that night semi-certain that he had somehow just taken part in a hallucination. Meta went on about her night and the following days as if nothing had changed and I forgot about the mouse. I want to say, that with in the week, but it might have been ten days, Meta saw the mouse for herself.
The little critter ran across a door way that sat between our spare bedroom and the kitchen. She had seen it clearly and when she told me of the incident she stressed, I mean STRESSED, that she and the mouse could not share the same living space and as she paid part of the rent so it was the mouse that had to go. I mean, she wanted the critter dead. I can remember that look in her eye, it sends a chill up my spine to this day. I felt that the mouse was a living being, just like her and I, and it had a right to live too. She aggreed, just not in the same space she lived i. , Meta was very insistant. I had no way of capturing the mouse and releasing it (That was my big point in the debate). She stated again, the mouse can’t live with her, eyes blazing with a murderous fury.
“What did that mouse ever do to you? Humm?” I did my best to sound like an anti-war protester and worked up the saddest eyes I could. It was my trump play and she softened like butter. Mice had a right to live, didn’t they. So the mouse and Meta and I lived moderately comfortably, for the next several weeks, everybody relaxed and there was time of peace and prosperity. That was until what Meta and I refer to as the “incident” occurred. It was nearing the end of the first third of july and my birthday, the 9th, was close at hand. Meta made for the day of my birth a most spectacular chocolate cake. This was a specific receipe that would come into creation from her precious finger tips pulled from the back of the Hershey’s Cocoa can once a year at best, like some bit of ancient magick. This wasn’t just any cake now, as it was assembled from scratch, the icing extra, extra chocolate. Now there are those in the world who don’t have a taste for such a thing and maybe prefer spice, yellow, fruit or angel food but for those who do it was a piece of the divine. The chocolate so heavy that it could cause one’s mouth to seal shut and the only cure was cold milk or possibly vanilla ice cream. She had finished it, whorls of thick black icing calling to me when she said, “I think I’ll put this in the refridgerator.”
“What!” I said, “Don’t put that in the fridge!” I despised cold hardened cake.
“What about the mouse?” She says.
I surveyed the tables spindley metal legs that joined with the top well underneath and the smooth paneling that climbed up the wall beside the table and said, “The mouse can’t get on that table!” I admit my tone may have been a bit condesending.
“It surely can,” She says. To which I respond, “What is the damn thing? Spider man?” “O’Kay,” She says, the vowels pulled in such a manner that I would later realize was dictated by experience. So the next morning I crawled out of bed, pulling on my second hand factory worn overalls and made my way to behold my birthday cake with an anticpation hitherto only seen in children. I approached the cake slowly, I know I was smiling, in the strata Meta and I found ourselves living in this was my gift and it was a big deal. My gaze dropped down to behold what would be to my eye the most bueatiful confection ever conceived when my smile froze. Tiny little foot prints crossed the delicatible surface starting at the corner nearest me. It seemed that the little bastard had decided to go for a walk one day, but not in month of may. There, in the corner nearest me were eat marks, but apparently, atleast as far as the mouse was concerned, the cake there wasn’t good enough for him. so he marched in practically a straight line to where he would try again. The second eat mark was larger, the cake there must have been better to the rodent’s discerning palette. Half the cake, ruined, the smile falling from my face. Some would say the mouse was very rude, I would call it a travesty, a disgraceful, ungrateful assualt apon its ally. After all I was the one that had saved the mouse’s life. So, with steam puffing from my ears, I cut the cake in half, disposing the parts the mouse had definitely walked apon. I then hacked a chunk from the remaining cake, six four frame leaning against the door, surveying the appsartment as I, growling, chewed on a piece of cake that the little vagrant decided was good enough for me, Mind dark with thoughts of revenge.
My thinking was direct and simple, I had longer legs than it did so I was probably faster, no doubt I was stronger, I could bench 230 pounds and I had some college so I must be smarter. Tool of choice? an Aluminum ball bat. At first Roman assisted, each of us equiped with an aluminum ball bat. The minute we sighted the mouse off we would charge metal thudding the floor like a giant’s club. As it would turn out, a mouse which believe me is a very small animal is also very fast. The little critter was a blur and we never got anywhere near him with the crude weapons we were using. After a few days Roman lost interest and I didn’t presist much longer. It seems a seige situation had developed. The mouse was definately faster than I was, but I still had strength and brains. While I sat watching and thinking it occurred to me that I had an insurgency on my hands. The mouse had become cocky, when Meta and I were sitting in the living room, he would pause in the center of the doorway. In clear sight, the mouse, would sit up like preforming for some photo oppertunity. I realized that “live and let live” had turned into appeasement. Since I couldn’t take him man to mouse I would have to bring in technology. After all, its what humans are good at, creating technology, especially the killing kind. The beginning of August came and so did the bit of money from socail security. Along with paying bills we purchased a few mouse traps.
An effectuive device that had changed little in a hundred years. I had been studying the mouse’s movements and after baiting the traps with peanut butter (everybody likes peanut butter) I carefully placed them and went to bed confident that the problem would soon be solved. There are times in the dark of night or morning, sometimes even late morning, when a body’s stirs one into moving to answer some call of the wild, in this case, to use the bathroom. Eye’s heavy with sleep my feet knew the way by memory as I took slow careful steps towards my goal. For reasons today that still escape me, my eye opened just as I was about to complete my last step before turning into the restroon. Frozen, before any thought could fully crystillize in my mind, there under my left foot, held still in mid air on its course to the floor, lay a mouse trap, still set. I staggered back and stooped low to get a good look. It had been pulled out from its place behind the utility room door and repositioned where we would have unknowingly stepped. This had been accomplished without setting the thing off and the little freak had stripped the peanut butter bait. This was no ordinary mouse. Then a thought occurred to me, what if he had brought friends? I looked suspiciously around the appartment, every corner, behind the furniture, even in the walls we could have, through my complacency allowed an army of mice to overwhelm our defenses.
I had set four booby traps for the mouse and each was stripped of bait and repositioned in a main walkway and remained set. I can still feel the crawl of chills up and down my spine. Whether it was a mouse or mice, they weren’t the ordinary kind. Some sort of hybrid, probably engineered in some NAZI lab as an odd last hope to win World War II and now they were in my home. Then an even more chilling thought, what if we had a rat?
Meta had wisely held back a few dollars from one of the bills we owed, probably the land lord. It is vital in times of crisis to have a top notch Secretary of the Treasury, especially when raising the debt ceiling (gettiing a credit card) is out of the question. With some of this money we purchased two mechanical rat traps. Never have I seen a more menacing piece of home pest removal equipment before in my life. As I set and baited the rat booby traps I was keenly aware that one miss step would, in the very least, break one of my fingers, one misstep could cost a toe. They seemed incredibly sensitive and I grinned with the knoweldge that the tide was about to turn in our favor. If this mouse were only a lone scout then his timely eliminataion could prevent a broader conflict. But, if the insurgency was at full swing, well it could give us the advantage we needed. Mouse traps, rat traps, all set, carefully positioned, baited, my wife and I went to bed and slept well.
What happened with the mouse traps would be repeated with the rat traps the following morning turning our hallway between the bedroom and the livingroom, the spine of our home into a mine field. I realized that not only was the mouse or mice faster, they were porportionately stronger and, yes they were even smarter than I. Brute strength had no avail and the mechanical type technology had been turned against us. As against chemical weapons as I was, I realized that I had found myself in a corner and that a good solid weapon of mass destruction seemed to be the only way out.
Meta, with our last few dollars, purchaesed some Decon. We had no pets or small children and under such circumstances Decon is an inexpensive and effective weapon. It could be compared to Raytheon’s answer to cock roaches with less radioactive fall out. Tense, feeling the apparent threat from the uber mouse, I carefully placed the poison in key junctions of his nightly runs, his Ho Chi Minh Trail as it were. That was it. No more mouse. In the future if Meta tells me she can’t live with some critter, you bet I’ll listen.