by Lisa

Two weeks ago, a scout showed himself.  He didn’t look like any mouse I’d seen, sooty black and brave and bouncy.  His path never varied.  He had a schedule: sunset, quiet house, leave closet, crawl under bedroom door, under dresser, then under refrigerator.  The rest I couldn’t see.

So, I had a mouse.  The rodent management section at the hardware store terrified me.  He didn’t need to die, he just needed to leave.  I announced the presence of the mouse in my house at work, and the new Pie Lady offered to adopt him.  Solution!  Catch that mouse, send him packing, and he lives a fat and lazy life with this nice girl.  The night before I needed to go to work, he closed himself in the trap and spent the night there.  His attitude had become less bouncy, but he recovered after a few bites of apple and raisin, and even tried to chew his way out of the box she made for him.

Another trap stayed in place, baited with peanut butter, just in case.  It snapped closed two days later.  The mouse inside didn’t handle its confinement well, and chewed itself in panic.  I found this out when I tried to release it near the bike trail.  A heavy rock ended that mouse’s misery.

Again, two quiet days, and another mouse in the trap.  Again, self-mutilation forced me to kill it myself.  I knew what to expect this time; the traces of blood at the breathing vent sent me in search of a brick.  I smashed the box, black plastic shards and fur and one eye dislodged from the whole thing.  A mess.

After the first bloody mouse, I bought enclosed death-inducing traps, four of them, just in case.  More peanut butter, a turn of a sinister clicky dial, and it was set.  The second bloody mouse happened, and I put the death traps in places where I would go, if I were a mouse.  A quick death must be more humane than the terror of being trapped and gnawing and gnawing.

They didn’t die.  Three as of today have been broken inside the traps, but not too broken to kick and squeal when the trap tilted in my hands.  One last death trap and one “humane” trap are set, and I expect to have to finish off those mice, if they are unlucky enough to get caught.  The last one, I drowned in its trap, in a bucket of rainwater in the back yard.  The water around the black box curled red and then pink, and in less than ten seconds, the box was still and the water stopped shivering.  I’ll drown the rest.  We’ve had plenty of rain.

Every morning, a new death.  Today, two.

The first little black mouse did not take to his life of leisure.  He rebelled until his well-meaning caretaker took him to a park.  He sprang from the box and ran to the top of a tree, lucky.

My love offers to check traps for me, wants to spare me the tears.  In these gray days, tears will come regardless, so there may as well be a good reason for them.  Better to exploit the mice and the rain and these little casualties than to blame anything less explainable, I think.  The rain came just in time.