I've heard of Rat Week. I don't know what it is, but it doesn't sound like anything I'd willingly take part in. It is, apparently, a college thing, but it's something I missed during my days of big hair and scrunched socks. I was busy studying alone in my dorm room and volunteering for various church-related charities.
This week, however, has given me a taste. Okay, perhaps that's not the phrase I want to use here because this hasn't been Rat Week. It's been Mouse Week.
It started over the weekend when I finally gave up waiting for MathMan to put out the mouse bait and did it myself. Hey - you over there wondering why I was waiting for the big, strong man to poison the itty bitty mice - I was waiting for him to do it because when I bought the stuff, he said he would take care of it. Then the waiting began. He's a busy man. This is our system. If I mention it, he gets huffy and if I jump in and do it myself, he gets huffy. Meanwhile, I continue to get a fright whenever I go into the garage because a bunch of mice are holding a key party in the trashcan next to the door.
After what seemed like an acceptable amount of time in marital gridlock, I chose action. I put the bait out knowing that if I had to, I could apologize later. The fact that I was stepping out of the shower when I mentioned my betrayal probably had nothing to do with MathMan's insouciant response. He didn't even blink as he said, "That's fine.........."
I warned the cats to stay away from any mice who migrated into the house because they could be snacks bearing a deadly dose of poison.
The cats, being cats, didn't listen. Tuesday I traipsed through a darkened hallway in my barefeet and stepped on a dead mouse. After I finished screaming, I scooped up the carcass bearing a few bite marks and disposed of it. I congratulated the cats en masse then retired to my bedroom where I showered and had a lie down.
On Wednesday, it was brought to my attention that "we" had a dead mouse in the garage. Funnily enough, none of those assholes I live with picked up said mouse and disposed of it. So last night, I gathered up my courage, donned some thick gardening gloves and a pair of safety goggles and descended the garage steps.
I'm not sure why I thought the safety goggles were necessary, but it turns out I could have used one of those white masks to keep the germs out.
There wasn't one mouse. There were five. I swept the first one into the dustpan while trying to look away. I apologized to the poor mouse and with a little salute slid him into the plastic bag I had with me. The next mouse; the same thing.
Then I eyeballed the third mouse. It was by far the largest. It was going to take me a minute to recover and carry on with this clean up so while I tried to clear my head, I swept the garage floor. I swept out the corners near the outside doors, under the lawnmower and behind the bicycles. I moved the trash and recycling and swept out from behind them.
Let me just say that that garage floor is clean.
Finally, I forced myself to get back to the task. On my approach to the big, quite grizzled looking mouse carcass, I noticed another, much smaller body by the workbench.
A baby mouse. I'd killed a baby mouse.
I went to it and apologized in my high squeaky voice, the voice normally reserved for cats, puppies, and deer on the side of the road.
I am so so sorry.
Well, what did I think was going to happen when I put out the poison? Poison doesn't discriminate, you murderer.
I took the broom and began to sweep the poor little thing into the Dustpan of Doom. The mouse had other ideas.
While I leaped back and screamed, it started to flop around with its lower body inert. It made a valiant effort and turned itself over. Once it got its momentum, it rolled some more. That mouse was doing sideways somersaults in my direction!
I clutched the broom and dustpan like talismans and stepped back, just barely avoiding the big, dead mouse.
My shoulders slumped as I considered what to do next. The baby mouse stopped flopping around and stretched out one tiny, fingered paw in my direction as if to say "I hope you're happy now, Lady! May you never forget this moment."
Yeah, I'm going to be seeing that in my dreams for a long, long time.
I asked the garage what Karma would deliver to me in retribution.
Karma, that wretch, didn't wait long to answer.
I took a deep breath and braced to clean up what had grown into a rat in my mind. As I swept it into the pan, it turned over. Maggots cascaded from its head. I choked back the... well, you can imagine.
The rat dispatched to the garbage bag, I decided to give the baby mouse a little reprieve while I collected the mouse I noticed next to the furnace. That went well enough if you don't mind the smell of death. Me? I'm not a fan.
Finally I had to put the baby out of its misery. By which I mean I swept him into the pan and slid him as gently as possible into the plastic bag and then put that bag into the garbage bag and tied it up and tried not to think of anything especiallythemovementsandtinysoundscomingfromthebag.
A green ribbon hung perversely from a small opening in the top of the garbage bag. I left it there.
Feeling silly for putting them on in the first place, I stashed the safety goggles in their drawer. Then, while I tugged off the gloves, I took one last glance around the garage and shivered.
So this is death. Time for another shower and a lie down.