Friday, April 20, 2012

Bring out your dead


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.


  1. YOU ARE THE WORST PERSON EVER. I'm glad we don't have mice because, being a giant sap, I'd probably have to find someone else in the house to deal with their demise.

  2. I had mice at my old apartment (and briefly at the new place), and it made me feel like a terrible person (though thankfully I didn't have any half-alive ones). Steel wool for all the little holes and gaps will be your best friend though and might make you feel slightly less guilty!

  3. You had to kill them, or you would have had hundreds of mice by Christmas.

  4. You are a MOUSE MURDERER but that was funny as all get out. Who can make such a scene this funny? I'm guessing you and D. Sedaris. There, I said it. And it's true!!!

    Poor poor little baby mouse..... (in my high squeaky voice) That would do me in.

  5. Aaaaand now I'm singing the "Ratigan Theme Song" from The Great Mouse Detective. . .

  6. Poison is tricky stufff ... You don't want predators such as cats, owls or coyotes eating poisoned mice .. that's why I use snap traps w/ peanut butter as a foolproof bait.

    Be thankful you're not hunting NYC rats, they hold grudges like forever.

  7. All those cats and you still have mice? Just what are the Pussies for Peace good for other than coming up with pithy sayings for protest placards?

    I'm with Bill - get some snap traps. You can get ones that are pre-set and pre-baited. Some are even designed as box traps so you won't have to see the cadavers.

  8. especiallythemovementsandtinysoundscomingfromthebag

    Oh my god! You buried the baby mouse aliiiiive! You sick mouse-murderer!

  9. Better that you got them now, or you would have had one hundred mice by Christmas. Sorry you had to go through the ordeal, though.

  10. The Pussies for Peace would change their minds about mice if they went a few days without their Tender Vittles.

  11. Unfortunately, the cats aren't allowed in the garage for a variety of reasons but especially because there's a hole in the wall that leads to a place under the front porch and I don't want them escaping through it. They're indoor only cats.

    The mice that do get into the house are typically captured and played with until I or MathMan rescues the mouse or disposes of it. Or STEPS ON IT.

    Now if you want to say something about those cats, let's discuss the one who refuses to cover his poo in the litter box. Stinky!

    Also, I'm rethinking the poison and will go get the snap traps. I hate causing these mice any more pain than necessary. I wish they'd just be happy living outside.

  12. I felt bad about putting borax and sugar down for the invading ants--which by the way works wonders--but the baby mouse, OH!

  13. One more word about snap traps... place traps on newspaper or cardboard, sometimes there's messy splatter.

  14. You are as bad as my partner! She refuses to let me use poison with the mice. This is all because one year we found a dead baby owl in our back yard and Bing became convinced that it had eaten a poisoned mouse. She also tried to guilt me by saying that our dog, Socks, might try to catch a mouse and die. This was truly hilarious because our dog (a Scottie terrier...who is supposedly genetically inclined to hunt mice) is absolutely terrified of mice and runs like a little girl dog when he sees them. We now use sticky traps. Bing's job is to take them to a nearby park and pluck them off the sticky trap and set them free. What I hadn't banked on was coming home, seeing something move out of the corner of my eye and spy a mouse running for it's life, dragging a sticky trap with it's back feet. It tried to jump into one of our radiators and of course, the sticky trap wouldn't fit, so it had a problem. And I was the one who ended up plucking the trap off the radiator with the mouse still attached and giving me a truly vile look. This was, of course, because Bing was not home and my daughter was shrieking, "Mama, he's trying to escape in the radiator! Catch him!"

    I am fine with poison. Just fine.

  15. I'm amazed you didn't put out a call for people to adopt them after you dressed them in cute little mouse clothes and took pictures. Or you could put tiny signs near the floor of your garage with photographs of blue sky Caribbean holiday retreats which might encourage them to emigrate.

    On the other hand you could try the method used in The Wire.

  16. When my parents were newlyweds, they had problems with mice. After going through several traps because they caught so many mice they became ineffective, they reached a lull. Crawling in to bed, my father began a monologue, in the voice of a sniffing baby mouse, wondering where his Mommy was, she had gone out for food for them and hadn't come home. My mother was so affected by this (and PO'd at Dad), that she refused to ever set out a trap for a mouse. Ever. Dad did it without a second thought, though. Part of me laughs at my father's sense of humor, another part wonders because there is something cruel in doing something like that, isn't there.

  17. Oh yuck! I too had the thought that you have soooo many cats how could a mouse be in the house... but they were camping out in the garage where the cats are not.
    I would have never in a million years thought this method would work, but out in the forest in a tree planting camp Yurt, we had a mouse problem.
    Someone took a 5 gallon bucket, filled it with about 3 inches of water, ran a stick (like a yardstick ruler) from the ground up to the top of a bucket, and then had suspended a narrow board with a glop of peanut butter in the middle.
    I kid you not, we caught 15 mice the first night. they go towards the peanut butter & fall into the abyss.
    This drop (dead) in a bucket method is both cheap & effective.
    Any way to have to do the deed is yucky, but at least this method contains them all in one place, does not involve poison & apparently works quite well, plus it is out in the garage away from everything.

    My philosophy is if unwanted critters, including piss ants & mice stay out of my house, I leave them alone. If they invade my space, they gotta go.

    PS: My various neighbors have cats, and they use our yard for a cat freeway... but since they have, we've not had mice. Before that we had a mouse in the house who was aggressive-- in that it ran TOWARDS us, rather than away. Freaked me out. Fortunately it went for a traditional mouse trap peanut butter snack.
    Took a few days before we *had a winner* in the muse trap sweepstakes.
    They gross me out so much, I just throw away the whole trap w mouse.

  18. Holy crap and YIKES!! Now I think I need to lie down!

  19. I could tell you about the story I heard of the woman who put down one of those glue traps for the mouse in her apartment, and how horrified she was when it caught not one but five mice, each of whom had on arm free and they were working together to use their one free limb to drag themselves to freedom. Picture that in your head.

    That said, I understand most vermin, including mice, hate strongly scented things we might like, like spearmint and other nice smells. I read somewhere that if you have a mouse problem you should stuff any holes with used dryer sheets because they are still strongly scented and mice will stay away.

    Oh, and the toilet paper tube/peanut butter/trashcan trap works.

    Finally, this was very funny and you should send it out and see if there's any interest in republishing it.

  20. Goggles and gloves? I would've been in full haz mat - top to toe

  21. Agh I have to say this was really disturbing to me. It also brought back bad memories from my childhood, when we used those cruelty-free catch-and-release mouse traps. Let me be clear: They are NOT cruelty-free if you put one in your basement and forget about it for two years, which is when twelve-year-old Laura finds it complete with a MOUSE SKELETON from the poor bastard who starved to death in it. Yes.

    I'm a little disappointed in your cats for not handling this mouse infestation on their own, by the way. For shame.

  22. We should let you borrow Brownie and Gray for a few weeks :). They're both marvelous hunters and they tend to eat the remains making clean up a whole lot easier.

    Sorry you had to go through all of that trauma!


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