The Exterminator’s Tale
Now that I think about it, I need to pray about the mice. A couple of weeks ago I found a mouse in the foyer. The cat was flipping her tail around, batting at the mouse with her paw with no intention of harming the rodent. So I caught the mouse in a cup and released it across the street in the park. I thought the little critter was a bit cute and thought myself rather noble and fearless for catching it and releasing it. I reasoned that I had one cute little mouse in the house—no big deal.
Then last week I came home from work and found the cat chasing a mouse down the hall. Again I caught the mouse in a cup and released it in the pouring rain behind the house. Hmmm . . . another mouse. I hoped it wasn’t an indication that mom and dad, the septuplets, Aunt Minnie, Uncle Mickey, and the rest of the YMCA (Young Mouse Civic Association) had taken up residence. Late that same night I saw a mouse flit into the drawer under my stove. I pulled out the drawer, grabbed my trusty cup and gingerly began taking out the pots and pans in the drawer. Down to the last cookie sheet—the mouse darted out, ran around the kitchen, under the stove, and down the hole where the gas line came in. I did not catch this one, but at some point in the process, while I was trying to catch it in the little cup, I heard something erupt from my throat. This was a sound I can’t recall ever making before and don’t think I could replicate it if I had to, like something from The Exorcist. The cat ran fast and far—her only responsibility as a feline pet is to protect me from rodents and she failed miserably.
“No more Mr. Niceguy,” I shouted down the hole, after I stopped screaming like a woman possessed.
Forget that “all creatures are sacred” philosophy. I’m failing Buddhism 101. The mice are sacred when they are cute and I can catch them in a little plastic cup and release them outside in the park. They are not cute when they escape down a hole like the rodents they are. So that night I threw on my coat and drove in the pouring rain to an all-night grocery store, looking for weapons, wondering if there was a 24-hour waiting period and did I need a permit.
There was not a huge selection of rodent eradication products in the store. I ruled out poison because, while I wasn’t happy with the cat at the moment, I didn’t want to poison her in an attempt to get the mice. I thought about the traditional spring-loaded mousetraps. But, yuck, I cringed at the thought of having to dispose of the carcass, pictured the mouse with the trap across its neck, tongue hanging out, eyes in a horrified death stare. I found something new, a less traditional rodent eradication product—glue traps. The package claimed they were very effective, but provided few details on how they actually worked. I imagined that a mouse would get stuck on the trap and disappear, just vaporize. So I bought the glue traps, brought them home, and slid them under the stove next to the hole.
The next morning I thought I heard squeaking under the stove. I stayed very quiet and moved closer. Yes, squeaking, definitely squeaking. The stove had never squeaked before on its own. Now what? I did what any brave woman would do under the circumstances. I went to work. No, not to work taking care of the mouse—I drove to my office to escape.
At work I told Ed the gist of my mouse saga. He said, “You do know how the glue traps work, don’t you?”
I winced and shook my head no, for I was beginning to expect that my theory of mouse vaporization was not scientifically sound.
He grinned wickedly, knowing that he had a tale to tell me that was going to make me squirm. “It gets one paw stuck in the glue. In an attempt to get loose, it gets the other paw stuck. Then it gets its little face stuck in the glue. There’s no hope. It dies slowly from dehydration, stuck in the glue.”
“No,” I whined. “Couldn’t it just have a stroke or go into shock and die quickly?”
“I don’t think so,” he said with an uncharacteristic evil smirk, “I’ve seen it happen.”
I spent the entire day at the office obsessing about the mouse at home under my stove, mired in the glue. And I was going to have to go home and deal with the situation. I called my friend Mike. Knight in shining armor—he has a key to my house—he went there before I got home and disposed of not one, but two mice caught in the glue traps under the stove. Mercifully he didn’t provide any details about the condition of the unfortunate creatures.
So I put two more glue traps under the stove. Friday—no mice. Saturday and Sunday—no mice. Monday morning I heard squeaking. No, it can’t be—maybe the refrigerator motor needs to be oiled. But considering my recent experience I realized that it might be wise to check those glue traps under the stove. I pulled out the drawer, and aimed the flashlight in the corner. No!!!! There was a little gray mouse stuck in the trap. I closed the drawer and paced, considering my options. Mike was nowhere around. So I put on industrial strength work gloves, pulled out the drawer, and dragged out the trap with long-handled pliers, mouse firmly cemented on the trap. I slipped the offending item into a plastic bag, then put the plastic bag in a paper grocery bag. I knew the mouse was still alive and I knew the humane thing to do. So I took the bag out to the cement patio and whacked it hard, three times, with a brick.
Let this be a lesson to the others, if there are others—I have weapons and I will use them. Just leave peacefully and no one will be hurt.