It's a quiet Friday evening. I'm messing on the computer. Sweetie is in the back reading. He casually walks through the room to tell me a story about how Girl Cat has been in the bathroom staring into a corner. Sitting as still as only a cat on the prowl can.
Me: (Thinking to myself) I wonder if she's sick.
Sweetie: She's cornered a mouse. I saw it run under the door.
Me: Good God. Where is it now?
Sweetie: I don't know.
Me: (Jumping up and heading to the bedroom for a first hand look) You don't know? How the hell can you not know?
Two big people and 2 small cats begin the search. The medium-sized dog with the blood of hounds running through her veins; the dog who walks around the block with her nose to the ground as if looking for kidnapped child; the dog, who can sleep through anything until the car keys tinkle, slumbered.
Sweetie: (Turning his chair upside down) Not here.
Me: (Opening the closet door. )Not here, either.
I prayed that the creature who had, in my mind, become the size of a monster in a Japanese B movie, had not found the pile clothes I'm donating to the Goodwill. For a cold and scared mouse it could his Shangri La.
Me: What are you going to do about it?
Sweetie: What can I do? I'm going to bed?
Me: (Turning over the chair again, noticing how much dust has accumulated in the springs. Who knew?) Going to bed? How can you go to bed when there's a mouse loose in the house? I raise my voice a little to make me sound more concerned than Dr. Seuss.
Sweetie: Watch me. The mouse will stay on the floor.
Me: (Thinking that's the dumbest thing I've ever heard. What? There's a sign on the bed that says "no mice on the bed?) I'm going to a motel.
Sweetie lies down, picks up his book, land looks for all the world like he could care less about a mouse in the house. I suggest to the cats that they hop on Pop.
Me: (Noticing Girl Cat is in the pounce position, staring into the corner) Hmmm.
Smelling victory I get down on my knees and peer under the table and see lots more dust - no mouse.
Sweetie: (Watching the cat watch the corner.) Watch this.
Faster than David Copperfield making the Grand Canyon disappear he moves the table I just looked under. No mouse.
Sweetie: Get boy cat.
Me: I'm going to get Maizey, Johnson's mouse sniffer outer.
After fruitless search and feeling like a dumb woman on a Lifetime Movie where the killer hides in the most obvious place, like under the bed or behind the bathroom door, I decide to give up and go to bed. I've got two cats, a dog and my Sweetie to protect me. Right? I enter the bathroom with trepidation. I look behind me in the mirror as I brush my teeth expecting to see Mousezilla ready to strike. I prepare to tinkle. Still sitting I stretch my leg as far as it will go and move the basket of towels out from the corner with my big toe. There it is. A creepy 12 inch long rodent tail attached to a giant gray mouse trying to look like a white towel. Okay, it was only about 3 inches and the towel did have a needs-some-bleach-gray tinge to it, but you know how that goes. Size is in the eye of the beholder. I kick the basket back in place before the mouse discovers he's been discovered.
Me: (Running in circles like the cat) I found it.
Me: Behind the basket of towels. Now what?
Sweetie: (Heading for the garage) We find something to kill it with?
Sweetie: (Returning with a large plastic container) We'll put this over him.
Me: Then what?
Sweetie: We find something to kill it with?
Me: (Looking at the cute little mouse shivering from fear) He looks just like Stuart Little.
Me: (Following Sweetie into the garage where he's deciding on which garden spray - ants, roaches, or aphids - to use as his weapon.) Look how cute he is. You can't kill him.
Sweetie: (Getting a little perturbed with my change of heart) Well what do you want me to do?
Me: I don't know. You're the man. You know what to do.
While I wring my hands and consider giving Stuart a cheese snack and maybe a sip of tea, Sweetie lies back down on the bed. He waits to see whether I'm going to sign Stuart's death warrant or pardon his cute little ass. I notice his chest (Sweetie's, not Stuart's) is a little puffed out. Trapping is a man thing. Sweetie looks for all the world like a cave man who just tricked a saber-tooth tiger into walking on the grass that covered the hole it fell into.
Me: (Pulling off my pajamas and getting re-dressed) I'm going to Wal-Mart. They're sure to have some humane way of house mouse eradication.
Sweetie: (Looking at me like I've lost my mind) I'll go.
Me: No. I said I'd go. I'm going.
Me: (Feeling pissed off because if though I said I'd go we both know there's something wrong with the man lying on the bed and the woman getting dressed to go out at midnight to get poison to kill a tiny little mouse, who, if given a reprieve will run and tell all his mouse friends about his near death experience.) I'm already dressed. You stay here and make sure the mouse doesn't get away. What do we need, a 45? a Glock?
I rattle the keys and the dog awakens. Having slept through the whole search process she's ready to roll. She hops in the back seat ready for adventure. I get to the first stop sign half a block away. The dog is sound asleep.
First stop: Walgreens. Aisle 12. Dog bones. Cat food. Fly traps. Fire Ant spray. Down on the bottom shelf where I have to get on my knees to see is a veritable cornucopia of rodent extermination products. I buy one of each. Every box mentions something about bait -cheese or peanut butter. I see no gentle sleep-inducing bait with which to lace said cheese. Like Solomon I've decided putting the mouse into a peaceful dream state before he passes over into mouse heaven is the most humane form of execution.
Not sure I have what I need, I head to Wal-Mart for re-enforcements. As an aside, Wal-Mart is a world unto itself after midnight, but there are only two cashiers on duty. I find the De-Con section. There are all kinds of the traps. Old fashioned mouse traps like Tom might have used to catch Jerry. Bait filled mouse igloos. Plastic pincher traps that lure the mouse in then snap shut on the unsuspecting varmint. I buy the round traps with an itsy bitsy hole where the mouse crawls in for a midnight snack. It's like the mouse version of the Hotel California. He crawls in but can't crawl out.
Once home, I bait the trap with aged New York cheddar cheese. I carry it to the bathroom where the mouse continues to shiver. I can't bring myself to offer a stay of execution because I do not want to relive this night. I call upon the spirits of all the butcher knife wielding women who have gone before me. I slip the trap under the edge of the box and offer a prayer for the dead. One o'clock p.m. It's time to crawl into my own bed.
Scritch. Scritch. Scritch.
I didn't expect to I hear the mouse trying to squeeze into the hole like me trying to squeeze into a pair of control top panty hose. Maybe I'm hearing the ghosts of past mice rattling the trap to haunt me. It's working. I am haunted. Offering poison to a mouse is one thing. Listening to his death throes is another.
Scritch. Scritch. I'm lulled into I fall fitful sleep. Sweetie rolls over. The cat remains on guard.
I awake before dawn to go vote. My brain instantly forgets about elephants and donkeys and goes right to what I hope is a dead mouse behind the bathroom door. I'm not sure I'm up to this - the election or the mouse. I use the front bathroom.
Sweetie: (Before an eye-opening cup of coffee) I think he's dead. He hasn't moved.
Me: (Afraid to look) Of course he hasn't moved. He's trying to trick us. He won't move until we take the box off him. Then he'll run for the chair and hide out in the dusty springs.
Sweetie: No, I think he's dead.
Me: (Peeking around the corner) Yeh, he looks pretty dead. Only he's supposed to be inside that trap, not dead on my bathroom floor.
Later when I'm not looking Sweetie gets rid of the body. All traces of my house mouse are gone.
Me: Where did you put it?
Sweetie: In the bushes.
Me: Good God! What if one of the dog finds it.
Sweetie: I put it out there as a warning to all the other mice who might want to get inside where it's warm.
Me: (Hands on hips. Voice an octave too high. Not sounding grateful at all) Don't leave it in the bushes.
Sweetie: (Tired of the whole mouse caper) Alright. Alright.
Like the gentle man I know he is, Sweetie grabs a shovel and gives Stuart a proper burial.
Sweetie: Dear God, I hope you like mice. There may be a lot more coming your way.
Sweetie: I'm going back to bed.
Me: Me too.