The Better Mousetrap

About two months ago I walked into my kitchen one night, turned on the light, and was surprised to see a mouse scurrying along the counter backsplash and ducking into the range on the stove. This was the first appearance of the Big Brown One (BBO).

In truth, the BBO wasn’t that big. He was on the smaller side of your average mouse. I let his initial appearance slide — partly because I was hoping that he would divide his time between the three apartments in the building, and I wouldn’t see that much of him. I also didn’t want to upset Sarah, my roommate and ex-girlfriend. From time to time, I would see the BBO scurrying through the kitchen, or along the hallway. Once, I thought I heard a rustling in my office trash, and when I went to check he made a heroic leap a foot and a half into the air, and ran off.

The moment of decision came one night when I entered the kitchen and saw the BBO ducking into the oven, followed closely by a Little Grey One (LGO). He was breeding. It was bad enough that he was living off my spoils: I wasn’t going to allow him to fuck in my apartment. I don’t even fuck in my apartment.

As expected, when I told Sarah about the mice, she initially refused to allow me to get traps. Even after she saw the mice herself, she still imagined them as charming animation, singing duets with their scruffy cat companions and emigrating to the United States to find cheese and freedom. I tried to impress on her that mice spread disease. We could get the plague, for Chrissake. She insisted on live traps. I told her she would have to pay for them.

It wasn’t until the day before Thanksgiving, when I cleaned off the countertops while baking pies and showed her all the mouse shit hidden behind the jars and microwave, that she consented to let me kill the bastards. They loved the shit behind the microwave. Something about microwaves just screams “Shit behind me!” to mice.

I bought four traps. They were the conventional types, made of wood with a metal spring. Baited with peanut butter, I cleaned the kitchen of all food, and laid them on the counter. Within a day they were licked clean. I tried new configurations. They were licked clean. I tried weighting the springs. They were licked clean. The mice licked a half jar of peanut butter off this traps over the course of a week. Finally, I settled on a configuration where the mice would have to walk over three traps to get to the trap with peanut butter. It worked in twenty minutes.

The trap went off when I was in my bedroom, and I heard it from down the hall. Unfortunately, it hadn’t worked as advertised. When I went into the kitchen, the mouse was not in the trap. Instead, he was in the middle of the kitchen floor, eight feet away from the traps: and he wasn’t dead. He had been thrown by the spring, and clearly sustained some level of brain damage. It was my unfortunate experience to have to watch it as it kicked its legs repeatedly, spasmed, and died. It was the Little Grey One.

While the experience was not a pleasant one, I nevertheless set the traps back up and waited to catch the Big Brown One. The traps were licked clean for another week. The BBO was smart. Also, he spawned again. I saw him with another LGO one night.

Three days ago, I got feed up. I hid in the dining room, about fifteen feet away from the oven, and stood absolutely still for half an hour. I waited; this was research. Patience was rewarded when they mice came out and started fucking around on the stove. The brown one, and TWO little grey ones. Three fucking mice. Store bought traps were no longer going to cut it. I was forced to resort to my Boy Scout training, and knowledge of cartoons. I cleared the counter top, and set up a briefcase. I placed peanut butter, bread, and raisins in the briefcase. I taped a weight to the top, and propped it open with a magic marker. I tied a twenty-foot string to the marker, and stood in the dining room with the other end of the string. I waited.

I waited until they came out. One of the LGOs crawled in, and I sprung the trap. You’d better fucking believe that I got him. I dumped him off the back balcony. After that, I think they sensed my presence and didn’t come out. To counter this, I fed the string around the corner and down the hallway. Every hour or so, I would walk to the kitchen and pull the string, shutting the briefcase. Of four times I pull it, I got mice three times. Two little grey ones, and the big brown one — he was last.

There was only one fatality. One of the LGOs got caught in the shutting lid. All in all, though, I caught three mice in a few hours, using the most primitive device imaginable, where the more sophisticated method had repeatedly failed.

I was feeling pretty good yesterday when I walked into the kitchen and saw two more little grey mice running along the backsplash and ducking into the oven. I’ve spent the last two days trying to trap them. The briefcase has stopped working. They’re learning.

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