I am a wreck.
I am not Bobby Burns, writing an ode despairing man’s cruel dominion over nature. Nope, I want the mouses dead. Dead. Dead. Stiff, widowed, toes up. I want patricide, matricide, infanticide, generations of you wriggling, poohing, dirty things off the mortal cool. Anything short of moribund or better post mortem is not enough.
Somewhere in the universe if there is energy or spirit left lingering from the living soul that was my mother Pat, she is laughing loud and long at my misery. It’s a cosmic joke begun decades ago as she cursed my very soul for her four-legged mini tormentors.
In New England, mouse are a different beast, methinks. In the deep cold of winter, a field mouse might poke its nose into your home and sojourn there in the warmth and light with food at hand. It’s Club Med for sure for mice in February.
Quickly after discovery, you can box up your food, set a few traps, and the mouse Biarritz the murine spa is shut down for good. All guests leave through the same exit, a broken neck from one late snack at the mousetrap buffet. The episode ends and after a little cleaning, it’s a forgotten nuisance.
Periodically, not every winter but some, Pat’s house was host to a field mouse or to coming in from the cold. They scared the ever-;pvomg shit out of her.
There were only two scenarios in my life where I can remember my mother channeling olympic speed. The first was actually kind of wonderfully heroic. She had at one time in her life passed the Red Cross rescue swimming certifications, and summers at the beach she’d sit in the sandchair circle with the other mothers. But as soon as a kid seemed to have drifted out deep toward actual danger, she’d sprint to the water’s edge ready for action.
The second scenario is the point of these words. Faced with a small rodent in her home, she could leap to a chair or countertop with an NBA-worthy vertical or run from the room in a burst of speed. Arguably, it was the most helpless and weak that she had ever seemed to me. Cowed by a three-inch flash of gray fur, squeezing under the counter.
When she lived alone, Pat could steel herself to buy, bait and set traps. But there was no way in hell she’d go near the trap again, lest it had successfully fallen a victim. Even a dead mouse was too much to bear.
She’d call me insistently to come and empty the traps.
One day, I did my daughterly duty and came by to empty her mouse traps. I was given a bag, a shovel and no furhter instructions. When the very dead mouse was in the bag, which was then closed and rolled down on the top, thoroughly sealed, I went to ask my dear mother what was next.
The bag dangled in my hand, and she Usain Bolted from the room. She ran to the bathroom and in one move, she jumped on the toilet and slammed the door. Through the closed door she screamed. Then she screamed at me, Hysterically, she accused me of tormenting her and exercising acts of extreme cruelty. In her version of the story, I was throwing multiple dead mice at her as she defenselessly cried for help.
It was then that she cursed me. She accused me of bringing the mouse with me solely to hurt her.
So here I am today. The California mice have me beat. They aren’t Bobby Burns’ mouse shivering I the track of his plough. They aren’t New England field mice looking for respite from cruel winter weather. They are bad roommates who move in without lease or notice and shit on the floor.
I’m doing everything to clean up. I have spent three days in a homemade hazmat suit of long sleeves coupled with rubber gloves and a bandana pulling out every corner and nook vacuuming up mountains of pellets of pooh. I’ve loaded the washing machine with loads of pillows, blankets, clothes, napkins, towels, everything that may have been touched by their creepy, dirty paws.
A professional wildlife eradicator guy has set traps and plugged some holes. He’s taped up a duct that was likely a mouse highway to our inside from the outside. He’s toured our garage, our yard and crawled the full length and breadth of our crawlspace under the house leaving bait and traps.
We are having our carpets cleaned and getting help overturning every remaining place where they might have been.
The haD been An unfortunate moment in which we uncovered a nest that had me screaming horror film shrieks. But mostly I’ve been maintaining. Head down, I’ve been doing what needs to get done.
Until tonight. I found my favorite measuring cup and glass bowls sprinkled with feces. As I rinsed and threw them into the dishwasher I gagged and began to cry, completely undone.
I just want them gone. I want this over. I want everything to be clean again. I want the anxiety as I peek around the corners of the room as I type this entry to subside.
And I wish my mother was here, because I am sure she wouldn’t stop gleefully laughing at my rodent driven madness.