Act I: The Mouse that Launched a Thousand Traps
Our story begins on the morning of August 31, 2015. I am certain of this date because of this Facebook status I made moments after spotting the infamous inaugural mouse.
My mind started racing. How could this happen to me? What were the implications of this intruder? Most importantly, did the mouse see me naked? I immediately hopped onto Google to see what my next course of action should be. I quickly learned that female mice can have up to 10 litters of 14 babies per year! There were no statistics on male mice litters. Was the mouse I saw a lady? I hadn’t taken a good look as I had been raised to be more polite than that. But images of the walls of my bedroom bulging with thousands of baby mice swirled through my head.
I called my landlord that afternoon.
“I saw a mouse this morning in the bathroom.”
“A what?”, my elderly, Filipino landlord asked me. The theme of miscommunication will play heavily throughout this story.
“A mouse. Like, a tiny creature.”
“Oh! A mouse!” He chuckled.
This was not a laughing matter I assure you. However, he agreed to reimburse me for any mouse-trapping expenses.
After a trip to Home Depot, I had in my hand a real-life mouse trap. I couldn’t bear to use the cartoonesque traps with a little wedge of cheese on one end just waiting to SNAP! I opted for a plastic, dome shaped-trapped. The packaging assured me that I would not be able to see any bit of the mouse. You just pick up the whole trap and toss it away like it was yesterday’s garbage.
I placed the trap, baited with Trader Joes Organic Peanut Butter (only the best for our little friend) between the stove and the sink because I thought I had heard suspicious noises from that direction the previous night. I also began noticing tiny droppings around the kitchen. How long had these been here? Do I really live in such squalor that I wouldn’t even notice literal poop on my kitchen counter?
Time begins to tick away. Schmitz, Cristina, Leah and I sit around the kitchen table. They mock me for my vigilant watch of the corner where the trap lay. Eventually my bed calls to me as I am an early to bed, late to rise kind of gal. I lay under my covers, watching Scrubs on my iPad and playing Cookie Jam on my iPhone. And then I hear it.
“Someone better go tell Sarah.”
But I am bursting out of my room before the words have even left Cristina’s mouth. I feel victorious and reassured in humanity’s place at the top of the food chain.
I peek around the side of the stove. There I see the door of the trap has closed, but still a long, thin tail is visible. It’s thrashing frantically. And then…it stops.
I had never taken a life before. It might have only been a mouse, but still, what kind of monster had I become?
I tell the others that I can’t get rid of it. I could still see the tail and I knew if I picked up the trap then I would feel the weight of a small body inside.
Schmitz agrees to get rid of the mouse. Nonchalantly, she picks up the trap and goes to throw it into the large trash can outside. She pauses for moment as she contemplates the contraption in her hand, but then carries on.
As she walks back inside, I thank her for disposing of the mouse.
“No problem,” she says, unaffected. But I swear as she turned around, I saw her wipe a tear from her eye.
The next few days were relatively carefree. I was once again living in my dream home (mouse-free, just as I always dreamed it) with my closest friends. One morning I noticed more droppings on the pantry shelf, but assured myself they were from the deceased mouse and I had just not noticed them until now.
I was putting away my freshly washed clothes as my friends talked loudly in the kitchen. I carried blouses on hangers into the closet when all of sudden I felt something move…. under my foot…furrily.
A mouse darted out of the closet, narrowly missing being squashed by my step and ran out of my bedroom door. I screamed, as I am want to do. I thought my days as a mouse caretaker were over. And I guess you could say they were.
Because that’s when the rats moved in.
Stay tuned for Act II: The Master Rat-teteer (like pupeteer, get it?)