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13 April 2014 @ 01:29 pm
LJ Idol Season Nine: "Don't Try This At Home"  
Don't Try This At Home
lj idol season nine | week five | 995 words
Build a better mousetrap


You have to understand, I didn't start this. I was just minding my own business, like any other Joe, and then I woke up one morning to what looked like a trail of chocolate sprinkles across the kitchen counter. Except that we don't even buy that kind of stuff.

It was only the beginning.

I got down on the floor, looked behind the stove and around the baseboards. I didn't see a darn thing, but evidence doesn't lie. After I bleached the hell out of those counters, I went to the hardware store.

Poisons. Old-fashioned traps, like something out of a cartoon. Humane-release devices, all kinds of crap—there was a whole industry behind my problem. My wife, Marge, was always going on about toxic chemicals, so I bypassed the poisons and went for the basic spring-loaded killing machine. Yankee ingenuity, right? They were still around, so I figured they must actually work. I bought four of them.

I went home and got to work. I put cheese on them—two of the traps snapped back and almost got my fingers, and a piece of cheese wound up in the overhead light fixture. Nice. I fixed the traps up again, and slipped one under the fridge and another behind the edge of the stove, with the two others going behind a living room bookcase and in the corner next to the hall bathroom toilet. Not exactly classy, but I hid them more for fear of walking into them barefoot than worrying about how they looked.

The next morning, the traps were all empty—completely empty! Those damn mice found a way to get at the cheese without setting anything off. Fine. The guy at the store had mentioned using peanut butter. That would probably be harder for the mice to steal. I decided to give that a shot.

Would you believe that the smartest mice in the world all live at my house? When I checked the traps the next day, most of the peanut butter was gone but the traps themselves were rodent-free. There were just a few grains of mouse droppings left behind to show the bait had been visited.

Grrrrr. The Internet led me to try another scheme, involving putting bait in the bottom of a bucket and leaning a one-way ramp up against the outside. I wasn't sure what I'd do with the mice once I caught them, but it was worth a try.

It was also useless. Maybe I'd overfed the mice by then, but the two buckets I put out only attracted ants. Marge was due back from her sister's in two days—she'd kill me if she came home to insects swarming all over the house. I went to a different hardware store, hoping for some new ideas.

The Rodent Rejectortm promised many things, but the key ones were that it needed no bait and that its ultrasonic audio waves would cause mice to flee from the house on their own. No ants, no dead bodies to clean up later, no smell from anything that might die without being discovered. It was exactly what I needed.

I brought two of them home, one for the kitchen and one for the living room. Would that be enough? I wasn't sure how the sound was supposed to force the little monsters out, as opposed to driving them into other parts of the house, but whatever. Ideally, they'd get miserable enough to leave.

It was pitch dark when I woke up to noises coming from the wall next to the bed. It wasn't mad scrambling toward some unknown exit— I might have expected that. Instead, it was the rhythmic sound of gnawing. Seriously, gnawing. What the hell was there to eat in the walls, besides wood and plaster? Worse yet, what if the damn creatures broke through into the bedroom?

No way in hell was I going to have mice streaming over the bed while I slept. I went out to the living room, shutting the bedroom door behind me. I'd be safer on the couch.

I went into the kitchen for a glass of water, since I was already up. As soon as I opened the cupboard, a mouse jumped out of it—right at my face. Sonofabitch! I jumped back, and the thing landed on the edge of the counter and started scrambling for the stove. That nasty little attack-vermin wasn't getting away that easily! I picked up a chair and swung it down over and over again, but the mouse darted around in circles, just out of range. It made a break for the living room, and I chased after it, nearly getting it with the chair as it slipped through a small hole near the edge of a baseboard heating vent. God, the whole thing was disgusting.

I leaned a huge book up against the hole, which would do nothing to disguise the dent and huge scrape on the wall but might keep the mouse in. I watched for a couple of minutes, but nothing crept back out again. Back in the kitchen, the stove was pretty messed up, and God knew what else might be on the loose.

When Marge came back the next morning, I was out in the garage, sleeping in the car.

Marge didn't divorce me over the living room walls or the state of the kitchen, thank God. She wasn't happy, but hey—we've been married a long time, things don't always go smoothly. It wasn't like I'd developed a midlife crisis and run off with a twenty-year-old.

We have a new solution to our mouse problem now, Marge's idea. I guess I can live with it, though we're not just talking about the kitchen or a corner of the bathroom. It's affected the whole house, every room, every corner. Even the damn sofa's involved, you know?

But I guess whatever works, you call it good.

Me? I call him, "Mittens."


If you enjoyed this story, you can vote for it along with many other fine entries here.

Desireex_disturbed_x on April 13th, 2014 08:49 pm (UTC)
I absolutely love the humor here. :D

Me? I call him, "Mittens."

That has to be my favorite line.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphors: heh-hehhalfshellvenus on April 13th, 2014 09:05 pm (UTC)
Thank you!

Boy, if only more of this were _entirely_ nonfiction. The true parts... *shudder*

Edited at 2014-04-13 09:05 pm (UTC)
(no subject) - x_disturbed_x on April 13th, 2014 09:13 pm (UTC) (Expand)
(no subject) - halfshellvenus on April 13th, 2014 09:22 pm (UTC) (Expand)
Maerhysmaerhys on April 13th, 2014 09:17 pm (UTC)
I love the rhythm and cadence the sentences make! And the last line is perfect. Well done!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 13th, 2014 09:24 pm (UTC)
Thank you! It's funny how a _really_ old-fashioned remedy is often the best one. :D
SeaGaljocosa on April 13th, 2014 09:40 pm (UTC)
This was fantastic! And loved the ending. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 13th, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
Thank you so much! I'm glad you enjoyed it. :D Boy, we're going to feel the effects of losing our personal mouser to patrol the yard, I just know it.
solstice_singer on April 14th, 2014 12:35 am (UTC)
Yay for the kitty cat. They are the best mouse traps around. (Grin)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2014 01:46 am (UTC)
Non-toxic, too! I used to think they detected mice by movement and smell, but apparently it's mostly by sound. Mice make a lot of noise in a frequency range cats hear but we don't.

Edited at 2014-04-14 01:46 am (UTC)
Kellykajel on April 14th, 2014 02:20 am (UTC)
lol Love the last line. We had a run in with a few of pesky critters two years ago. Daring little bastards. Sad to say, the dog was useless. ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2014 05:46 am (UTC)
Oh, mice are insidious. Once they get into the walls, you just want to tear your hair out.

Our Whale was a good mouser. Putting him out at night was the only thing that cut down on the in-walls problem at our house. Poisons in the eaves and vents? Useless!

cindytsuki_no_bara on April 14th, 2014 02:28 am (UTC)
this cracked me up. the last line is priceless.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 14th, 2014 05:46 am (UTC)
Hee! I'm glad you liked it. :D
shimmerdreamshimmerdream on April 14th, 2014 11:38 pm (UTC)
Ooh, the scenario in the story is my worst nightmare. Gnawing in the walls... *shudder*.

I loved the last line though!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 15th, 2014 04:22 am (UTC)
It's awful-- lathe and plaster is pretty stiff, and yet, they will still do it. For hours. :(

Glad you enjoyed the story!
Bridget Ilene Delaneykagomeshuko on April 15th, 2014 04:59 am (UTC)
It is research paper time. I'd honestly like to leave a better comment, but I at least wanted to let you know that I've been here to read your entry!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 15th, 2014 05:52 am (UTC)
Thank you! I saw your note about that in the Green Room, and the reading can just kill you-- especially if there is other reading/homework you have to be doing!
Jemima Paulerjem0000000 on April 15th, 2014 06:48 am (UTC)
Yay Mittens! That's my favorite kind of mousetrap, right there. :)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 15th, 2014 06:59 am (UTC)
Mine, too! Oddly enough, when they work... they are also the most effective. There's a whole underground Bodega Cat movement of secret cats in street shops, keeping the vermin away.
Doodle Bugminikin on April 16th, 2014 12:39 am (UTC)
nicely done
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2014 01:12 am (UTC)
Thank you! (sorry, my husband was still logged in when I first replied)
Es'kaeska818 on April 16th, 2014 02:40 pm (UTC)
haha, very cute, and semi-creepy - you know, because the idea of mice skittering over me in my sleep is creepy >.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2014 05:26 pm (UTC)
I think that would be incredibly creepy (and gross), and there's always that fear that if they got into the walls, what's to say they won't get out?
John Louis: drunk catgrail76 on April 16th, 2014 03:41 pm (UTC)
I solved this with a glue trap. You've never lived until you try to get a glue trap off of a Dachshund's paw.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2014 05:27 pm (UTC)
I had never heard of glue traps before other people mentioned them, and what do you do with the trapped mouse? I'm assuming it hasn't died. Ugh.

Plus, the side-effects of most traps on any pets you might have is a problem of its own!
(no subject) - grail76 on April 16th, 2014 07:41 pm (UTC) (Expand)
rayasorayaso on April 16th, 2014 07:26 pm (UTC)
The best solution was the most mobile one. Putting the Whale in charge of the problem worked wonders.
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2014 11:32 pm (UTC)
The Whale was a natural. I sure hope things don't go haywire now that he's gone...
Laura, aka "Ro Arwen": Corny Cat NomNomroina_arwen on April 16th, 2014 09:44 pm (UTC)
You can't beat a good ol' cat when it comes to mice!
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2014 11:33 pm (UTC)
They are the best, and also least dangerous/toxic solution!

(sorry, once again my husband forgot to log out of our shared computer). :O
A Karmic Sandbox: Candid Teasekarmasoup on April 16th, 2014 10:45 pm (UTC)
Holy cow, there were so many squeals of delight here! From the cheese in the overhead light fixture, to sleeping in the car. You've fabulously captured the voice of this character. (Any chance he's mildly reminiscent of someone you know quite personally? ;)
The Coalition For Disturbing Metaphorshalfshellvenus on April 16th, 2014 11:35 pm (UTC)
:D Fortunately, HalfshellHusband is much more competent than the narrator here. Except for leaving himself logged into my computer (we're travelling), so that I keep posting replies as him. D'OH!)

This character is really pretty smart, but you know... all of those other traps and methods really have their drawbacks! He was just unlucky enough to find all of them.

I've always been petrified at the idea of trying to work a springloaded trap. I just know my hands would slip, and it would get my fingers instead...