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."
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