Of Mouse and Man

Artwork by Peter Foldes (Source)

There’s a mouse in my house. I know because it leaves little poos by the stovetop. I don’t like the mouse. Because of the little poos. If it weren’t for the little poos I wouldn’t mind if it came and went as it pleased. If it took refuge at the end of a long day. If it scampered in to escape the clutches of a cat. Or heavy rain. Or even only because sometimes outside is too much for the mouse, and inside is where it wants to be. But the poos are disgusting. Strewn indiscriminately, like scattered tic-tacs. Of course nothing could be further from a pellet meant to freshen one’s breath. But mouse poo is uncanny like that. Always in the kitchen. Similar in size and colour to black currents or chocolate sprinkles. Similar enough at least to be in poor taste. Like a practical joke in a vulgar gift shop, next to the fart bombs and plastic flies. Like a spoiled grape. I don’t like the mouse, not because I’m afraid its poo will spoil my food, but because I feel jilted by the mirage. And for that, I have set a trap.

The trap was $4.79 for a pack of two, from the hardware store. The first trap I bought was half the price, from the grocery store. The grocery store was out of the more expensive traps. I set the cheap trap with a small piece of bread rolled in peanut butter, and left it overnight on the stovetop where I found the poos. In the morning there was no bread, and no mouse. I figured the bread was too easy for the mouse to remove, so I re-baited the trap, this time with only peanut butter. But that night the trap was empty again. The game was afoot. I set the trap with cheese, like in the movies. And I imagined the mouse thwarting my efforts, like in the movies. And the next day the cheese was gone. Like in the movies. I cursed the trap for being a cheap piece of plastic squeezed in some foreign factory by the million, designed by an algorithm to reap money from poor people with mice in their houses, and keep the mice fed. I drove to the hardware store, and bought the more expensive, pre-baited trap. This time I read the instructions. They said to set the trap against the wall, where the mouse is likely to run. Not where it poos. Half an hour later the trap cracked into life. I saw it happen. The mouse struggled for ten seconds before it died.

It’s not that I miss the mouse. But I feel forlorn. I have another trap for when it comes back. It always does. The time before this on the trap woke me in the middle of the night. I could hear the mouse squealing. Frozen, I waited for quiet. I thought about going back to sleep. But it seemed wrong to leave a dead body unburied. A body for which I was responsible. It seemed unkind. Eventually I walked to the kitchen and turned on the light. The mouse was dead. I put its body in a plastic bag, which I tied, and threw in the bin outside.

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Short stories and essays. Published irregularly.

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Daniel Silver

Daniel Silver

Short stories and essays. Published irregularly.

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