Before my story begins, let me say this: mice do not freak me out. Back when I was a pipsqueak, I used to raise them for science. And I don’t mean for my science lessons, but rather for the much broader definition of science—the intellectual and practical activity encompassing the systematic study of the structure and behavior of the physical and natural world through observation and experiment (thanks, wicky)—by selling them to real, live scientists at auctions. I cleaned the mouse cages, fed them, held them, and got bitten by them, no big deal. (Also, it was a much smaller operation than I’m leading you to believe.)
So see, mice and me are cool.
However, I do not like mice. They stink up my stove, pee and poop everywhere, and are, in general, totally, absolutely, and completely vile.
Live mice, in particular, totally piss me off. As in, at the mere sight of one I will whip off my flip-flop and smack them senseless. I’ve been known to bait them with crackers and trap them in plastic bags and then wail the living daylights out of them in the middle of the night (while living in a storage shed in Nicaragua).
(Also in Nicaragua, I was awakened one night by a mama rat—RAT!—pawing through my hair. I had fed her pack of nekkid babies to a dog and she had come back to haunt me to pieces, I guess.)
Lately, our phantom mouse, for we do indeed have a phantom mouse, has made several appearances. One night I was sitting on the floor counting money, wearing a bathrobe and not much more, when the little gray demon shot across the rug in my general direction (remember, I was only wearing a robe) and then veered off under the sofa.
If that mouse had chosen to dive under the terry cloth tent—eeeeee! Makes me tingle all over just to think of it.
Another time it appeared when I was just stepping out of the shower. I heard John shrieking downstairs so I quickly wrapped a towel around me and ran to save him. (Why do mice always catch me half dressed? What’s up with that?) We, and a not-yet-sleepy Baby Bandaids Nickel, barricaded off the shoe room in an effort to catch the poor trapped rodent and then, neck hairs a-raising, heavy shoes gripped tightly in our hands, we gingerly slid boxes and tins aside until—EEK!—the mouse streaked out of a corner, crashed into the barrier, leaped into the air and scurried off into another corner, John and I, thunking and yelling all the while and never once hitting the darn thing.
The second time the mouse made a run for it, John knocked down the barrier in his effort to get the mouse, and the little bugger zipped through my legs on its way to the washing machine. I spun around, walloping frantically, and though I thought my slipper once made contact with something soft, it got away.
Or so we thought.
This morning I noticed that it was kind of stinky over by my desk. I poked around a little but nothing was to be found.
As the stench grew stronger, it slowly dawned on me that it could only be one thing—a dead mouse. (So I did whack the thing after all! Hooray!)
With the smell intensifying by the second, I was left with no choice but to pull the fridge out from the wall.
With each tug on the fridge, the smell worsened, and when I saw wet spots on the tile floor I realized the dead mouse was indeed stuck underneath and was—how to put this delicately?—smearing every time I gave a tug.
I promptly called it quits and rang up my knight in muddy work boots.
“Are you serious?” he said. “You really want me to come home for this?”
“Um, yeah,” I whimpered. “It’s really bad. We can’t stay in the house. Please?”
And then, for extra pathetic points, “I feel like I’m going to throw up.”
So home he came to do the dirty deed.
He didn’t much complain about the stench—he’s way too tough for that—and instead got right to work jacking up the fridge on wooden blocks and dropping to his knees to investigate in his trademark, no-nonsense manner.
But when he went to scoop up the rotting mouse in a wad of newspapers,
he dry-heaved loudly and repeatedly, much to my raucous amusement.
A few minutes with the vacuum and a bucket of bleach water later, the job was done and my knight hopped into his white pick-up, put on his stunner shades, and took his leave.
So, to summarize:
1. I was kidding you when I said that mice and me are cool. I don’t know why I said that. In reality, mice give me the shiver-iver-ivers.
2. It’s really clean under my fridge right now.
This same time, years previous: strawberry ideas