Have you ever heard a mouse scream for hours?
Of course, by “awesome,” I mean “completely horrible and makes you wonder why you ever opted for the Glue Trap Method of rodent capture, which seemed like a good idea at the time but now you can’t remember why, as it is in fact absolutely disastrous.”
I discovered I had mice when the cat’s food bag sported holes in its sides. Very shortly afterward, other signs of their presence started showing up in such fine places as my pots and pans.
One Saturday, I arrived home from a late night out and wondered why the cat didn’t do her usual “I’m Really A Dog” routine, waiting for me at the door and yelling wildly as I approached. I found her curled up on the bathroom floor. “What are you doing?” I asked her. “You never hang out in here.”
(This was the beginning of an unsettling but brief period of talking to the cat while she looked at me like, “Um, I don’t speak English, you freak.”)
I looked down and saw her little white toy mouse caught between her paws. The cat looked up at me sort of sadly, meowed quietly, patted the little mouse, and looked up at me again, as if to say, “Why won’t it play with me?”
Then it moved.
Death twitch, I think.
And I completely. Freaked. Out.
I covered my mouth, lest my neighbors hear my 2am screaming and think I was being murdered in my bed. I spun around, trying to find something I could put this creature in. I remembered that when I was a toddler, my mother had killed mice in our house by scooping them into a shoebox, throwing a rock in it, clapping the lid on and shaking the thing.
Yeah, probably not PETA’s favorite method, but these were the ’70s. Everything was harsh in the ’70s.
As fate and poor housekeeping would have it, there was a shoebox just steps away, so I grabbed it and somehow got the little mouse in there. I don’t remember how. I think I’ve blocked it out. I took it outside and flung it into the trees. All I could think was, “It’s dead, she killed it, it’s dead, did she bite it? I don’t want to check it for teeth marks, do I have to take her to the vet now? What if it had the plague?”
I knew I had to do something, because this little one probably had friends and family. I couldn’t stomach the idea of hearing the old-fashioned traps snap, though. I don’t know why, I really don’t, but for some reason I thought glue traps would be the better way to go.
Way. Wrong. Answer.
Sitting on my couch one night, I heard this God-awful screeching coming from my kitchen and realized that a mouse had gotten stuck in the trap I’d put behind the cat’s food bag in the cabinet.
Ohhhhh, noooooooooooo, I thought. They SCREAM?!
They do. But only for a few hours. It was like the lambs in Jodie Foster’s head.
I called Brad. “Come over and get this mouse out of my cabinet,” I begged, allowing myself to be really quite girly, which he doesn’t like, but in need of him to help me, which he does like.
“What?! No!” he replied, not at all heroically, from his place across the street. “You do it!”
“I can’t!” I whined. “I can’t do it!”
“Well I’m not doing it!” he replied, refusing to don his shining armor and mount his white horse. (This was during the phase in which Brad and I were considering being more than friends. I was giving him a serious opportunity to score some points. He didn’t care.)
I couldn’t deal with the dead mouse. So I ignored it. For days. Somehow I managed to take the cat’s food bag out of the cabinet several times over the course of those days and never once look while I was doing it, so I never did see the dead mouse in the glue trap behind it.
Finally, about five days after the thing screamed til its little vocal cords were shot, I worked up the courage to dispose of it. I found another shoebox. I opened the cabinet, careful to stay behind it so I didn’t have to look inside. I took the cat food bag out, turned the box upside-down and clapped it down over where the mouse would be. Then I moved around the cabinet door, lined the lid of the box up flush with the bottom of the cabinet and sllooowwwllly dragged the box and mouse until it dropped onto the lid.
Ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew ew…
It was heavy. It was not a small mouse, I sensed. This was Mama Mouse.
I think I took it out to the Dumpster. I’m pretty sure I ran.
A few weeks later, on Thanksgiving morning, I awoke to the sound of something squeaking and something sliding across the linoleum kitchen floor. Knowing what I was about to find, I padded out to the kitchen.
The cat was playing with a little field mouse, stuck in a trap but alive, like it was the puck in an air hockey game. She slid it this way… weeeeeee! And that way… wooooooo!
I actually felt bad for this little guy. He was brown and white and kind of cute, with his little head sticking out of one end of the trap, and the cat thought he was a wonderful toy. Still bleary-eyed, I didn’t have the energy for disgust. I merely got a shopping bag and a broom, swept him into the bag and escorted him out to the Dumpster. Sorry little guy. I don’t want you to come back inside. Even if it is a holiday.
All was quiet for awhile. Then one night around 11pm, I was washing my hands at the bathroom sink when I thought I heard a little squeak. Like Steve Martin in a Pink Panther parody, I stiffened, then leaaannnned out the doorway.
The cat sat there. Looking at me.
“What?” she seemed to say.
“What?” I said back.
She sat. “I don’t speak English, you freak.”
I finished washing my hands and looked at her again.
EEEEEEEKKKKKKK! Mouse in her mouth! In. Her. MOUTH!
I sort of shriek-groaned, and the cat did the unthinkable. She dropped the mouse. Another shriek-groan, something like “Nnnneeeeuuuggghhh!” The mouse scampered away and the cat, finding my language confusing, looked at me and then took off after the mouse, which was a dark thing – not white, not brown. She pounced and caught it beneath her paws. The mouse froze. I was trying to find something to catch it with, while keeping an eye on the animal scene. The mouse stayed still for so long, the cat eventually lifted a paw, slowly.
“NO!” I yelled.
The mouse shot away. The cat looked at me.
“GET IT!” I yelled.
She pounced again, but the mouse eluded capture. I found a mini-cooler– the kind with the flip-top lid. It was all I could grab. “GET IT!” I yelled again.
The phone rang.
For reasons passing all understanding, I stopped, picked it up off the table, and answered it.
My sister wanted to know what was up. I told her. She burst out laughing. “Like, right now?” she asked. “You’re chasing it now?”
“Yes!” I replied, breathlessly. “I gotta go!”
“Well, yeah,” she said. I hung up.
I turned to find the cat with the mouse in her mouth once again, looking at me with bright eyes like, “I got it! I got it! …NOW WHAT?!”
“Ooh!” I cried, holding out the mini-cooler and gesturing. “Put it in here! Put it in here!”
The cat stared at my finger. Excitedly.
“In here!” I shouted, pointing. “IN. HERE.”
Still staring at my finger. With focus.
How do you get a cat to put a mouse in a box?! I wondered frantically.
And then the mouse was gone again, out of her mouth.
All this was happening in front of my sliding glass door, the blinds to which were open. At some point I became fully aware that anyone outside could watch this scene unfolding with hilarity, like a cartoon. Tiny mouse runs by, followed by black cat, followed by crazed lady holding mini-cooler out in front of her, all running in measured steps. They run by heading one way…
… and then back the other way…
…Here they come again…
Then, suddenly, the mouse changed direction. Zoom! It darted left, finding the potted fake tree.
What the $%^! Mice can jump?!
It leapt up onto the rim of the wicker basket the tree sat in and perched there, its beady black eyes staring at me. It might as well have stuck its tongue out, put its thumbs (?) in its ears and wiggled its fingers at me.
The cat had lost its prey and pitched a nutty. For the only time in 12 years, I saw her chase her tail. Around and around and around.
Oh, for crying out loud. Really?!
I picked up the cat. “There!” I told her, pointing at the mouse.
She zeroed in on my finger.
“Come ON!” I yelled. Then I stuck her face right in front of the mouse. “THERE! RIGHT! THERE!”
I swear to God, her legs clamored for purchase in the air like Scooby-Doo launching himself off a cliff. The mouse let out a fearful “eek!” and hopped down into the base of the potted tree.
“AUGH!” I dropped the cat and grabbed the tree. Its base is filled with straw, so I can’t see the damned mouse and who knows if it’s going to come flying out at me. Holding the tree by its skinny trunk, I carried it out of the building and flipped it upside down. All the straw in the base fluttered to the ground, and out fell the mouse. Righting itself onto its legs, it hopped once more, then scurried off into the darkness.
I think I shook my fist in the air and called “Warn the others!” after it, but I’m not sure.
But I never had another mouse.
Featured image from foxnews.com. Not on purpose.