I’m a solitary man.
So as you can probably imagine, I wasn’t overly pleased about someone shacking up with me without even so much as asking.
Oh, no, wait – not like that. You see, I discovered the other week that I have mice. Well, that is to say I have a mouse.
I know what you’re thinking. You’re probably thinking, just one mouse? That’s pretty damn specific. And you’re right. It is. Real damn specific. Because that’s exactly what I have.
I live in an old house, because I like my space – so I have what the people in the real estate business call a heritage property. A century house. That is to say, it’s old and cold and drafty and I love it that way – because I like my damn space and my home being built out of wood, not fucking particleboard. I like my space and narrow stairwells with banisters and attic and cellar and crawlspace, so there.
But I do not like this mouse invading my property. It’s my home, rodents are vermin and that’s trespassing.
I could hear the damn thing in the night, squeaking and scratching and chewing. It was eating through the old wood in my beautiful home, turning it all into sawdust inside the walls and shitting out little black pellets. I could feel it.
I saw it once in the kitchen – damn thing was stupid enough to come out hiding and into the open. As I was frying up bangers and mash I heard it scurry out along the linoleum. It froze and looked up at me with those beady little black eyes and wasn’t even afraid. It was taunting me in my own home.
I grabbed another pan off the stove and chased that little bastard as fast as I could, screaming and smashing the floor behind, but it got away. My glorious breakfast was ruined by the agony of defeat and the escape of my nemesis.
This was war.
I became single-minded in my determination to regain the solitude of my beautiful home. I became a commando of the dark arts of pest extermination – every rat poison, every trap, every strategy and tactic for killing rodents – I learned them all.
Yet still the little bastard persisted. I found unsprung snap traps with the cheese gone. Glue traps with tiny footprints across them. Holes I had packed with steel wool were inexplicably open again the next day.
And still always the scratching. The scratching and the chewing. How they tormented me! It came from the ceiling above my bed when I tried to sleep at night, in the kitchen walls around me while I ate my dinner, and especially beneath the kitchen floor in the crawlspace.
I had to up the ante. The little bastard was getting the better of me. I set more traps, everywhere. I bought more and more rat poison with bigger and more extreme warning signs. I bought all manner of traps – live traps, super-sensitive high tension snap traps, electric wire barriers, pressure sensitive micro-projectiles. Still nothing.
Now I had to tiptoe around all the lethal hardware in my own home but that little bastard had the run of the place. Then one day I saw it again. The mouse made the mistake of coming out into the kitchen once more, and this time I was ready. I grabbed a meat tenderizer from one of the drawers and chased the little plague-bearer with all the fury and hellfire in my soul.
This time it didn’t run back into its hole but across the open floor. Ha! stupid vermin – I’ll pulverize you!
Out of the kitchen, down the creaky basement stairs and onto the concrete floor it skittered. I knew there were many holes down there it could escape into any moment, but I couldn’t stop now. I had to kill my miniature aggressor – I had to reclaim my home. Into the crawlspace the rodent fled, underneath the stairs, but I couldn’t let it get the best of me now. I grabbed a big flashlight from the workbench, threw aside the board covering the hole and army-crawled in after it.
Again I heard that abominable chewing. It seemed to come from everywhere around me, in the maze of two-by-fours which held up my old home. The mouse was here somewhere and I’d smash it yet. I crawled deeper and deeper into the crawlspace, shining my light all around and trying to locate the pest.
The chewing stopped and so did I. The regular creaking of my house above me turned to a loud groaning. I heard a sharp crack, and a cloud of sawdust from a shot downward from above my head, blinding me. One of the beams had snapped. As my vision cleared I heard the groaning deepen and I shone the light forward.
The last thing I saw as the house collapsed around me was the mouse sitting up on a beam ahead, and its little black eyes and smug look which seemed to say: I can set traps too.