Monday, February 18, 2013

The Mouse Must Die

Every evening when I go into our storage closet under the stairs to grab Stella's leash and some poop-bags, I witness the same frustrating scene.  A cute little mouse scampers out from under the shelving by my feet and makes for the farthest recesses of the closet, amid the rubble of pool toys and boxes of old photos.  On the way to his impenetrable fortress, strewn with rice and dogfood he has pilfered from our stores, he slaloms between two state-of-the-art mouse traps, both baited with peanut butter-smeared cheese, paying them not a whit of attention.  This has been going on for a month now.

There's a story my dad used to tell about when his older brother, Mosey, pulled out a pistol at the dinner table and shot a rat that popped out while the family ate.  This would have been either in Arkansas or Montana, or somewhere in between, in a bunkhouse on a cattle or wheat operation--so it was bucolic, not squalid.  I always picture Mosey shooting the varmint right out of an open window, then wiping the mashed potato remnants out of his handlebar mustache while holstering his revolver.  And when I think about it, it's not so very different from the last time I had to deal with a brazen rodent.

I was living in a house with three other guys at the time, all of us undergrads at the University of Virginia.  This would have been back in Nineteen-and-Ninety-one or so.  It was a pretty decent place in a neighborhood just dodgy enough to make it interesting.  We got burglarized once (while the dog and one of the guys slept), were regularly solicited by door-to-door crack salesmen, and had all of our cars smashed into by the Lincoln Continental belonging to the crossing guard who directed the children to the school across the street every morning at 7:30 while blasting C&C Music Factory's "Everybody Dance Now."  When we threw parties at our house, our classmates, who had no reason to hang out in this part of town otherwise, would be sketched out walking from their cars to our front porch.  We had cred.  Did I mention that Dave Matthews hung out at our crib on several occasions?

One of the friends of the house was a charismatic sociopath who loved nothing more than to encourage people to do things that were against their best interests.  It was thanks to him that I maintained my mullet for at least a year longer than I should have, grew a creepy goatee, took weightlifting supplements that made me irritable and dyspeptic, built an elaborate marijuana grow-room in my attic even though I didn't like to smoke, bought roller blades, and, perhaps worst of all, wore the kind of drawstring pants favored by bodybuilders and Sammy Hagar.  Another pastime this friend introduced to the house was bb guns.

Once he had convinced us to build up an arsenal of multi-stroke air rifles, we whiled away many a pleasant hour sitting on the couch, drinking bottles of Schlitz and shooting at or around a target on the other side of the house.  Naturally, it wasn't long before we started taking pot-shots at one another, and carrying the guns outside the house for more interesting target practice, sometimes running afoul of the law.  The local gendarmes were surprised to learn, the times that we couldn't outrun them, that we were all grown-ass men, and that the charismatic sociopath was a veteran of the U.S. Army.

The couch whence we used to shoot. Note 1st gen roller blades in foreground.

Repairing the target area before we moved out. Trust me, overalls with no shirt/no mullet was an improvement over Sammy Hagar pants, mullet, and goatee

Moving day.  Everything I needed in the back of the truck: Mac the dog, recliner, beer fridge, bb gun

Considering the baseline hygiene level in that house, it's surprising that our rodent problem didn't manifest earlier and with more vengeance.

It seemed to be just one mouse.  That's the narrative we created, anyway.  We called him Klaus, because German is funny.

He was bold, this Klaus.  At first, he would creep along the baseboards and peek at us, as if marking the locations of the most bounteous pizza caches, camouflaged in the red and orange carpet.  Later, realizing that we posed no threat, he would promenade into the middle of the dining room, practically demanding his own slice.

Despite being too lazy to buy a mouse trap, we realized that Klaus was a liability, and that we should think about considering possibly taking some action against him at some point.  While cute, he was still vermin, and vermin were known to be repulsive to the ladies.  He had to go.  Eventually.

One morning, somewhere between midnight and Brit Lit paper deadline, I reclined in my bed, reading the Old Testament.  No, really.  I was working on an essay where I compared some elements of Genesis to Milton's Paradise Lost.  I was coming around the bend, fluffing up my tepid thesis with whimsical wordsmithery and alliterative artifice, when I detected, out of the corner of my eye, a skittering.

It was Klaus, of course--the lonely, uninvited houseguest looking for some action long after the party had ended.  He eased out from behind the open door and into the room.

I put the Bible on my lap and reached for my Daisy 880, which I always kept leaned against the night stand in case any of my roommates thought it would be funny to wake me up with some bbs in the ass.  I pumped it once, twice, three times.

Slowly, as to not spook the varmint, I brought the stock to my shoulder and closed my left eye.

I had never before felt so American.

Klaus bolted.

When my heart settled down, I lay the rifle across my comforter--red with black fleurs de lis; the same one I had had since the tenth grade--and picked up the Bible, pretending to scan for relevant passages, although, make no mistake, I was on the hunt.

Klaus made his move once more.  I dropped the Good Book and leveled my weapon.  My months of training took over as I calmed my breathing.  Inhale.  Cheek against the stock weld.  Aim.  Exhale.  Pause.


Klaus came off of his tiny feet and slammed into the cinder-block-and-plywood bookcase.  He twitched and writhed.

I leaped out of bed in my boxer shorts and pumped the rifle as I closed in on the miserable mouse.

"Sorry, friend," I said.

Then I put one in his dome.


This new mouse that lives in the closet?  I think I could get him, even though he's much more cautious than Klaus ever was.  I'll need a pistol though, at such close range.  CO2 powered, of course.  And maybe some night-vision goggles, and body armor to protect against the ricochet.  And a new Bible. 

Uncle Mosey would be so proud.   


  1. My daughter took out a mouse with a BB gun after she moved in with her boyfriend. It was far more humane than my wife. Insistent on needing no kill traps, she bought them, set them, and placed them in the basement. And never checked them. Poor little guys starved to death.

    1. When I was a high school teacher, we had a mouse problem in the classroom. The custodian put out the traps where the poor little bastards get their feet caught in glue. So every once in a while, a kid would start screaming in the middle of class and we would find a hapless varmint struggling for his life. I would call the custodian to deal with it. Class would be shot after that.

  2. I once had a mouse hanging from the false ceiling in the basement of the townhouse I was renting. The landlord neglected to mention that there was a mouse problem and they had a bunch of mouse traps set up there. One little fella chewed a whole through the ceiling only to dangle there until he died. Not what I wanted to see when I went downstairs to get my laundry.

    There may have been screaming.

  3. Great story, Beta.
    When I was mid-teen, my brother and I noticed several little monsters scatter in the garage every time we went out. We had a peanut butter and trap party and caught no less than 23 in a single morning. I mean, we would check a trap, empty, reset, and replace, only to hear another snap within 30-60 seconds at times. It was a family feud, and we kicked ass.
    I have faith in you Beta. Stay the hunter.

    The Cheeky Daddy

  4. The best part about Mosey's shot was that when he sensed the mouse ambush, he tipped over the chair he was sitting in, drew, rolled across the kitchen floor, fired and nailed it. Maw said, "you dog." This was on the Miller brothers' ranch near Cleveland, Montana. We had a bunkhouse, but the action took place in the "big house." The scariest shooting incident for me, a six-year-old, happened in the same house (I think). A family of skunks got under the house. One night when they made a bunch of noise, Paw started shooting through the floor. I was afraid he would set off a skunk counterattack.

    1. Thanks, Dad. I was hoping you would share the details of that story. I haven't heard it in a long time.

  5. Hahaha - the SQUALOR in the PARLOR there. Amazing. I've not been that happy since.

    1. Your busted leg added a lot to the ambiance.

  6. I hope you get him before I get there. You have 2 days.

  7. This story... is fucking awesome! Way better than how I had to deal with our mice:


Don't hold back.


Related Posts with Thumbnails