By Claudia Jacobson
Lately our home is overrun with rodents. They are little field mice, nimble, fast, gutsy and foolish.
Lanky, freckle faced, yellow Archie adds to our trouble by being a cat. He grabs the mouse then drops it. The mouse flees and then he dives after it crashing into furniture including my bed. Archie runs from kitchen to living room, comes to a hard stop by sliding into the front of the living room and ricochets off the wall. John refuses to turn the light on, whining, “There’s nothing I can do. I can’t catch the mouse and you know what happens.”
I remember what happens. It’s quite the show. My husband in his underwear, mostly asleep, pitches the waste basket at the terrified mouse and rarely succeeds to catch anything with a small can. He tries to spare the vermin’s life, preferring to show him to the door. Most often he misses the mouse and trips over the cat who follows my husband and ‘his’ mouse. My sweet hubby, nearly blind, half naked, barefoot, stubbing his toe and using language familiar to longshoremen, sailors and exasperated spouses chasing mice at night while his bladder howls “empty me or else.”
My friend Jean, after I complained to her, confessed sheepishly, “Your situation is complicated. They may be more than just the usual mice.”
It seems that a few decades ago, one of Jean’s young daughters developed a successful marketing scheme that Jean thinks involves my home today. Her young daughter attended Andes Central School, just next door.
Jean’s home was inhabited by numerous mice. Brazen little mammals, they moved into Jean’s place to breed their young, coinciding with the start of the school year. There was no cat or any other predator living in their house. Life for the mice was too good. Jean was and is a wonderful cook. She had seven children. Children and cooking make messes and mouse food was easy pickings.
Jean’s little girl felt the need to have some spending money. She had friends who owned snakes which only ate live mice. Quick witted, she started catching live mice, boxing them up and taking them to school. Her little friends were able to pay a quarter for each mouse. Of course, no child can sit in a school chair with a live mouse and not want desperately to play with it. At recess everybody went outside, including the mice. The scared mice would escape from a child’s hands and eventually cross the driveway moving into the first warm house they came to, now mine.
Then the child needed another mouse. Jean’s daughter trapped another and carried it to school. Business was brisk. Endless supply and need meant numerous quarters. Jean’s loss our gain. No, it’s Jean’s gain of fewer mice and our loss of sleep.
Last night was not as bad as the night before when I was awake for almost 2 hours watching and listening in the dark while the curtains swung wildly like a cheap horror film. Archie’s feet skidded from the kitchen to the living room.
Our downstairs is laid out like the southern shotgun house: living room, dining room, kitchen all in one straight line. So you could shoot your shotgun off in the kitchen and hit any intruder in your front room. My illness and no electric stair keeps me confined to this room instead of being upstairs in my big bedroom with a door. Three years in this living room is too long. So for now I’m stuck in this damn bed, yearning to be rodent-free or have extraordinary night vision and be an accurate shot. ~