So, right. I received an email from my next-door neighbour the other day.
(I’m given to understand that it’s “weird” to get an email from your neighbour, but we live in a small building, and also I’m cursed, okay, I’m a loner, Dotty, a rebel, but I’ve lived here since Jesus was a baby, and so, the assorted fuckups and yahoos who’ve shagged ass out of here as soon as their leases expired used to come see me on the regular with their problems and needs, hornswoggled by urban legends about my powers. Giving them my email address was just easier.)
In this email, my neighbour asked me if I’ve noticed any “pests” recently.
“Just you, baby,” I didn’t say. Instead, I took her serious and allowed that I have silverfish and spiders, but not such as mice and cockroaches, if those were what she was suggesting.
In return, she reported that she’d seen “a rodent” a few days prior, and advised me to keep my foodstuffs under lockdown, as a precaution.
“I don’t own food, you fool!” I didn’t say. Instead, I convinced myself that the reason I haven’t seen any “rodents” here is either a) because my sweet friend and former roommate (RIP) is still hanging out here spiritually, chasing them all away, b) because before she died, she peed and/or barfed on basically every object in the apartment, and the scent of it has perhaps lingered, or c) both.
I mean, we had a mouse in here one time, about nine years ago, but she killed him instantly, and I’ve never seen one since, even though it’s a ground-floor apartment, the windows are open pretty frequently, there’s a huge gap under the front door, I’ve seen all kinds of urban wildlife goofing off on the lawn, over the years, and I saw a rat frolicking in the snow outside just a couple of months ago, a couple of months after my sweet friend was called home.
Here she is, okay. We used to have food sitting out in the open 24/7, but “rodents”? It is to laugh.
In the small hours of this morning, just as I happened to look up, for no obvious reason, I saw a mouse scamper out of my kitchen, in along the wall, and under my couch. A moment later, I heard Mysteeeeerious Scraaaaatching in my bedroom.
By this time, I had already secured my meager foodstuffs, and–okay lookit, one of the major things in my private life is feeding the local crows, but that’s another story for another time. All you really need to know at this juncture is that some of my jacket pockets contain Peanut Residue, and thinking of it in the wake of The “Rodent” Report, I tried to disguise it by stuffing those pockets with Bounce sheets, to prevent “rodents” from chewing them open and peeing inside them.
Still, I worried.
I wanted to tell my neighbour that I too had seen the “rodent,” but I don’t know her life, okay, the main thing I know about her is she distributed a building-wide survey when she thought a water pipe was too loud, but she couldn’t convince our landlord to take action on it. It was too loud, but a survey felt… excessive.
What if she wanted our landlord to bring in an exterminator? What if he responded by giving us glue boards? I’d never use a glue board, okay, they’re on a par with leghold traps in terms of monstrous “solutions,” if you ask me, but I couldn’t stop her from doing it, and she might, okay, it’s the “rodent” thing. Not “have you seen a mouse,” but “have you seen any pests,” not “I saw a mouse the other day,” but “I saw a rodent.”
It’s meaningful. Girl, you know it’s true.
But what if I said nothing, let the mouse have the run of the place unless/until he did something unforgiveable, like chew up my laptop adapter cable, or drink all my gin? What if he did worse elsewhere? What if he’s actually a beautiful lady, a beautiful pregnant lady, and suddenly we had a full-on infestation, instead of just this one goober trying to make a better life in the big city?
I blamed myself.
I never worried about leaving my windows open when my sweet friend was around, because like I say, we had one mouse, one time, and the indignity was too much for her to bear. But she died about four months ago, and I’ve had the windows open more than ever–she had a heart condition among other things, was quick to take a chill, but I run hot like lava–and so many times, I’ve thought oh no, that frolicking snow rat will come in. Baby raccoons will come in. The smoke monster from Game of Thrones will come in.
I’ve thought it nearly every day, and now, here was this mouse. Never mind that my landlord did a major demo just upstairs a couple of weeks ago, likely displacing all kinds of life: this was definitely my fault. The Law of Attraction at work.
And it’s such bad timing, besides, all the way around. My sweet friend never had the opportunity to murder the mouse and make a plaything of its corpse. The mouse never had the opportunity to enjoy the plentiful food that sat out in the open when my friend was here. He’s shown up now, when the closest thing to food that anyone ever finds on my floor is a torn-up Kleenex soaked with my tears.
Don’t eat that, man. I don’t care that it’s enriched with lotion. It’s still not food.
Anyway, although at the time of this writing I feel no special need to take action, it occurred to me in the moment that it might come to that, you know, if I see one ant in here, I don’t give a care, but if I see a hundred, I have to kill them. I don’t want to–I’ll stay right still and let a mosquito feed on me, Zika be damned, I do exactly nothing about silverfish, wood lice and flies, I keep paper towel tubes on hand to rescue spiders from my sinks and tub–but visitation and infestation are not the same, yeah?
A mouse, though.
A whole, entire mouse.
Like I say, glue boards are out of the question, and so is poison. Spring traps were a maybe at first, because there’s nowhere nearby that I could release the mouse if I caught him in a live trap, but… was I really going to kill a mouse because it would be inconvenient to relocate him? Sit here and die of Zika, who cares?! but then kill a mouse so I didn’t have to bag him and take him to the park?
Oh my fuck, it’s a whole big thing. He must have friends and/or family around here. Take him far away, introduce him to a new world, it’s Coyote Ugly all over again, but without John Goodman to disapprove of his choices and remind him where he came from. Of his wholesome, small-town values!
Plus: that park is full of crows and seagulls. I feed those crows, okay. The day I showed up with this mouse could be Crowsmas, for all I know.
Plus: mice are pretty emotional, okay, I’m going to catch him, bag him, and then carry him who knows how far away, letting him steep in terror the whole entire time?
I wish this was the biggest and most serious problem facing me at this time, but I’m grateful for the distraction, all the same.