Mouse Trauma

The morning of Paul and Monica’s arrival from England, I was in the basement doing laundry. Movement catches my eye. I see a healthy mouse skidding away from me on the black shiny tile, trying to round a corner. Fate: I was talking to Kay who said mice run around sticky traps but she’s heard peanut butter on the trap works well. She’s very calm on the other end. I’m not so much. I get out four sticky traps as we talk. They are recycled. I saw a mouse a few months ago, never caught him, so I had put the traps back in the box. We end our conversation and, shaking, I go get a big glob of peanut butter. I put a dollop on each trap then return to my laundry. Within five minutes, the mouse is sitting on the trap eating peanut butter. Seeing me, he tries to flee and only his foot is stuck. Apparently, most of the trap had dried up on previous duty.

I ran into the laundry room to find something to shove him in and decided the bucket needed a lid. And I needed gloves. And I wished Bill was home. Bill?!?! I mean Dad. I wish Dad was next door. Or Mom. Or my sister. Or Grandma Murphy and Hazel. Two 85-year-old women, one with one leg, trapping a mouse in a sticky trap. Hazel caught it in her apartment then called Grandma for help. Grandma would get the damn thing with the end of Hazel’s cane. Then the ladies ended up with the cane stuck in the sticky trap – Grandma had missed the mouse. Then they got to laughing… Years ago, Mom had gone out one night to milk cows. My sister Leslie and I spotted a mouse, set a spring trap, and while Mom was still in the barn, crap! Snap! I only remember me standing on a chair screaming in the middle of the kitchen. I’m guessing my sister took care of it. …Then there was the mouse that Dad squished when I was first Dancing with a Foreign City Slicker.

All this playing like an old film reel as I stand paralyzed in the laundry room. No gloves in the basement. I’m gonna have to push the trap into my bucket bare-handed. I go back to find the mouse with one foot stuck to the trap, dragging the trap with him, and escaping under a door to the dank closet where the sump pump lives. I’m screaming at the mouse, holding the far end of the trap, “Don’t go under there! I don’t have time for this! I’ve got to get to the grocery store! I have a doctor’s appointment!” Then pull, pull, pull. He freed himself, but it looks like some of his foot is still on the sticky trap. Crap! I moved the trap. Seeing it up close, no, it’s not mouse toes. It’s a peanut. I used chunky peanut butter. So now I know he’s behind this door, fully intact. I find a wine box in the laundry room, open up the flaps, put a trap in the box and slide it right up to the door. The whole time thinking that I have to get this thing out before our friends arrive in six hours. I have little hope as I head back to the laundry room to finish laundry. With not even one shirt folded, I hear rustling in the box. And I thought Roosters were dumb.

Shaking like mad, I close the flaps on the box, run to the basement door – holding the box as far as possible from my body. I toss the box into the backyard and sit down, trying to quiet the shaking and trying to convince myself I’d read that hypothermia was a relatively painless death.

After tossing the box out the basement door, I race out the kitchen door to get to my appointment with the radiation doctor on time. I’m too hot for the wig. I take my gingerbread hat. At MGH, I meet my nurse who is also breathless and sweating. She explained that she had to get to her daughter’s book fair before work and raced like a mad woman to meet me at 10 a.m. Sweating, I pull off my hat. Life. “Crazy isn’t it? I’ve been chasing a mouse for an hour.”

Three days later, I notice the Kendall Jackson wine box folded up in the garage. Bill and I hadn’t talked about the mouse. I didn’t want three English people thinking I was a heathen for ridding the mouse from our house inhumanely. Bill definitely would’ve said something if he’d found the mouse with the box. I went looking for the trap. Nowhere in the vicinity of the box-landing. Ahh, but it was upside down nearly under the fence – empty. No mouse parts on it. My bachelor mouse had escaped the Malcolm house and property intact.

From a mouseless house,