This all started before the holidays on a night warm enough to leave the window open a few cracks. I’m in my relative’s (let’s call him Mighty Man) living room with the music off, attempting to trace the source of scratching sounds by holding my breath and not moving. It could be a branch scraping against the roof, or a sleepless squirrel. Then something falls from somewhere in the kitchen. I know it’s not the fearless cat as he’s sleeping on the floor at my feet.
The next day, Mighty Man laughs off the pitter patter. It’s obvious to me we have a ghost on our hands. He thinks it’s a mouse. That’s ridiculous. A mouse in the country? We agree to disagree until later when I come face to face with the source of the haunting and I’m actually wrong.
I don’t want to tell you about its beady black eyes or how time slowed as it vanished in the narrow gap between the wall and back of the stove. Never mind the thunk of its body hitting the floor or its victorious scurry that seemed to echo throughout the walls. Granted I was half asleep at the time, but I swear there was a giggle.
On any given day you can look down on the subway tracks and count the vermin on two hands, but seeing one indoors messes with your head. I really want to be the kind of person who can trap it in a box and release it in a field of daisies, but I’m not.
If only this were a ghost. All you do with ghosts is confront them. Right, paranormal reality shows? You say something brave like You’re not wanted here, but perhaps the neighbor could use some company.
Now my rational side knows that mice are everywhere and when it’s cold outside and food is harder to find, they natural seek out warmth. Plus, country mice are kind of cute, not jaded like snearing city mice. The thing is, at night the rational side of my mind tucks itself away far beyond reach. Something snaps and I hide under the force field of the covers.
Did the mouse follow me here from the city? I’m the only one who’s seen it. Am I hallucinating?
The cat is nowhere to be found and Mighty Man refuses to use humane traps, those little plastic boxes with a flap. You can check in, Micey, but you can’t check out. Slide in your scoop of expired peanut butter on a stale health cracker and think you can wipe your hands clean of the whole mess, only no mouse with good vision falls for that trick. We know this guy has good vision because he saw me. We had a moment.
Mighty Man devises a plan and it involves sticky traps and artificially flavored cheese product – the stuff that’s always on sale. A barrage of sticky pads were still being placed when Micey pounces on the bait. Like leading a horse to water, if the horse then took off full throttle with the gluey pad stuck to its backside. Don’t worry, before disappearing it pried the pad off somehow.
Now that we fed and waxed a mouse, Might Man adds one more weapon to our arsenal. He plugs in these electronic devices that emit ultrasonic sound waves too high for human ears to hear. And we didn’t see Micey ever again, dead or alive. The little guy may be gone from Mighty Man’s kitchen, but we’re more than one hundred miles away now and he’s still in our heads. And the part that’s in our heads is like a magnet for all things unwanted.
I know it’s a bit anticlimactic, but I haven’t gotten to the best part yet. Maybe tomorrow. If you’ve read this far, you deserve a picture of the ocean on a grumpy day.
And a not so grumpy day.