- Harry Jensen
March 25, 2021
I saw a pileated woodpecker outside today, and in the last three days my roommate and I have seen twenty mice inside. It has been a big week for wildlife, and domestic life.
A house mouse massacre took place on Tuesday. Seven have been caught and released in a nearby bog, six have been caught and crushed in a neck-snap clap trap, three have scuttled by unharmed, three have been caught and escaped, and one has been killed with a cup. We don’t talk about the cup one.
I have been talking to people at work about the mice — except for the cup — and have gotten a lot of commiseration from people who lived on farms as kids.
“I see them all the time in my house, they bother my wife, but not me so much,” explained one driver. “They’re like air to me.”
When the humane traps didn’t work, these little hamster cages that close behind the mice, and the mice started eating food off the counter in front of me, nibbling and looking at me as if I bored them, I bought two inhumane traps called Jawz, which catch mice by the neck and eviscerate their spinal column. When I brought them home, I set them up immediately, and I had barely taken off my coat before I heard the first snap from the drawer that Riley believes is a “sex den.”
The first mouse was twitching when I discovered him, his head disappeared inside of the Jawz which held him. He was actively death-pooping, and kicking with his little feet. I shook as I removed the trap, convincing myself that I didn’t feel half-bad about it. At least I wasn’t stomping them or lighting them on fire or burning their adorable faces off with battery acid.
I had convinced myself that euthanizing mice via strangulation, mice that had been born and raised in my house, was actually a very honorable thing, when the mouse suddenly sprung from the trap, hobbled off with his broken neck, and climbed four feet up a wall to disappear again into the cabinetry.
I was relieved at first, then worried he’d tell the others.
“It was really fucked up of him,” he’d tell them, laid up in a mousular hospital bed with a full body cast made of my shredded Bon Appetit magazines and matted Chipotle napkins. “I think he probably has some kind of sexual disorder.”
To add insult to injury, the mouse would warn all of his fellows to stay out of the sex den until things cooled down, and my four-dollar traps would be for naught.
Yet, a few minutes later, another snap. And throughout the night another and another and another. I tried to mercy kill one who wouldn’t die, but ended up ferociously pinching his neck to no avail. I couldn’t let him get away, so I waited for the trap to kill him — I’ll show them who has a sexual disorder.
Then there were the bodies, which I had placed in one of our drinking glasses to grow rigid and smelly. My initial thought was to toss them into the backyard, which was not my roommate’s instinct.
“Can you fry mice?” Riley asked, licking his lips nervously.
I informed him that the skinning would be too much trouble, and we probably shouldn’t eat anything that is known for killing humans if it defecates in the rice. So, instead, I took a trowel and dug four very shallow graves in the backyard.
I didn’t say much, but I said something special for the mouse I killed with a cup. I was a little drunk off of tequila, and we had just finished an improv scene about pirates when I saw a baby mouse scampering by. Without thinking, I dove on the mouse with a plastic drinking glass and somehow caught it. But I caught it halfway, with its neck on the lid of the cup, and before I could think I jerked the lid of the cup down and there was a snap, a seizure, and then nothing. I broke its neck with the lip of a glass from which I drink ethically tugged whole milk, severed its spinal cord with the glass in which I whisk farm raised chicken eggs, and killed a baby mouse right there and then.
I appreciate a good burial. I shook when I killed the mouse, my hands shaking with adrenaline while it’s death throes rattled and quieted, but I was calm as I dug the small shovel into the ground to make a very shallow grave, and then three more. In the ritual is something releasing, the practice of burial and forgiveness and acquittal, for the dead and for oneself. A mass grave is peppered with opportunities for release, and for renewal, and I stood in the rain with my hoodie pulled tight, the shovel dangling from my hands above four freshly patted holes, I knew myself, and I knew this: I do not have a sexual disorder, damn it. I win.