mouse-mice-pattern-bgdAll comfy and relaxed, I was watching a movie way past bedtime when a mouse streaked into my living room and disappeared under the couch. I have lived in my apartment a zillion years with not a mouse in sight, so this critter brought me to my feet FAST.  As I leaped up, he dashed from the cover of one piece of furniture to another, zoomed around the room and vanished back in the kitchen.  After a tense apartment search brought up zero, I was sitting there debating what to do next when ANOTHER mouse — a BIGGER one shot around my feet and commenced another circle run  — but at a less frenetic pace, vanishing behind furniture for unnerving long minutes.

The next morning my landlord, who also lives in this more than 100-year-old brownstone, reacted to my mouse visits with concern. Major Construction had been going on in the adjoining brownstone for months and they had just started tearing out the interior of the brownstone on the OTHER side of us, so we were now sandwiched between two ancient brownstones with crumbling walls and who knew how many mice evictions. An hour later an exterminator found a few mouse droppings below my kitchen sink cabinet, but no entrance holes. Confident the problem was minor, he left behind some old fashion spring traps and newer glue traps. After quick research indicated the glue traps caused mice to die slow, painful deaths, I chose the spring traps. Snapping a neck wasn’t a swell way to go either, but at least it was quick.

Managing to set up the trap springs without taking off a finger, I added dabs of peanut butter that my freeloading roommates apparently enjoyed, snatching it off without springing the traps. But still no dead mice: I beefed up my attack, adding mouse motels to the kitchen arsenal. Theoretically the mice wouldn’t die in there; after eating the poisoned bait, they’d have the courtesy to go off and die in private. In bed later that night, I heard a sharp clattering noise in the kitchen. The clattering got louder and sharper. Jeez — what were they doing out there? I was trying to get up the nerve to investigate when — yikes — I figured it out. In their zeal to devour the bait, the mice were battering the rock-hard bait cakes against the sides of the plastic motels. With each frenetic chomp, they seemed to be squealing “Party time! Come and get it!”  And come their buddies did. All night long. Spooked by their frenzied feasting, I was afraid to get up and ruin their fun. AND get between hungry rodents and their food.

The next morning an unpleasant, pungent odor filled my kitchen. After spotting numerous mice droppings and chucking the motel traps (they could kiss their nocturnal orgies good bye), I could see I was in big trouble. The exterminator bent down under the sink cabinet and agreed. He took one whiff and announced, “It’s mouse urine. Smells like a whole nest — like they moved into the space underneath your cabinet floor.”

My stove had only been partially moved away from the wall during the initial search, but now it was moved completely back to reveal the entire wall.  And there it was! An entrance hole near the floor large enough for tanker trucks. I half expected to see mice barreling through it. “Nah,” he said. “They like the dark. That’s when they come out to see what’s what.”

When I inquired how long it would take him to get rid of the vermin I was dismayed to hear this was now a contractor’s job. And unfortunately, said the landlord, the contractor couldn’t show for a few days. There was NO WAY I was staying in that apartment till then, I informed him. I’d move out and come back when the work was finished and the mice had packed their bags and vamoosed.

“But you can’t leave now!” protested the landlord. ” They’ll take over the whole apartment.”

He’s not given to hyperbole and his tone produced scary visions of mice swarming like locusts through my deserted apartment.

From then on It was open war. Now that I knew where the little devils were entering, I placed the traps along their route, memorizing a few of the trickier spots to prevent my toes from making any sudden bone snapping contact. From their tunnel, the critters had to skitter along a ledge beside the stove, then leap to the floor. A perfect spot for a direct hit. Not one mouse was caught that day, however, almost as though their spies had discovered my strategy,

That night I hit the sack with practically every light shining. If I couldn’t kill the buggers at least I could confuse them. In the early morning hours just as it was getting light, a thunderously loud snapping noise instantly woke me. I stalled getting up, having to look at that dead mouse and — ugh — pick the vile thing up. When I finally edged into the kitchen, eyes squinched almost shut, I made out a dark gray shape on top of my prime target trap. And I’m here to tell you it IS possible to pick up a dead mouse, swaddle it in newspaper and dispose of it without once looking directly at it.

Later in the day three more mice met their makers in the same spot. After dinner, a few more bought the course further down the line, which increased my uneasiness. Maybe I was killing off beloved relatives and angering their kin. Maybe there were vengeful mice down there right now gunning for me.

The next morning started with another snapping bang. From then on it was a massacre.  At one point, I killed four mice in one hour. By the time the contractor showed up the next day, I had lost count of the carnage. After surveying the situation the contractor said, “Once we plaster the wall I can’t guarantee they won’t tunnel back in. If they do, we’ll have to install a steel plate to keep them out.”

But the wall has held. Glory be and Hallelujah!

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