Of Mice and Dudes.

For the last year I lived with my Grandma Mary. She is an amazing woman who had either a mice problem or a poltergeist problem. I tended to believe in the mice, as I have trapped a few, and Sawdust, the ancient cat, would also catch a mouse now and again. I joked, at the poor animal’s expense, that his “dying cat” act was just a ruse for the rodents. “That damned cat is on the tail end of his 9th life. He couldn't catch a cold at a dead run.” Snap. Now you just got ate by Sawdust. Later we put Sawdust to sleep and he has become the ghost cat at last. But this is about the mice.

I would hear the mice in the walls, and the hearing it would drive me near insane. There was a time, many years ago, during an expansion of my family’s home, that my sleeping loft lay open to the elements. As such, the acute and tall wedge of the loft became inundated with moths. Giant, powdery, fluttering moths. I learned to sleep under the blankets that summer. It wasn’t that I was afraid of the moths, it was that I was afraid of them landing on my face, or in my mouth. And I could hear them. Fluttering. Their powdered wings mere inches above my worried brow and tightly clenched eyes.

The mice were like this, but worse. A mere quarter inch of plywood between my headboard and their skittering claws. I would imagine their routes through the insulation and dog/cat food they would undoubtedly store. I wondered what the insulation to food ratio was, and also wondered if they had the small things I can never find. Meltagun. Alien claw. Models, you see. I would use this wonderment as a distraction from the skittering of not just one, but several mice, hauling ass through the walls, as dawn approached second by second.

As I said, the cat and I did the best we could to keep them down. Sometimes they were brazen and would come out to watch TV with me. Looking at me, defiant and proud, before leaping into the entertainment center to devour an album of treasured memories and poop on Grandma’s nice things. Sometimes I would trap them. I put a trap near my desk and was pleased to trap two with peanut butter bait. The next time I saw the trap it had been sprung, the peanut butter eaten, and a dollop of poop tastefully left on the trap itself. It was then I realized they had won.

I was moving my things out of Grandma’s place recently. She sold the place, which is great in a soured modern Grapes of Wrath age where they kick you off your farm with binding and confusing paperwork. Better by far that she has the cash to spend on nice things than falling down those treacherous stairs. I had arrived home, good old Peace Lane, with the remainder of my nice things, when we discovered something unfortunate. During the winter I had purchased some fantastic whole bean coffee that I never got around to grinding. When I went to grind some beans it turns out the mice had gotten into it. I threw away the coffee and cursed the mice.

It was very soon after this that I realized that the reason those mice where running around the walls all night was the same reason I never went to bed until shortly before dawn. They had been eating the good coffee and were going to be up all night, checking to make sure there was enough dog food and whistles to sustain them through the next year. I understood that their struggle to survive against the very real and deadly powers around them must be a terrible war.

Gods who provided them with delicious and succulent treats only to sticky trap them later. For I have crushed mice my Grandma has sticky trapped, and I am not proud of what I have done. For we are all of us just mice and dudes, breeding and pooping in the Gods kingdoms.


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