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Note teeth marks on right handle.

Last week, when I opened the kitchen drawer in which I keep my knives, I discovered many minuscule mouse turds, a heart-stopping visual experience. Then I noticed shiny bits of red plastic. What? The mouse was either desperately hungry or had a taste for plastic. With his tiny tough teeth, he’d chiseled the handles of my kitchen shears as well as that of a knife.

Next, I found similar cuts along the lid of a leftover container in the drawer underneath, and beneath that, turds scattered among my sieves. None of the three drawers contained any food, by the way. What the heck?

That night, when I came into the kitchen, there was a mouse on the kitchen floor. He glanced briefly at me before darting under the fridge. This had to stop. I went looking for the little black box I’d used some years before to dispatch a mouse. It’s just a glorified snap trap but has the advantage of hiding most of the victim, should you get your quarry.

I’ve become lactose intolerant so had to bait the trap with almond cheese, hoping mice don’t have discriminating palates. I put a little piece in the recommended spot and slowly pulled up the rigid wire until it clicked in the raised position. How horrible is that? 

It’s one thing to squish the caterpillars defoliating my apple tree, but quite another to kill a fellow mammal, however small. I put the trap in the now empty knife drawer, and shut the drawer. Mice can squeeze their little bodies through tiny spaces. Then I went to bed feeling more or less appalled.

In the morning, when I opened the drawer, there was a slender pink tail trailing out the trap’s opening. I carried the trap down to the edge of the woods and opened it. There was the mouse, the bar that had snuffed out his life just in back of his sweet little ears, his black eyes wide open. “I’m so sorry,” I said, lifting the bar. He landed on his back, his white belly bright in the morning sun. I turned him right side up and covered him with dead leaves, the ground being frozen.

I caught another mouse two nights later. This one might have been the twin of the first and his small body, too, was laid to rest under a few leaves. Since then, all has been undisturbed in the knife drawer.

It’s a shabby feeling, winning the kitchen battle against such small and winsome foes. I did it deceitfully and by proxy, not even having to be present for the sudden snap. 

May there be better meals than red plastic in the next world.

Posted on: Feb. 16, 2022

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