killer.

I’ve had a mouse in the walls of my apartment – and sometimes in my apartment – for more than two weeks. There’s a badly done join under a cabinet, and I also discovered a long gap between carpet and baseboard that looks perfectly sealed but IS NOT. I talked to the landlord, who gave me a glue trap. Here endeth the landlord part of this story.


My first plan was just to keep him out. I filled all the holes I could find with steel wool and then sealed them with spray putty. The mouse found new gaps (it’s a very old apartment), and wriggled past steel wool (to his own injury), and scratched through wads of putty to get back in. He was really determined to be in my home, considering that there was no food he could get at and I kept removing all the places he could hide. I kept up the search/patch/repair regimen for 8 days, during which I got more and more anxious and uncomfortable in my home, which is normally my favorite place in the world. I only saw him three times, but I was always thinking I saw him. I could also hear him when he scratched at the putty.


After his second time scratching through the putty barrier and avoiding the landlord’s laughable glue trap, it was clear that I wasn’t going to be able to keep him out. I very much didn’t want him in, so I decided to get old fashioned snap traps. I hate the idea of hearing that sound and knowing what it means, but at least they’re a quick death, and I can’t live with a mouse. I got the traps, and I set them with peanut butter. The mouse carefully, so carefully, ate the peanut butter off the traps. I set them again. He ate it again. I began to feel like I should just give him a name and a water dish.


Then a few days ago I came home from work, and there he was, stuck in the glue trap. Three quick-death snap traps in the apartment, and he got stuck on the landlord’s stupid glue trap. I’m no stranger to animal death. I grew up on a farm, and the house in Nantucket has mice every couple of years. But in that moment, looking at that tiny, pretty, terrified creature staring at me and struggling, I would have done anything to be someone else. I would have given anything to go back and set a humane trap and let him out in the alley, even though I know he’d just come back in. Because now there was only one thing I could do. 


I put on gloves and I got a tack hammer out of the toolbox. I knelt on the floor and looked at him and said I’m sorry. I hit the mouse in the head with the tack hammer and he squeaked and he twitched and then he died. I stood up and my hands were shaking and I was crying and I couldn’t put the hammer down and couldn’t put the hammer down and couldn’t put the hammer down. Then I put the hammer down and I hated my hands. I know there wasn’t anything else I could do, but I wish I didn’t know what it felt like to do that. 


I stood there and finished crying and then I collected the little body and took it to the dumpster. I called Shana because I needed to say out loud, right that minute, “I just had to kill the mouse with a tack hammer.” She let me say it, and she made me feel better, and she even made me laugh a little about a merit badge for mouse battle. Then she tweeted that she loves me a lot so I would see it later because she’s really amazing like that. I changed and went to the gym, where I ran hard for 45 minutes but did not outrun the mouse.


I felt better when I got home, and after I ate dinner the awfulness of it had worn off. After I had a beer the anxiety had worn off. By the time I went to bed I was a little shocked at how fast I’d adjusted and stopped being sad. I walked around the apartment in bare feet for the first time in 18 days, and it was a relief to wake up the next morning and not have to check traps. Still. I know something now that I would rather not know, and I wish it had happened any other way.

One thought on “killer.

  1. Brenda

    You are so gifted with words and story, my friend – and I’m in awe of your bravery – I don’t know that I could have done the humane while impossibly brave thing that you did (but I have two furry creatures with fangs and claws to do that for me, whew. Your poor little mouse is now frolicking and gobbling down peanut butter pies in mouse heaven. And your toes are free to frolic in your haven of a home. šŸ™‚ and xo

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