Mice have made a little beach head in our kitchen. They visit nightly and leave little trails of piss and mouse shit behind them. Field mice don’t care about clean restrooms. The world is their restroom.
But we make progress. We’ve purchased humane traps which work quite well. Humane traps present their own problem, however: what to do with the mice you’ve caught.
I find them jittering inside in the metal traps at 6:30 in the morning. And though I need to get ready for work, first things first: time to take little Squeaker for a ride. Far away.
A couple of days ago at sunrise I drove down to the levee to release a mouse into the riverbed. Atop the levee, on the riverside bike path, two gentlemen of the road with bikes and backpacks amused themselves with exercise equipment that an eccentric city had chosen to dump there.
I walked past them toward the river and put the metal trap on the ground. I opened the top with gloved hands. The mouse sat there for a moment, processing. Then it arrowed down the levee at great speed.
I wished it good luck and walked back to the car with trap in hand.
“Hey!” one of the road knights shouted. “Izzat a drone?”
“No, it’s a trap.”
“A ANIMAL trap!”
“A mouse trap. I just let a mouse go.”
“It doesn’t kill them?”
“GOOD. That’s HUMANE!”
“Yah!” the other one said. “HUMANE! AWRIGHT!”
I almost always interact with the odd on these missions. When I go to places where no one should be, I run into people who need such places.
A night or two back, I barely had time to clean and replace the traps before a mouse thrust itself into one. Leave the kitchen for 20 minutes and see what happens, right? That left me with a mouse to dispose of in the dark of night.
One does not go down to the levee in darkness; unpleasantness may occur. So the mouse and I cruised the Westside together lin search of a good spot.
I found it at Neary Lagoon Park: a park only in name. It’s a facade of green that conceals the sewage treatment plant and, of course, the lagoon: a wetland of reeds and ducks fed by streams and acquifers, spang in the middle of town. With giant white carp, six feet long. They float below the surface like ghosts.
I turned into the entrance: there’s a restroom building, a small lawn, a rocky vacant lot, and not much else but chainlink fence and behind, mysterious trees. I parked on the lot and turned out the headlights. The place was dark, deserted. Perfect.
This peace lasted perhaps 30 seconds. In a blaze of light, a postal van roared up behind me and stopped. A bicyclist hauling a trailer pedaled up to the restroom building. Out front, under a lamp, sat a large outdoor washing station. It was almost a fountain. The bicyclist busied himself at it.
A woman piled out of the postal van and ran to the rear of the building. Those restrooms lock up at sundown, but maybe she had a key. Or, not.
I got out of the car, donned a pair of gloves, and retrieved the mousetrap. The woman reappeared, having achieved something in some way. In the glow of the lamp, she bent over the washing station with the man.
I put the trap on the lawn and opened it. The mouse arrowed away to the chain link fence, the trees, the lagoon, water, food, a new life. Unless one of the carp gets it.
And I thought about this strange tableau: two strangers bent over a basin together under a cone of light in the darkness, while a hulking stranger with a metal box releases a mouse into the void. Is this reality as designed by the surrealists? In the lair of some extra-dimension being, does this scene endlessly replay itself on whatever passes for a wall?
I got in the car and backed away. Behind me, the postal van also moved out, leaving behind a man with a bicycle, under a light, alone: until someone else shows up. That might take awhile, or only five minutes. In this town, the solemn, empty spaces are quite heavily used.