"We kill small animals in the night...."

For the past few weeks, we've been hearing scuffling noises coming from our attic. We know - from past experience - that this likely means the mice have returned to our attic.

We'd have mice before, but I like to forget about those times.  Until they make so much noise that they wake us both up at night, and then I can't continue to forget about it. So last night, Dave set mouse traps in the attic.

Here's a great glimpse into the way our relationship works. Dave sets the traps, because there is something fundamentally dangerous in setting those rickety old school mouse traps that do the best job.  He doesn't want me to lose a finger.  But then later it's my job to retrieve their bodies. Me, the person who is devastated every time I see road kill. I'm put on body clean-up duty.  I like to think that, deep down, that makes me to stronger partner in our relationship. 

So we set the traps around 9 p.m. last night.  At 2:32 a.m., we were both woken up by crazy noises coming from right above our heads.  I'm fairly certain that I was in the middle of some pretty serious REM sleep, so it took me awhile to come out of my haze.  But I'm sure of what I heard.  Plenty of scuffling and scraping and playing around (enough to rouse me) and then a loud SNAP!, followed by pure silence.

"Oh. My. God."

That is what I said.  I still couldn't open my eyes, but my brain was wide awake.  And it was disturbed.

"I'm sorry, Dippold," is what Dave said.

So we were both awake by this point.  I mentioned how I thought it was crazy how much noise there was before the actual "snap" of the trap.   "I have my theory... " Dave said, and then trailed off.  "Go ahead," I said, because I knew my theory was probably the same.

We both agreed that we believed that the mouse had somehow gotten his tail - or perhaps a limb - stuck in one of the three traps.  In painful panic he thrashed around, trying to get it off, until he encountered yet another trap, which led to the snap.  After coming to that conclusion we tried to go to sleep, but I know was awake for at least a solid 45 minutes.  I couldn't get those noises out of my head.

So fast forward to 5:45 p.m. this evening.  I decided to face my fears as soon as I got home from work - might as well get it out of the way, right?  I set up the trash can next to the ladder in my closet (where the attic access is) and moved some of my clothes out of the way.  I got the flashlight and a wad of paper towels, just in case I had to come into contact with something gross.  I lifted the wooden cover and slid it to the front of the house. I then poked my head up into what must be about a 12x24 hole, with my back arched at a weird angle, because the arch of the closet was against my back.  I knew the traps were situated at the back of my head, so I shined the flashlight to my right first, and then twisted my body so that I could see behind me.  I saw two of the mouse traps sitting on the piece of cardboard that Dave had placed them on, still set as they had been the night before.  I saw the squirrel trap that we had purchased back in the day when we couldn't believe that mice could make so much noise.  But I didn't see any dead mice. 

I went up another step on the ladder, with my head still facing the back of the house, towards the traps.  My head was fully in the attic now, instead of my eyes peeping just above the threshold.  As my eyes adjusted I continued the shine the flashlight around.  Where was that damn mouse???  Had I crushed him when I slid back the access cover???

I flicked the light back to my right where I initially started looking, and then turned my head towards the front of the house.

And came within an inch of the face of One. Very. Dead. Mouse.

I yelped like a startled 10 year old and went down the ladder.  Murph, who is always very responsive when I sound distressed, jumped on the bed and tried to reach out to me.  I was doing deep breathing exercises, mentally preparing myself for going back up there and facing the mouse again on my own terms.  But then I decided to do it blind. I reach my hand up with the paper towels and felt for the back of the trap, where I knew the mouse wasn't.  I pulled him out, and as his tail brushed one of my sweaters on the closet shelf - "EW!" - I dropped him into the trash.

Now comes the part where I understand why I am the one to retrieve mouse bodies (and I'm promise this is almost over.)  I think I am strangely intrigued by dead mice. I examined him in the trash can.  I looked into his dark eyes, which reminded me strangely of Murphy's eye, and they didn't look dead at all.  He was plump, soft, and broken, and I felt sort of sad for him.

I examined this mouse up and down; confirmed that he had indeed died of a snapped neck and DID NOT - in fact - get a tail or limb stuck in another trap.  Rather, I think that the noises we heard were just amplified sounds of him moving the trap towards the front of the house, onto the attic access door.  In fact, I give him props for getting it as far as he did without dying.  He was a clever little character...

So, that's my story.  A little anti-climatic, I admit.  But you have to understand how incredibly disturbing this entire event was.  I'm actually surprised that we only got one mouse - usually where there is one there are plenty more.  But I am hopeful that tonight we will be able to sleep soundly without the sounds of animals dying above our heads. 

And I'll end with something that Dave posted on my Facebook page earlier today, "We kill small animals in the dark of the night... We're bad."  I just hope it's not two dark nights in a row...


BeeKayRoot said...

Lisa, you make me laugh!

This reminds me of a time last year when I was sitting in my apartment late at night. I had just come into the apartment, sat down, and turned on my TV. In the corner of my eye, I saw a tiny mouse just sitting there. He wasn't moving, but was very alive.

Well,so I thought. I knew I wouldn't catch the critter, because of many failed attempts the day before. So, I picked up a shoe sitting next to me and threw it across the room at the mouse. I hit the mouse, but he didn't move.

He was already dead... Just sitting there rightside up and all. (I'm just glad no one was around to see me stealthily throw my shoe at a dead mouse across the room.)

Laura said...

The last place we lived in got mice all the time. I want to say we caught about seven in five days one time. Gross! I make Mike take care of it all. I will not participate because it's all so gross haha.

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