Wednesday, January 14, 2009

Look For Me As You Go By

This is the story of the mouse that wouldn't die.

In total, I (along with my mouse-catching guru, Alex) have killed 20 mice in the past two weeks. Nineteen of the deaths have been quick, as they should be—a rapid snapping of the neck and the mouse feels relatively little pain. One of those deaths, however, is a painful and tragic tale of a mouse who refused to go step into the light. His tale is a tale I will tell now...in his honor.

I first heard the snap of the trap in the morning right before I was getting ready to go to school. Thinking nothing of it, I went to school, promising myself to check the trap when I returned home. Two hours later, I get out my headlamp and walk innocently into the kitchen ready to dispose of another peanut-butter loving mouse. Instead of finding a neatly killed mouse frozen by rigormortis, I find an empty trap on my kitchen counter top and a barely breathing, little mouse on my cement floor, surrounded in his own blood after both eyes exploded following the apparent impact of falling from ceiling to counter top to floor. Horrified by the sight, it's now me who is the frozen one. I can't move or think of a solution on how to rectify the situation in front of me. After several minutes, I conclude that it's been at least two hours since he's been like this and that he probably doesn't have much longer to live the way he's bleeding, so I'll just leave him and let him die in peace. As it turns out, his survival of the fall was only the first of many miraculous escapes from death because when I walked back into the kitchen an hour later, not only was he still alive, but now he was slowly and cautiously walking around my floor. “Okay. Okay. I'll just put another trap down. He'll have a good last meal of peanut butter, and we'll get this thing over with,” I think to myself as I put down another loaded mouse trap. The mouse, however, had different plans—plans of survival. He knew! The little guy knew! As soon as he sniffed the peanut butter that second time he walked straight away from it. My mouse-catching guru never told me what to do in this situation. Figuring that there wasn't really anything I could do to make it better, and knowing that I didn't want a blind mouse running around my house, I decide to scoop up the little guy in a bag and let good old Mother Nature take care of things outside. So, after gently relocating him in a nice grassy spot behind my house, I walk back, sit down, and call it a day...except it wasn't over; it so wasn't over at all. Two hours later when I go back to take a shower, what do I see but a little mouse, his face covered in blood, cowering in fear against my back wall. Somehow he managed to make his way out of the brush and through my shower drain just to end right back up where he started. It's at this point that I start to feel like some sort of terrible serial killer where my victims keep trying to get away but no matter what turns they take, they just end right back up in my murderous hands. It's also at this point that I start to feel so badly for this little mouse, and I start to feel a sense of admiration for his strength to have survived through some much...well, torture...up to this point. He is truly a survivor by any definition. However, the fact that he's a clear survivor isn't working in my favor, and I know that somehow I have to put an end to this little guy's life or he's just going to suffer. As before, I bring the loaded mouse trap to my back area and hope that maybe this time he'll take the bait, and end it all. But, just like the first time, he conscientiously steers clear of it. And so, I watch him. I just watch him for a good half hour as he bravely navigates the foreign land with only his nose as his compass. I sit there and admire him and wish that I didn't have to kill him. I sit there and wish that he had never gotten caught up in my stupid mouse hunt. I feel complete compassion for this little, surviving-against-the-odds mouse. I respect that even when he can't see any light at the end of the tunnel (literally in his case), he just keeps going because his instinct to survive, to live, is so strong. I start to think that this little guy is some sort of great metaphor for life: that no matter how rough things get sometimes, we've got to keep going, we've got to keep moving because there's always hope, there's always a light, even if it's so dark sometimes we can't see it. And, instead of thinking how I can end the mouse's life, I go back into the house and start looking around to see if there is a way I can help him survive. *Snap*. Not ten seconds into my brainstorming did I hear it. I turned on the spot, walked back out, and sure enough, there was my little inspirational mouse dead by the snap of my trap. I'm not sure if he finally got hungry and lost his caution, if he just accidentally wandered upon it as the loss of his senses undoubtedly began to fail, or if this was some sort of mouse suicide. Nevertheless, I was strangely overwhelmed with emotions from happiness to sadness. I hope that he is in mousey heaven now. I hope that I never have to deal with another tale like this. I hope that people understand the gamut of emotions that got all tied up with this little mouse. I hope that people don't think I'm too crazy.

Anyway, that is the story of the mouse that wouldn't die. The End.

7 comments:

loehrke said...

This is such a great story.....you had me from the description of the exploding eyes. Yikes!!!
The little guy sure made a good run at surviving.
I'm almost glad that you didn't have to see the final steps into the trap....would've been too hard to watch.
I think by writing this you've done what was necessary; you've honored a noble enemy by describing their valor and courage in defeat.
I'll never forget the little guy and I know that you won't either.
Here's hoping he's up in mousey heaven, surrounded by cheese and peanut butter with no traps in sight.
Love you, Dad

Judith A. Johnson said...

Well Dad cries because he can't talk to you at Christmas and I cry because of a mouse's courage. You finally got me. That tiny soul had a lot to offer, we did well to learn from him.
Love, Mom

Jon said...
This comment has been removed by the author.
Jon said...

Carly, I have a better idea, although is it admittedly somewhat after the fact. You should have shipped your little mouse friend in a shoebox back to your Aunt Nancy. I have never known her not to have pets around that are on their last legs, in serious need of euthanasia. She has a weird fetish in that regard. Would fit in perfectly.
Uncle Jon

Anonymous said...

Carly-
Another loving tail/tale - so well written with love and compassion. You must be a wonderful teacher. Your students are lucky -

Andrea (Alex's Mom)

Elizabeth said...

What a sweet (?) and tragic mouse story!

Just want to say my thoughts are with you and your fellow Peace Corps volunteers in Benin.

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