Of mouse and man

It’s hot outside, I’m hot, the dog is hot, the backyard plants are hot, and that reminds me, I need to water them. But not until it cools down, around dusk, say. Then that luxuriant jungle of exotic flora will get a soaking and gratitude will beam from the firmament.

A heat wave they’re calling this. It’s only 93 degrees right now but, coupled with sopping humidity, it feels like cruel triple digits. Within a minute of stepping below the blazing skies and into the muggy soup you break a sweat, rivulets down the cheeks, puddles in the small of your back. It’s disgusting. Right, this isn’t New Delhi or Bangkok, but still. Anyone who says they like this weather is either a liar or a twit or both.

Speaking of delightfulness, I recently destroyed a mouse. I did not want to, but my conscience got the better of me. So I held it by its gummy-worm tail and dunked it in the toilet and held it there until it drowned. It took fewer than two minutes, if that. Still, it made me kind of sick.

Why such horror? Thank the accursed cat, the tubby charcoal-gray tom with the white Hitler mustache. There he was, playing with a squirming, grievously wounded mouse, brown with a pink belly, in the dining room. It was the natural world in action, a realm Woody Allen, noting the pitiless animal food chain, dubbed “an enormous restaurant.”

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One might applaud the cat for capturing and maiming a crafty little house mouse, a ravaging rodent. I’m not giving ovations. I’m known for protecting and pampering animals, a latter-day St. Francis sans the amazing tunic, sneaking the dog table scraps and keeping sweet, smart rats as long-term pets. I rescued a baby squirrel from the maw of a snarling cur and a mauled bird from a godless outdoor cat (the bird didn’t make it).

And so I snatched the writhing, oddly bloodless mouse from the cat’s paws, carrying the creature by its silken tail. I wanted to save it, take it outside and let it scamper to freedom.

It scampered, but sideways, in a corkscrewy dance, clearly in pain and despair. It got away, crippled, ruined. I went back inside, crestfallen, wishing I had put it out of its misery. I figured it’d be out there, suffering a slow death for hours, maybe days.

Hours passed before it struck me to go and look for the mouse in the summer blaze. I promptly found it. It was motionless, hopefully dead. But when I touched it, it spun again in corkscrews, its whole body knotting in pain. This would not do. I pinched it by the tail, took it to the bathroom and snuffed what was left of its tiny life.

It was fast, but horrible. I held it moments longer than necessary to make sure the poor animal was out, gone. Then I carried the still, matted body back to the yard and set it behind the shrubs and covered it in mulch. I only wish I had done that five hours earlier.

These things aren’t simple. Even a mercy killing is troubling, against my nature. Pesky vermin — big deal, you say. Big deal, you bet.

Yet there’s no moral here. I don’t like what I did. Not one bit. But I’d do it again. In a heartbeat.

4 thoughts on “Of mouse and man

  1. Poor mouse, but I don’t blame you for putting it out of its misery. I can’t even deal any more with how hot it’s been this summer in a virtually air-conditionerless country. I barely sleep because my bedroom is so hot, then I get the hot airless bus to work, sit all day in a boiling hot museum, and then get an even hotter bus back to my stuffy flat. We usually only have hot weather for maybe two weeks out of the summer, but this year it’s been sustained for a good two months. I think the heat is finally breaking, and I can’t wait!

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  2. I’ve read about the awful UK heatwave, and they always show pictures of crowds enjoying the weather like it’s a delight to sweat and swelter. I’ve never understood it. I lived in Texas for years and it was a daily, year-round torment that finally had me fleeing the state. I sympathize with your hot ordeals. Summer is the worst. Fall is coming!!!

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  3. It’s hot hot hot here and I love it.
    It’s easy to love it when you freeze 8 months of the year, and enjoy the use of ac, pool, and convertible.
    As for the poor mouse, I’m glad you did what you did. I suppose I don’t have enough sympathy for vermin but I dislike cruelty. Last week at the cottage my little Yorkie found himself a mouse, and dispatched it. He’s only 6lbs himself but Yorkies were bred to be rat catchers, and I guess his nature got the better of him. In fact, at the cottage all my dogs seem to be a little more beast. They love prowling the land, exploring things on their own, having a bit of freedom. It’s sweet. Unless you’re the mouse.

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  4. I’ve done California and Texas so I’ve had it with hot. I totally get it being a treat for you, and I do understand those who like it. (Sort of.) I love your dogs already. Sounds like they have the life! (A cottage? That sounds so exotically rustic and cool.)

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