Monday, February 1, 2016

A Mouse in the House

From 'Short Story Collection' by Hubert Crowell
https://www.createspace.com/Preview/1185744
Updated version, more stories added.
https://www.createspace.com/5472299



Short Story – Non-Fiction
Day one

I awoke early in the morning about 3:00 A.M. to the sound of stirring above the drop ceiling in our basement bathroom, the weather-had turn cold and had driven something into our warm home. We have lived in the same house for more than thirty years and have had only one mouse get in during the first few years that we occupied the house, so I was surprised. As I do most of the work or had in the past, I was sure that there were no openings that a mouse could get through but apparently I was wrong. Our parents live upstairs on the main floor and we now occupy the basement.
Over the years we have on two occasions, a squirrel that came down the chimney and at that time with a cat in the house it caused quite a scene with the cat guarding the fire place and the squirrel starring back through the screen. Before it was out the door, the squirrel ran down the hall and into the bedroom, bounced off the wall and then returned to the front of the house and out the front door.
The second squirrel came down the chimney after we had an evening fire or maybe during the fire. The next morning we could hear him in the chimney and he did not sound too good. Later in the day it got quiet and I knew that something had to be done. Chimneys' have a space behind the flue to prevent rain water from entering the fireplace and I assumed that must be where he was, dead I hoped. I put on a glove and tried to see if I could get my arm up and through the flue opening. After twisting and turning my arm, I manage to get my elbow up above the flue, now to find the squirrel. I was not sure if he was dead, but at least he was not moving.
Back to the mouse, we found mice droppings in the upstairs kitchen and a box in the pantry behind the stairs that had been chewed into. He had found his food supply. After cleaning up the mess all agreed that something had to done immediately. So I headed off to the closest store to find a mouse trap. Do you know how hard it is to find a mouse trap today, after checking four stores I finely located a package of two old fashion spring loaded mouse traps.
That night setting one in the kitchen loaded with fresh cheese and another above the drop ceiling in the basement bathroom, I was sure that Willard would not last through the night.


Day Two

Waking up again early in the morning to the same sounds and eager to see if we had trapped the mouse, I checked the traps, no luck, he ignored the cheese and went for the bag of potato chips in the pantry. Mouse droppings now left a trail down the steps and toward the washer and dryer located under the steps. After cleaning up the mess again, it was decided that a more serious plan had to be developed. Dad mentioned that they liked bacon better than cheese so that would be the bait for the night. Stuffing a sheet under the basement door and setting the trap at the top of the stairs, we retired for the night.

Day Three

About 1:30 in the morning I heard a loud noise on the steps and relaxed knowing that I had succeeded and won the battle. The next morning I was in shock, no mouse just blood about half way down the steps, soaked into unpainted wood, I had just rebuilt the steps and they were not painted yet. After about an hour of scrubbing and cleaning the search was on. I had to find that mouse. Two hours of searching with mirror and flashlight into every nook cranny and hole I could find would produce no mouse. The basement got a thorough cleaning that day. The only sign that I could find was a drain pipe that had the dust wiped clean in one spot at the furnace. We had the furnace replaced the year before and I could see completely around it and even with a mirror I was able to check under the tub in the adjacent bathroom. Now we had a different problem with a possible dead mouse to start smelling.
Just to be sure that he was dead, I set the trap again at the top of the stairs and blocked the space under the door.

Day Four

All was quiet, I was not sure if that is a good thing or not, where was that mouse?

Day Five

The mouse survived! Last night at the dinner table I prayed that the mouse would not smell, well the prayer was answered, he apparently recovered after a day of rest and was as active as ever.
Before we turned in for the night we decided not to take a chance and go ahead and block the space under the upstairs door again. I assumed that the mouse, if still alive would not be able to climb the stairs so I set the trap behind the washer in the basement. A little after midnight my wife placed her hand on my chest and said, did you hear that! Yes I hear the mouse above the ceiling stirring around again, he seemed very much alive. In the morning I found one mouse drop on the sheet that I used under the door and the trap was empty.
The best I could tell he must have been on top of the trap when it tripped two days earlier and it threw him up against the upright corner of the hand rail on the stairs. This would explain the blood splatters on the first step down with none on the trap or on the top step. That must have been quite a ride. I believed that he was wise to the trap and I would have to find a different type or maybe some poison.

Day Six

This morning was quite, and there were no signs that the mouse had been stirring around during the night. The night before, I placed four of those sticky traps, two spring loaded traps and crammed the sheet under the upstairs door again. I doubted that he had left and I thought that he might still be very much alive. Now this had become a test between man and mouse, the score is man = 1, Willard = 0. He apparently decided that the stairs were blocked and his food supply had been cut off. He had learned about those spring loaded traps. He could have been just laying low and waiting for me to give up. Of course there was always the possibly he had left, though I didn’t know how. We lived in a brick home that was quite tight and I knew of all the outside openings that have been made over the years and had checked them to be sure that they were still plugged. I would give him a few more days before giving up.
Our parents were ninety and ninety three, they both got around fine but Dad seldom went out. They attend church on Sunday morning by watching TV. We had gone to church and just before it was time to start, I received a frantic call from Mom. They had just finished breakfast and she was straightening up the pillows on the built-in bench at the end of the small eating area at the end of the kitchen. She told me in a strong voice to come home as soon as church was over and take care of this rat! She was in her chair and would not be moving until I got there.
It was hiding in the pillows, apparently during the movie the wife and I were watching, the mouse or rat went up the steps and into the kitchen and hid. After the movie I blocked off the door at the top of the stairs and went to bed.
I got the whole story when I arrived, Mom said it was the size of a squirrel and it jumped off the bench when she moved the pillows and ran into the living room, around the corner toward the TV console. I checked everywhere, and could not find a thing, not even droppings. I didn't think he had eaten anything in at least three days. By now we had placed all food into plastic containers, microwave, oven and the refrigerator. I had shuffled all the traps around, placing two upstairs and four down stairs and baited them with peanut butter. Phil, my son-in-law, said that was the best bait. Now we just waited again and the score is man = 1, Willard = 1.

Three in the afternoon

I managed to locate the rest of my family and joined them for lunch. Phil and I were not allowed to discuss the mouse subject. My wife, Kathy and I returned home around three and checked with Mom. She said that she had not been out of her room and had heard some noises from the living room. I started my search again, checking under all the furniture and any place I though a mouse could hide. One place I had not been able to check was under the TV console, this is an old oak free standing armoire that I had converted into a book shelf and TV console and it was very heavy. We had installed it in front of the seldom used carport door and I had sealed the door. This sat next to the kitchen door and between the TV and the kitchen we had an empty bird cage that stands about 3 feet high for decoration, it was about 4 inches from the wall at a slight angle. The TV console was about 3 inches from the wall and locked door.
I could just get my hand flat and with my fingers I could feel only the edge of the back opening under the console. I would not be able to get a mirror in a position so I thought about a small digital camera. With some difficulty I was able to take several pictures of the space and though they were slightly burry I could not make out any varmints.




Six o'clock that afternoon

I was down stairs on the computer and Kathy and Mom were discussing the "Rat," when I was told that I would have to get a bigger trap. With some disgust I headed off for Home Depot before they closed and purchased a large spring loaded rat trap. Loaded it with up with peanut butter and set it along the kitchen wall. We all settled in for the evening, Kathy was watching TV and I was back on the computer writing an article on Super bubbles in space.

Ten o'clock that night

I heard the upstairs door open and Kathy whisper to come upstairs, where we sat watching TV and facing the kitchen door, Kathy sets on the right at an angle to the door with the birdcage just blocking her view of the edge of the doorway. She saw the mouse trying to come out of the kitchen, but when it saw her it ran back. I was relieved as Kathy was calm and referred to it as a mouse and not a rat. I searched the kitchen and assumed that he must be under the refrigerator. Now that we had him trapped in the kitchen, I moved all the traps to the door way hoping to block his escape. Two small spring loaded traps, which he has learned to avoid, and four sticky traps about 5 inches long. The rest of the space in the doorway I blocked with a box.
Kathy called me up three times during the next hour. The light over the kitchen sink was on and she could see him come to the door behind the birdcage and then dart back. She was not sure now which direction he was coming from, the TV or the kitchen and she had only seen his head.

Eleven o'clock
The last time she called me up she told me to set down and wait he would show up. From where I sat I could see into the kitchen, so we waited. I guess he could see me and would not come out. About eleven thirty we turned out the lights, except for a night light that is close to the kitchen door and decided to wait a while longer. We did not want to spend another night with a mouse in the house!
We sat there for almost an hour, I dosed off slightly once and Kathy was praying that it would come out. As I sat there, I was trying to figure out what I would do when it did appear. Would it take the bait? Or would I have a chase on my hands.

Midnight

I could just make out a dark form at the edge of the birdcage, he was coming from the TV and he looked larger than I expected, the birdcage bottom is about two inches high and I could see part of his body over the top. I did not move and Kathy could not see him due to the dim light. I watched as he slowly moved out to inspect the spring loaded traps, and then along the doorway blocked by the sticky traps. He was not taking the bait and I still could not make out his size, but I was now convinced that it was not a small mouse!
I moved my arm slightly and he darted back behind the birdcage. I froze again and waited, he again returned to inspect the door way. Kathy had not seen him and we both were thankful. He was hungry, bold and ready for food. We heard a crash and sliding noise as he slid across the kitchen floor and under a shelf that I had built. We jumped up and turned on the lights. I ran into the kitchen to try and catch him when I realized that he was as big as my fist with his body at least five inches long and a much longer tail. He had one foot stuck in the sticky trap and it prevented him from getting through the opening behind the side of the homemade shelf. I could clearly see his head and body on one side of the board and his tail, foot and trap on the other.
There are those times in life when God sends us help, even when we don't ask for it, and I sure was thankful for the help now. I ran back into the living room trying to find some way to get hold of him without getting bit. I spotted the tongs on the fireplace and grabbed them, heading back to the kitchen. With one quick motion I reached for his tail with the tongs, which have only a very narrow grip on the end, and to my amazement I had him by the tail! He was squealing all the way to the front door.
I left him to figure out how to get that sticky trap off of his foot and hoped that I had seen the last of him. Now I am asking God to show me how he got in and where to look for holes, or could we have left a door open for a short time? Man = 2, Willard =2 and free.

Day Seven, The Rat is back!

Kathy called me at work, and said that the rat is trying to get in. He was climbing on the front window sill and looking in! Is this Halloween? The date was October 30, 2006, this was beginning to sound like one of those horror movies. I should be careful what I pray for, I was about to be shown how he got in.
While we were talking on the phone she heard a crying noise in the chimney and we feared that he may be in there behind the damper. I guess we upset him when we threw him out. He had lost the sticky trap and was now bolder than ever.
I headed for Home Depot again, this time for the strongest rat poison I could find. I checked the damper in the fireplace and found that I had left it open all summer. That is most likely how he got in the first time, and now we were not sure if he had already returned. I found a mirror and tried to look behind the damper, but it was impossible. All was quiet in there so I closed it and placed the poison packets all around the house. I now had a deep appreciation for this rodent and his determination, He was deserving of the name I gave him. I guess the score was now man = 2, Willard = 3.
Around ten that night Kathy called me back upstairs to check out a noise she heard in the kitchen, one of the sticky traps was turned over and in the middle of the floor. We started the watch routine again and we sat quietly in the dark for over hour. I remembered an old wire trap that I had in the building out back, that was about ten inches wide by eighteen inches long and had a door on each end with the bait on a trip platform in the middle, and I set it up and baited it with the peanut butter, blocking the remaining door opening and waited again. Kathy retired around eleven and I camped out on the love seat in front of the fireplace where I could watch the kitchen door way by the night light.
A little after one in the morning I dosed off and woke suddenly when something touched my right arm! I got a glimpse of something flashing toward the kitchen, it looked small but I was not sure if I was dreaming or not. I waited awhile to see if anything moved, then got up and turned on the lights, there on the carpet just before you enter the kitchen was a fresh rat drop!
Tired, I gave up for the night, moved the large cage out to the carport, cleared the doorway and went down stairs. Kathy informed me that she heard a scratching sound over the ceiling in our bedroom while I was upstairs. I went back up and re-baited the traps with fresh peanut butter, moved one spring loaded trap and one sticky trap down stairs, then retired for the night.

Day nine four in the morning

I awoke at four and all was quiet, but I knew that I had better check the traps, so I got dressed and went upstairs, turned the lights on and one of the three traps in the door way was missing, I search the living room and then the kitchen no sign of a rat or sticky trap, I could not believe it! Back in the kitchen and under a free standing cabinet, behind a potato jar was the trap up on its edge. It was a mess with hair and much more stuck all over it, but no rat. All of a sudden the paper around the edge a flower pot moved and I started looking closer. He was behind the cabinet with two feet on the wall chair rail and two feet on the back of the cabinet top. I ran for the fireplace tongs but I could not get to him, without him being able to get away.


I went and got the wire cage trap from the carport and set it next to the cabinet and blocked off an area so he would go into the trap. I then went to the other side and flushed him out. He ran down and into the trap and back out again before I could get the trap door closed. He headed to the back of the kitchen and under the pillows on the bench.
I proceeded to build another barricade across the middle of the kitchen with the wire cage trap in the middle open on both ends so he could see through and take the easy route. He ran right through the trap jumping over the plate that trips the trap and into his hiding place in the living room under the TV console. Willard had won again! Now that I knew where he was it was time for the poison.
It was five in the morning, so I made a cup of coffee, ate some breakfast, set the poison on each side of the console, turned out the lights and waited. A little after six I heard him munching on the pellets, I continued to let him eat for about 15 minutes before getting up. Now I had to keep him upstairs until Rid-A-Critter arrived. I found another hardware store that had a large plastic mouse trap that I could leave the front open and place water with more rat bait. It had a hidden spring that may hold his head in the trap. I set that up next to the opening along the wall with the other bait hoping he would get thirsty and go for it.

Two in the afternoon and help has arrived!


Jeff and Brandon with Rid-A-Critter were eager to take over. I gave them a brief history and showed them where Willard was hiding. They got their net, gloves, a three foot grabber and started to work. After about ten minutes of checking under the TV console with flashlight and mirror, they spotted him. The TV console had a brace in the middle that blocked my view so that I could see only less than one side at a time, when I would move to the other side the rat would move also, so I was never sure if he was under there. After we moved it away from the wall, they could get a good view of him. Now it started to get interesting as they tried to position the net and flush him out. After several attempts he escaped, ran over my foot and headed down the hall toward the back of the house.
Mom was in the bedroom with the door shut and Dad was in his chair writing a letter. He was under the desk, then under Dad's chair, up a lamp, across the book shelves and then back under the desk again. My grandson and I had the door way blocked and they're sure was a lot of excitement in that small room.


He got into the lower drawer of the desk and as they were taking the items out, he moved out the back and up to the next drawer.
When they removed the middle drawer, he moved up into the top drawer until there were no more drawers to hide in.

With the glove hand they finely caught him. Out of the house at last. In the bed of their truck, he looked harmless enough still and dead, or so we thought, thinking they had left I glanced out the window to see them scrambling around the back of the truck. He had come back to life!