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For the past week, I have been playing the role of Ramar of the Jungle. The Great Hunter. He who captures fierce, predatory animals. He who stalks at night.  He who always catches his prey in the darkness. Well, sort of anyway. Kind of. It's really not that dramatic or courageous. Or fun. Not at all. Actually, I confess, it's about the mice. And catching them. In the house. And it's not my job. No. It's supposed to be Romietta the Cat's job.

Mice:

A mouse (plural: mice) is a small mammal belonging to the order of rodents, characteristically having a pointed snout, small rounded ears, and a long naked or almost hairless tail. The best known mouse species is the common house mouse (Mus musculus). It is also a popular pet. In some places, certain kinds of field mice are also common. This rodent is eaten by large birds such as hawks and eagles. They are known to invade homes for food and occasionally shelter.
...

Cats, wild dogs, foxes, birds of prey, snakes and even certain kinds of arthropods have been known to prey heavily upon mice. Nevertheless, because of its remarkable adaptability to almost any environment, the mouse is one of the most successful mammalian genera living on Earth today.

Yeah, successful. That means: you can hunt them 24/7 and there always appear to be more. And the more you hunt, the more you find, so the more you have to hunt. If you stopped hunting, stasis would return and they would successfully hide from you, and you could make believe that they weren't really there any more. That they had left. Well, at least so long as you managed to overlook the occasional small, black, hardly noticeable turd.

The hunting began after Romietta the cat decided to start a catch and release program in the house. She'd catch small wild, furry things in the fields and bring them home. Then if she didn't eat them, or if they escaped her clutches while she toyed with them, and it was hard for her to recapture them, she would lose interest. And they would remain in the house. Until she caught them again. Or until they left on their own. Or, worst of all, they would just stay. I've told this story before about how Romietta has been building a food pantry in the walls of my dwelling with her catch and release program. And how this is a betrayal. She is a cat and cats are supposed to keep mice from invading the house.  Obviously, she does not agree with this job description.

Last weekend, I was standing in the kitchen, and I noticed that I had an uninvited guest on the counter. A very fat, gray mouse. Evidently s/he sensed I was there, and decided immediately to scurry away, running across the counter, over the stove, and into the vent in the stove.  I was outraged. I thought seriously about turning on the oven and baking him/her into oblivion. But it was 90 degrees out, I have no air conditioning, and turning on the over was a very bad idea. My outrage, because my persona includes an action figure like Ramar of the Jungle, led directly to the hardware store, where I purchased the last remaining Havahart mouse trap. The last one in stock. Did that mean that the mice around here were on some kind of rampage?  

That's when my hunt began in earnest. The short: this morning I removed the sixth mouse from this house in six days. I took him/her across the field and released him/her. Yesterday's mouse was smaller, browner, more disheveled, and still eating the organic, crunchy peanut butter in the trap as I carried it out of the house and into the field. Today's mouse was gray and round and quite content to sit in the trap and ogle me.  Was s/he saying, "Nice job, Ramar, but I'll be back. You can catch me again tomorrow, when I have returned?"

That's a problem. These mice don't have voter id.  They don't wear name tags. They don't show their papers. I have no idea whether I have caught and removed the same one more than once. Mouse number 1 looked to me a lot like mouse numbers 2 and 6.  Mouse 3 and 4 looked a lot alike. I prefer to think I have caught 6 different mice, though that thought is extremely disquieting because how can there have been 6 or more mice in my house? I prefer not to think that I am playing a very involved game with two or three mice that has led to 6 captures.

Early this morning before I came to the kitchen, I was filled with hope. I hoped that the trap  wouldn't have a mouse in it. That I had caught all 5 mice, and that the siege was now over. Then I saw that the trap had closed, and that Mouse No. 6 was sitting in it. How very disappointing. The siege is not over. It is probably far from over. Who knows when, if ever it will end?

One other thing: this morning when I let Romietta the cat in after a night she had spent hunting in the fields and not in the kitchen, I invited her over to see what was in the trap. She could not have been less interested. I showed her, "Look, kitty, look, Romi here's a nice, juicy, gray, round mouse. Would you like it? I can give it to you if you want it." She turned her back and walked away. She went upstairs to take a nap.  This is what betrayal looked like this morning.

I'm committed to completing this hunt. Really I am.I am not running a mouse preserve.  And I'm going to try to talk with Romietta again. Maybe we should go to counseling together. Obviously, our relationship isn't working the way I'd like it to.

Note: No animals were hurt in the making of this essay.

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cross-posted from The Dream Antilles

Originally posted to davidseth on Sat Jul 14, 2012 at 08:12 AM PDT.

Also republished by PWB Peeps, DKOMA, and Community Spotlight.

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