Thursday, April 24, 2008

A battle of wits

There are many old stories which describe a battle with a difficult foe, the triumph, the subsequent celebration, and then the dawning horror of realisation that the victory has merely encouraged a worse enemy forward. In the Iliad, Hector fights and kills Patroclus, believing him to be Achilles. Achilles, grieving the loss of his close friend, kills Hector, ties his body to his chariot and drags it around the walls of Troy. Beowulf, in his story, rips off Grendel's arm provoking the wrath of Grendel's Mother, who visits his hall and decapitates his most trusted warrior. In the film Piranha II, the fish grow wings and attack people from the sky.

And so it is with The Family. I trapped and killed Hunca Munca, a mouse who had been living in our kitchen rent-free. Having since discovered there was another mousy lodger, I have been putting the trap out each night with no success.

To recap, the trap is a black box with a hole in one end. The hole leads round a couple of corners to two metal plates on the floor. You put the bait by the plates and turn on the electrics. The mouse enters the hole and treads on both plates completing the circuit and zapping the mouse. Because we have inquisitive children I have been turning the trap off during the day and putting it in a cupboard. I doubt the charge is enough to seriously harm a toddler, but it's not the sort of bet I'm willing to stake my daughter on.

So each night I have been arming the trap and putting where we have found rodent evidence, each morning de-activating it and putting it away out of reach of small hands. After several days of this, Il Capo has begun to doubt my ability as a manly mouse killer.

"Put some new peanut-butter in it", she said, "The old stuff's been in there a week, it doesn't smell as much."

"No", say I. "I'm not using up all my peanut butter on a bloody mouse."

"It's not your peanut butter, it's The Family's peanut butter."

"I don't care, I'm not giving it all to the mouse", I say, reaching for the peanut butter and unscrewing the lid. "Look, it's half empty already. He's probably been in here, unscrewing the lid." I get a paper towel to wipe the old peanut-butter out of the trap, open the trap and... the trap is empty. When I checked it in the morning it was con peanut butter, sin mouse, now it it sin peanut butter as well. My furry foe has been ignoring it when it was live but gobbled it all up when the trap was disarmed. I point out the implications.

"So it's been on the counter, during the day?" Il Capo is appalled.

And so the battle enters a new phase. We move from night-time traps to a twenty-four hour assault. Non-stop trapping, up on the counter away from little hands, near little paws. The only problem is that yesterday the mouse ate a chunk of peanut butter as big as him and probably twice his weight. I doubt he'll be hungry for a while.

No comments:

Post a Comment