I have had a mouse in my car since late November. I started finding mouse crap around my center console about the time I was appearing in The Brand New Kid at the Kennedy Center. It was my habit to grab a fast-food breakfast on my way into work since most days my first show was at ten a.m. Now, my car is not a messy one – there are no piles of old newspapers, empty soda bottles and the like inside it – but I admit that I didn’t always remove the empty fast-food bags right away. In addition, my egg-and-cheese biscuits were frequently crumbly. As a general rule, I take my car to the car wash about once a month, to get it cleaned and vacuumed, but due to the craziness of my schedule during the holidays, I didn’t do it.
What finally made me face the fact that I had a mouse was when the creature started tearing up tissues in the car. I always keep a box of tissues in the car and the day I found one shredded up and scattered across the passenger side footwell, I realized I couldn’t deny the problem any longer. I confessed to John what was going on and appealed to him for help. We pulled everything out of the car and he vacuumed it from stem to stern. Besides the poop and the shredded tissues, we discovered that a nice fleece blanket that I keep in the rear cargo section had about a quarter-sized hole chewed in it. We also discovered that some extra paper napkins I kept in the glove compartment had also been chewed. We talked to Ralph, our mechanic, who suggested the mouse was getting in via the cabin air filters; we pulled those out (yep, more mouse poop) and cleaned them thoroughly.
We removed the napkins, the tissues and anything else that would be attractive to a mouse, and John set a half-dozen traps throughout the car. I drove around for two weeks with those darned traps and never caught a thing, and we thought: “Success!” Wrong. One day I was in a tearing hurry and ate a fast food meal in the car, being very careful about crumbs. The next day I discovered a few little poops around the center console again. All right, no more eating in the car.
Every time I thought the mouse had left and relaxed, I’d be reminded of its presence with a couple of tiny mouse turds. I’d replaced the tissue box in the car and it hadn’t been touched, but clearly I still had a hitchhiker. The last time I saw mouse poop was early this week, and I fussed to John that we still had a problem.
Today John came home for lunch, and before he went back to work we decided to do a little simple maintenance on my car – replacing the windshield wipers and the air filter. The new wipers were on and the new air filter in, and I was refilling the wiper fluid reservoir while John walked around to the other side of the car. Suddenly he jumped and said “WAH!” I asked him what was the matter and he pointed into the hinge of the car hood. There sat a mouse, bold as brass. It didn’t seem at all troubled as we made noises of dismay. We asked each other what we should do but could come to no conclusion; meanwhile the mouse gave itself a vigorous bath, visible but just out of reach. Suddenly John dashed for the house, telling me to keep an eye on the mouse. I finished filling the wiper fluid reservoir, keeping a wary eye on the mouse, which seemed completely unconcerned. A few minutes later John returned, with a sharp knife taped to a long stick. I backed away as he tried to skewer the mouse. It took a minute or two but finally he did it, and I could hear the mouse squeaking pitifully. “Get a plastic bag,” John said, and I went into the house to get one.
I came out with a Glad bag and John lifted his makeshift mouse lance from the bowels of the car. The mouse was well and truly spitted, but as John shook it off the knife and into the bag, we both realized it was still alive. I quickly sealed the bag and we put it down on the kitchen stoop.
“What now?” I asked John.
“Put it in the trash,” he said.
“We can’t do that. Kill it. It’s suffering.”
“I could stomp it,” John said, without enthusiasm. The mouse moved inside the bag. “It’ll suffocate eventually.”
“It’s in pain. Hit it against the wall of the house.”
John looked at the bag, then at me. He shrugged helplessly. “I can’t do it.”
I grabbed the bag and carried it over to the side of the house, shaking. I took a deep breath, swung the bag back and hit it as hard as I could against the brick wall. There was an audible crunch. I carried the bag back over to John. “I need to get another bag,” I said, “this one is torn now.”
“It’s dead,” John said but I was already in the house, getting a second Glad bag. John slipped the torn bag with its lifeless contents into the second one, sealed it and deposited it in the trash. I burst into tears.
An hour later, I’m still shaken up. Yes, I know that mice are vermin and carry diseases. Yes, I know that this one had no business in my car and was probably busy chewing up the wiring and God knows what else. And yes, I know that chances are quite good that it wasn’t alone in the car, either. But I’m still upset and unhappy. I didn’t want to kill it, but what were we going to do? If we’d managed to chase it out it would have gone right back in at the first opportunity – it had clearly made the car its home. We could have tried again to trap it or resorted to poison, but we had the creature right in front of us and it would have been dead either way. I think what has upset me the most is knowing that I killed something. I don’t have any qualms about killing bugs and spiders that get in the house, and I’ve killed mice in the past using traps, but this was the first time I’d ever killed something with my own hands. It was awful. The mouse had been lively and active, going about its mousey business, but it was in the wrong place and the wrong time and now it’s dead.
And I feel really bad about it.