Of mice and men.

by Pseud O'Nym

The other night we were sitting down to dinner when Joe suddenly, in one fluid movement, reached down to the table, grabbed a beer bottle lid and threw it at a mouse in the kitchen. Yes we have mice, a situation none of us are exactly happy about, but not all of us take pity on a mouse because of whatever and feed it. Well they did until my mum was visiting one day, saw the mouse, and did what any girl raised on a farm in rural Ireland would do, which is kill it. She thinks they’re vermin and given that they have uncontrollable incontinence – so they shit and piss everywhere – breed prodigiously and are thoroughly disgusting in every way, I’d have to agree.

But then I would. My room is next to the kitchen. That kitchen, the one where the crumbs are, the kitchen that the mice eat their fill in at night, that one. I know they do because I can hear them scuttle about, sometimes knocking things over whilst they keep me awake with their scavenging. I’ve asked politely that my housemates not leave crumbs out, but honestly, when there are veg boxes with food in lying on the dining room floor, well, you can understand why I wrap my duvet up around me like a sleeping bag at night.

So Marge’s solution to this is that she bought some mousetraps. Well, she calls them mousetraps. Not what I would call a mouse trap though, you know ones that actually work by enticing the mouse with some food and then a lever snaps shut, breaking the mouse’s back, killing it instantly.

According to their website ‘ The Humane Mouse trap allows for the easy catch and release of rodents without harming them. The trap is sanitary and animal friendly and can be re-used.’ Well that’s a huge weight off my mind that they’re animal fucking friendly. Am I missing something here? Just to be absolutely clear here, because I’ve got brain damage and I might’ve got it wrong? You catch the mouse. Then you take it somewhere far away and release it there? That is the gist?

To my mind, this is nothing more than sub-contracting out the actual killing element. The probability is that they’ll be unable to adapt to life in the wild and will be killed by another animal slightly higher up the food chain. It’s like the debate over tuna that was caught using nets “Don’t eat the tuna!’ ‘Why not?’ ‘Dolphins are caught in the nets used for tuna fishing and die’ ‘What about the tuna?’ ‘Fuck them, they taste nice.’

Joe then bravely suggested getting an air pistol, to solve the problem. Marge wasn’t massively enthusiastic about the idea of an brutally effective method of pest control but I was dead keen on it, actually. Because, as it turns out, I’m a rather good shot. Of course I would say that, given as how thanks to my brain injury I no longer have any fine motor skills, meaning nobody can prove that I don’t but I do. I know. And how do I know?

Some years ago I went on holiday with my American girlfriend to America and we stayed for a bit with her sister in New England. Anyway, one evening the sisters husband was taking apart and cleaning a rifle on the kitchen table, and seeing the look of horror on my faced, asked me how I felt about guns. The Guardian would’ve been so proud of me, every liberal, right-on, mung bean cliché about guns I could remember poured out of me. He sat there, impassive, as all my wrongness contaminated the room. When I’d finished he asked ‘Have you ever fired a gun?’ Again with the diatribe! He cut me off with the totally uncalled for ‘Would you like to?’ What a thing to ask!

So the next morning we headed off to the woods behind their place, which to someone who’d seen loads of movies seemed like the kind of woods that two people go into them, but only one come’s out. But Chuck – that’s a good American name because I forget what his was – quite happily trundled an enormous  suitcase full of guns and other things that go bang ever deeper into the woods, while I thought, ‘I’ve seen ‘Deliverance’ and I don’t want to squeal like a pig.’ Chuck eventually decided that this was the spot, although in truth it looked no different to anything else we’d passed in the last few minutes. ‘Perhaps,’ I thought ‘this is where he buries the bodies?’ But because you’re reading this, it’s clear that it wasn’t.

Obviously that’s somewhere else in the woods.

Instead he opened up the suitcase and if Marge had been dismissive of the air pistol idea, one can only imagine her reaction if she’d’ have seen its contents. Remember when people see the contents of the suitcase in ‘Pulp Fiction’, it was like that, only the reverse. It was like he was planning a small war, and misinterpreting my look, he said ‘She won’t let me buy anymore.’ There were handguns, a couple of rifles, a pump action shotgun – wicked! – and a proper hunting rifle, like in ‘The Deerhunter’. If there’d have been an Uzi or an AK47 in there I’d have been well chuffed and no mistake.

He talked me through all the boring safety things, while I just wanted to shoot things, he just went on and on, never do this, always do that, and I’m nodding away, pretending to take it all in but thinking, ‘Yeah yeah whatever, give me the fucking shooter’, in a Ray Winston way. Chuck had bought loads of paper targets and loads of ammo. Clearly we were going to be here for a long time.

The handguns were a bit disappointing, although nowhere near as disappointing as the pump action shotgun was. In the films it always looked to be the ‘go to’ weapon of choice, a statement firearm, the statement being that you weren’t messing about anymore, now you were serious. The rifles were alright, but the real star of the show was the hunting rifle. It had a telescopic sight, and that meant you could aim, I mean really aim. Because Chuck has had the good manners to bring some small blocks that he put on the targets, so that when you hit them, they exploded. Shooting at things that blow up! What next! What next! Oh please let there be something else!

But thankfully there wasn’t because it turns out that not only am – or rather was – I a good shot, but rather more worryingly I enjoyed it. Really enjoyed it. I could see the appeal, if perhaps you lived on a ranch in 1870’s Texas, but in the modern age. Mmm. Not so much.

But an air pistol? An air pistol? Well that’s completely different! It’d help with my hand/eye coordination, be of great  benefit to my fine motor skills as a loaded I pellets…