Then I saw a flash of shadow, darting under the front door.
Then, one night, I saw it long enough to realise what it was.
It's not an easy thing to admit to the wider world that one has a mouse in the house. It's something of a poor reflection on my standard of house-keeping. Now that I know my parents read this blog, I fully expect a judgemental yet slightly confusing email from my Dad's Palm Pilot, stating that if I only went to bed earlier, none of these things would ever happen to me.
Not to mention the fact we're in a second floor apartment - hardly what you'd describe as a typical mouse hang-out. Obviously our mouse was an urbane mover and shaker, one of the hip vermin groovsters normally found snacking on boccocini at a James Street cafe, or catching The Adventures of Despereaux at the Palace Barracks cinemas.
After realising that I was not, in fact, having a lend of him, The Wah named the mouse Mr Squeaky.
A week or so ago, we found him in the back of the fridge:
He'd found a cosy little cubby hole, and was in there nibbling on an errant pasta shell.
The noise was deafening.
The noise was deafening.
We tried to capture him, but the little bugger was fast. He dashed out of the fridge and shot past our hastily assembled barricade of cushions and laundry baskets. The Wah then turned the lounge room upside down attempting to outflank Mr Squeaky with the kind of military precision General Montgomery would celebrate with a G&T and a fat cigar:
No luck. Mr Squeaky had foiled our attempts at capture - he was the Tom to our Jerry. Or Jerry to our Tom, I can never remember which is which.
We gave up, and considered the mouse trap option. Despite his vegetarianism, The Wah retains the Hard Edge required to embark on homicidal missions against rodents. I, however, am a Complete Coward, and wondered if we could just capture Mr Squeaky and set him free to roam in a park near our house, but far enough away to discourage his return.
Fortune smiled on us a few days ago, when we came into possession of a proper humane mouse trap, and set it up near the fridge with a few sultanas in it. The next morning brought no news; the trap had snapped shut but there was no Mr Squeaky inside. That meant either the trap had been set off by the overnight vibrations of the Westinghouse, or we were facing a very clever adversary indeed.
Last night, I saw the now-familiar flash of grey fur, and called out to The Wah that our Mousey Moriarty had returned. He soon heard a rustling in his beloved Bat Cave, and moved heavy bookshelves and filing cabinets out of the way to try to find Mr Squeaky. Before he knew it, the critter had zoomed out the door, and straight into the spare bedroom.
Curious, The Wah attempted a impromptu capture attempt, throwing pillows in front of the doorway to prevent an escape, as Mr Squeaky buzzed round and round the room. After a few seconds, Mr Squeaky disappeared, leaving The Wah confused and intrigued.
At this point my preparations for bed were interrupted. "Nat, come here - we have more mice!"
You may, at this point, be able to see where this story is headed.
I poked my head around the doorway, still buffered by pillows and doona covers. The Wah had lifted the entire double bed onto its side, revealing a bundle of ruffled white paper, and something else:
That's right. It turns out Mr Squeaky was, in fact, Ms Squeaky. Hard-working single mum of two little baby mice. Despite the two flights of stairs, she had chosen to give birth in our apartment, carefully constructing her nest out of toilet paper. I don't really want to think about where she got it from. I still can't decided if I'm a little heart-warmed by her feeling secure in my home - or revolted by the whole process. I think maybe I'll just try to ignore it all.
People are just never going to talk to me again, are they?
But all of this complicated things. Our simple plan to catch and release Mr - sorry, Ms - Squeaky didn't take into account two babies, still blind and reliant on their mother for survival. We could have picked the babies up there and then, but with Ms Squeaky still in hiding somewhere, we decided to replace the bed, turn out the lights, and hope she might come back, so we could attempt to capture them all together.
This evening we spotted Ms Squeaky again, so we know she's still around. We've reset the trap, and really hope she'll take the bait this time. Because we can't leave two baby mice in the spare bedroom. For one thing, I'd like to get in there to do a massive clean before I lose the last remaining piece of house-keeping respect my mother has for me.
And secondly, their eyes will open soon, and the next thing you know I'll have inner-city trendy mice raiding my cupboard for cous-cous and soy & sesame water crackers, and demanding we watch At The Movies re-runs on ABC2.