Maybe it was the wind that was strong and harsh that morning, but as I was carrying the body out to the garage, his tail seemed to wiggle. Was it my imagination fevered by guilt? Nevertheless, it had to be done.

I dropped Mickey and the trap that killed him into a separate plastic bag, one that had contained an expensive bottle of wine. I thought it lent a modicum of dignity to his departure.

How was I so sure it was a “he” and not a “she,” a Mickey and not a Minnie? Don’t start with me on that.

I hate killing anything. I sweep spiders out the window, despite her screams to “KILL IT, JUST KILL IT!”

“I don’t have to kill it. I’ll just pick it up with a tissue and …”

“KILL IT OR IT WILL COME BACK,” She screamed as she fled the room.

I wasn’t always so humane. As a young boy, I would seek out the occasional roach or spider and joyfully smash it into whatever part of eternity insects share.

In the summers, I stalked the corridors of the house and lurked by the window with a fly swatter, waiting to smash errant flies, and even made a body count to show off my marksmanship. This was all, of course, before I discovered girls.

This changed for good when serving in Japan I met a Zen bartender at the infamous Cherry Bar down an alley in Tachikawa, who spoke of an order of Buddhist monks who would have a novice walk ahead of the group, sweeping the path with a palm frond, so as to avoid accidentally killing an ant.

As I remember, it had something to do with “transmigration,” as in “You may have derailed a soul’s journey into the next life.” I can’t swear to the accuracy of that. I was drinking at the time.

But that was a long time ago, and my attention span has always been short. So over the years at many a picnic, I have probably curtailed the transmigration of many a soul. I hope none of that goes on my permanent celestial record.

From time to time, when I remember any of this, I make an effort to open the screen and free the fly and let the occasional journey move on.

But mice, now that’s another story. Left to the fates, multiple “Mickeys” can do great damage in the house, as in chewing wires in the attic and burning down your abode.

I suppose we always had mice but never paid any attention. Well, we have them now.

Forced to derail the “trans plans” of our bed-and-breakfast visitors, I’ve sought help at the local Aubuchon Hardware, where the associates recommended simple traps.

I’m not a fan of those cheap dime-store traps and, on occasion, have caught my own fingers. So my friend John at Aubuchon suggested small black plastic traps called “Jawz.”

There’s the name right on top of the slayer: “JAWZ.”

(I wonder. Can mice read? Because that’s a frightening logo.)

If you’re interested, here’s how it works: You put a dab of peanut butter on the place for bait (Mice seem to adore creamy peanut butter; crunchy or extra crunchy is optional), pull the plastic tab back and lock it in. Bam!

My brother told me that in combat training, they tell you that the first kill is hard, but after that it gets easier. They’re wrong.

Mickey was my first. In the middle of the night, I heard the crack of the black plastic JAWZ. I lay there in the darkness for a while, resisting the urge to go down and say a few words over the deceased.

Come morning, I made myself visit the crime scene.

Spoiler alert: If you’ve ever had a pet mouse, you might want to stop here.

There was little motionless Mickey, his head buried by the jaws of JAWZ, his tiny white feet and gray tail sticking out.

Since then, I’ve interrupted the transmigration of five souls and await with dread the arrival of Mouse Karma upon my soul. I can hear his brethren now singing in the basement.

“There’s something happening here

What it is ain’t exactly clear

There’s a man with ‘JAWZ’ over there

Telling me I’d better beware.”

With apologizes to Buffalo Springfield.

J.P. Devine is a Waterville writer.

filed under:

Augusta and Waterville news

Get news and events from your towns in your inbox every Friday.


  • This field is for validation purposes and should be left unchanged.