The Saga of Chutzpah the Mouse
In Several Parts
This being the Sixth
Which follows upon the Fifth Part, wherein was told the tale of a gruesome death – a murther most foul – and wherein the protagonist was seized by pitiful Terror and gripped by awful Cowardice. Here resumes the Saga, wherein the reader is brought up to the present day and is discovered as to who really had the last laugh.
Weeks went by. Weeks during which we saw hide nor hair of Chutzpah. But nobody in this apartment felt like they had won. Ok, so maybe we had killed The Mouse. Or maybe it was yet another decoy. Honestly, I was past caring. I was numb to it now. All I know is, after what we went through, I didn’t want to go through any more. No more killing.
And then, one day, there he was. Chutzpah. We knew it was him. We knew it from the smug arrogance that dared to show itself in our presence. The other mice – the dead mice – never openly ventured out into the light when I or my roommate was around. Those mice1 managed to get themselves killed whilst we were out of the house or firmly ensconced in our respective rooms. They only dared to brave the mine-field of traps2 when their pathetic mouse-brains supposed themselves to be alone. But not Chutzpah.
No, not Chutzpah. Chutzpah, you see, would hang out in the corner near the couch. He’d be chilling3 behind the butcher block or around the stove4 as his fancy took him. And if we should chance to invade our own apartment to the disruption of his romps and frolics, he’d betake himself to his mouse-hole in plain sight, not giving a whit whether we saw him or not. That was Chutzpah.
Gone now are the snap-traps. Gone are the glue traps. Gone even are the “safe” traps, little plastic boxes with air holes and one-way doors. The sort of trap designed to hold the mouse only so long as until it can be safely released. These last were a vain hope, a futile attempt at humane relocation. But Chutzpah was too smart to ever get stuck therein, and so, at last, these too were mothballed.
“So you’re just going to give up?” My boss was not impressed. “You’re just going to let him walk all over you?” I tried to explain that we were just not willing to go through with the brutal butcheries of the snap-traps again. I tried to explain that Chutzpah was too smart for any of the other traps. I tried to explain that we weren’t proud of this, but that we’d pretty much resigned ourselves to the fact he was here to stay.
“I’ll bring you some poison,” said my boss who lives in the country. In the country, he would tell me, mice are everywhere. In the woods, in the shed, in the garage, in the basement of the manor house.6 I protested.
“And what am I supposed to do with that?,” I asked protestily. “I don’t need him taking the poison home and dying behind the wall. He’ll rot and it will smell and we won’t have any way of getting at him.”
“So?” My boss was not impressed. “Do you want him dead, or don’t you?” “I want him gone,” I answered. “He doesn’t need to be dead.” He looked at me, probably with disappointment, or else with a desire to get back to his real job. “Think about it.”
I betook myself home, whereupon the matter was dwelled upon. I was sitting in my room, when my roommate knocked upon the door. I didn’t answer. He knocked again. I didn’t answer again. He tried the door, which was open. “Why’s it so dark in here?,” he asked.
I was sitting in my chair. The lights were off. My hands were tented under my chin, fingertips touching, my eyes closed. “Umm, listen,” he said in a way that said you’re weird, but that’s not why I’m here so I’m going to ignore this. “I saw Chutzpah again today.” I sat motionless, offering no response. “Did you hear what I said? What do you want to do?” When I finally answered, I didn’t look up. I didn’t even open my eyes.
“I know a guy,” I said slowly. “He can get us poison.” My roommate nodded. And then he was gone.
The next morning I strode confidently into my bosses office. He swiveled his chair to face me. “So,” he said icily. “Have you considered my proposal?” I nodded. “And?” “I’m in.” “I thought you might be,” whereupon he opened his desk drawer and pulled out a small bag, placing it on his desk. “Just sprinkle some pellets where –,” he began to instruct before I cut him off. “I know what to do,” I said coldly as I reached for the bag. As I was about to cross the threshold out of his office, he called after me. I froze, without turning. “Good luck.” I walked out of the office.
That was over sixth months ago. In that six months, the poison has rested atop the refrigerator in a little plastic bag. There it sits, stockpiled like some weapon of mass destruction, perpetually “on the table” but with little threat of actually ever being used. Oh, we talk about putting it out. It’s just that, well, it’s a nasty business, isn’t it? And anyway, we’re decent folk, more or less. We have respect, a sense of community. Love thy neighbor, turn the other cheek, live and let live, don’t leave the toilet seat up, that sort of thing. As I say, decent folk.
Therefore it caught our attention one day, when one of our friends let it be known that he was having some measure of success in the capture and safe release of his own mouses. The first time he pulled it off, I’d figured he’d merely gotten lucky. But after the third time I allowed he might be onto something. Whereupon my roommate set out to treat with our friend and so learn of his methods and of his implements.
From this reconnaissance mission, my roommate returned with brand new state-of-the-art “safe” traps, and perhaps more important, advanced knowledge on how to use them. Needless to say, these “safe” traps have been in place for upwards of five weeks and have caught nothing. Indeed, they are so superlatively safe that they pose no threat even of provoking the curiosity of our venerable Chutzpah.
Whilst on the other hand, our friend has by now, if I’m not mistaken, caught upwards of five mice, all of which he has released to safety in Prospect Park. Whereupon have I come to believe one of two things. Either the mouses in Brooklyn are not nearly so smart as those in Manhattan. Or else, he’s got some breed of hipster mouse7 that is stopping by his apartment for a quick bite before getting intentionally caught so as to score himself a free lift to the park.8
And here we are. Every day or two, my roommate will move the traps to a new location, hoping against hope that curiosity will have gotten the better of Chutzpah. But of course it never does. Chutzpah, as you know by now, is the master of his emotions. He is bold, but he is cautious. He is daring, but not reckless. He is cunning, and his cunning is augmented by the sort of experience you can only get in the field.
It may be that one day we will abandon the safe traps, and with them, the last vestiges of hope vis-à-vis a peaceful resolution to this standoff. But that day has not yet come, even if it yet draws ever closer. We still have the poison, its siren call beckoning from atop the refrigerator.9 Yet still we stand frozen, lashed by hope to the mast of our little ship, wherein apparently I can do little more than make literary allusions to the Odyssey.
Whether one day we will succeed in trapping The Mouse, or finally relent and see to its ultimate demise, none can tell. But today, the score stands thus. Men: two dead mouses. Mice: two broken souls of men.
Thus has the reader been brought up to the present day, and likewise thus has it been discovered unto the reader as to who has had the last laugh. Yet the story ends not here. The story can never end, so long as Chutzpah the Mouse walks the earth. It may be that the Fates have long ago measured the string of his life. They may stand poised, even now, blade in hand, ready to cut. But they have not cut yet. And until they do, the last chapter of this Saga can not be written…
- May they rest in peace. [↩]
- Trap-fields? [↩]
- À-la the proverbial villain. [↩]
- He knew all the “hot” spots. #zing [↩]
- Was Chutzpah a communist? Well, he ate our food in common as if it was his own. He dwelled behind the baseboard radiator as if it were a sort of Iron Curtain. And once, I even think I saw him curled up in the corner reading a little red book. [↩]
- I have no idea how big his house is, but I know how small our apartment is. And given that he lives in the country and makes “boss” money, I assume his house is practically a mansion. Or a castle. Or a feudal manor. I should note, however, that I have very little idea of what goes on in the country. [↩]
- In either case, things really have changed in that part of Brooklyn. Time was, if you weren’t on your guard, you were likely to have a knife pulled on you by a rather nasty and drug-addled mouse. Granted, it would have been a small knife. But now they’ve all got kids, pushing their little strollers up Fourth Avenue, sipping their little lattes. Gods, I hate hipsters. Even the mouse hipsters. Especially the mouse hipsters. [↩]
- You might think that if they were in fact hipster mice, they’d not be looking to score a ride to the park, but would probably just ride their bikes. However, it’s a well known fact among people who study these things, that in the rodent community, it’s the gerbils and hamsters what do the peddling. Mice see themselves as above that sort of thing. They’re much more keen to get mazes sorted out. [↩]
- Or is that just the fridge’s motor running a cooling cycle? To be fair, they kind of sound the same. [↩]