So, because I’m a man, she asks me, “Will you come by and get rid of the mouse?
“Uh, sure. Of course.”
“Are you sure?” she says. I’ve already forgotten her name. I actually never knew it.
“I hope you don’t mind. My roommate is, like, freaking out over it.”
“Sure. No big deal.”
“And my boyfriend would do it but I’m not seeing him tonight.”
“Absolutely. Not a problem.”
“Are you sure?”
So we her friend Gabby alone at the with our wine and my personal items: journal, map, wallet. Not a good idea since I’d known these two all of 20 minutes. I consider myself a decent judge of character except when alcohol’s involved. I’ve been burned before.
Like the time in Brussels an Arab fellow wrapped his leg around mine and did a funny little dance with me. This didn’t seem weird to me. I just thought he was being friendly. After the third time, I was really into it. Until he ran off suddenly and I noticed that my wallet was missing…
But I’m not thinking about any of this. We’re walking down Queens Street and the Girl With No Name keeps thanking me, over and over. “This is so nice of you, oh my God” and so on. I’ve never visited Toronto so I have no idea if all women here are relentlessly gracious. I know she’s just being nice but there’s only so much gratitude I can accept in three minutes. Especially when I haven’t done anything yet.
She unlocks the door to her apartment – maybe three doors from the bar. It’s a discreet number sandwiched between two boutiques. Inside, her flat is spacious, the type of suite that costs people their children’s eyeballs in Manhatten.
“Nice place,” I say.
“I know! Isn’t it fun? The dead mouse is in her room.”
And indeed it is, in the corner, lying still on one of those glue traps, the flimsy platter types that toddlers sometime mistake as playtime toys, and wail like genocide victims when pulled from their chests.
This particular trap had attracted lint and what looked like human hair. I crouch down to pick up the dead mouse’s final resting disc but the mouse starts squirming and squeaking.
“Ah! It’s still alive! Look! See!”
“Oh my God, oh my god. You are such a trooper.”
The mouse keeps squeaking, trying to right itself off its side to no avail. It’s skin pulls with every thrust the mouse makes to escape and squeals in, what I assume to be, astonishing pain. It looks up at me. Squeaks. Eyes pleading.
“What are we going to do with this thing? Should we let it go?” I ask her.
“Let’s just leave it in the street.”
“And then what? Leave it for dead?” I say this in the stairwell and she opens the door, dusk light flooding in. The mouse and I squeal in unison.
I bend over to the leave the disc at the door of one of the boutiques – a fancy shoe shop, very classy.
“No, over here. In the alley.”
So walk four or five paces with the disc held out like it’s a platter and I’m a waiter serving Mouse a la Carte. A man notices and almost jumps out of his skin. Almost, but not quite.
“Ah!” he says.
“It’s okay,” I say. “It’s stuck.”
The alley is clean – too clean for an alley. No Dumpsters or hobos. No trash of any kind. It’s baffling. I set the mouse down as it gives one final pleading glance over its itty-bitty shoulder. I consider pulling it off with my fingers but the anti-rodent lobby has done a number on me. I’m scared it might carry malaria, despite the records showing no mouse has ever carried malaria.
But I still feel bad for the little bastard. “We should let it go. Do you have a stick?”
The Girl With No Name doesn’t say anything. She doesn’t acknowledge this query in any way, so we move on.
“Oh my god, you are such a trooper. Such. A. Trooper.”
So we sit down and I take a liberal swig of wine and tell Gabby the story.
“And those are supposedly the ‘humane’ animal traps,” she says.
I nod in agreement, but it gets me wondering how that’s any more humane than the traps that break their necks? Or killing it the old fashion way, with a boot or a bottle of shampoo? Letting it starve to death on a flimsy plastic disc is a cruel punishment for simply being a mouse in someone’s house. I wouldn’t like it a whole lot if the mouse did that to me; why should I treat it any different?
Later on, when I’m stumbling towards the hotel with my glass of wine in hand, a police cruiser stops me. They reprimand me, write me up. And I felt like that little mouse on the platter. Stuck and squirming to present my case to the powers that held my fate. The only difference is that mouse died that night and I slept in absolute luxury, with pillows the size English mastiffs.