Death by Slipper

That's it! I've done it! I am a killer... I think?

Perhaps I should back up and explain. Next to my house, on one side, is a building that was once a dry-cleaning plant. Its current use as a storage facility for fishing gear and equipment has made it an attractive abode for mice. As the weather turns colder in fall, these little rodents begin to look for more comfortable lodgings in which to spend the winter months. By the way, I can assure you that I will not run from a mouse. I am much bigger than these little critters and I do not like them invading my territory.

Over the past decade or so I have evicted a number of these unwanted tenants - by way of traps. And there have been a few near misses as well. Like the one that was caught only by a paw and I did not want it to get away. I prepared the way by opening all doors, leaving an unobstructed path to the bathroom, making sure that the toilet seat was up. Wearing a pair of gardening gloves, I very carefully picked up the trap and fast-walked to the bathroom. Next I lifted the bar of the trap, letting the pest drop into the toilet bowl and bit it farewell.

Another near miss happened in the flour bin. Our kitchen cabinets were built at a time when many families bought flour in 25-pound sacks which were then put into flour bins for easy access. Instead, it now held the smaller seven-pound flour bag, an extra bag of sugar and generally a large bag of rolled oats. When I discovered that unwanted dinner guests had been visiting the bin, I laid a trap in the bottom. The next morning after I got up, I knew by the sounds that something alive was in the bin but was not in a trap. Now the problem was - how do I get it out of there without losing it? This was a time to think outside the box.

Once more I prepared a clear path to the bathroom, with the toilet seat up and ready. Whatever I used had to be small enough to fit into the bottom of the bin which was narrower at the bottom than at the top. So I grabbed an empty shortening tub and a piece of cardboard. I slowly pulled the bin open and there it was, unable to get out because it couldn't jump high enough to reach the top. I quickly trapped it underneath the tub and then eased the cardboard in under the tub, effectively trapping the nuisance inside the tub. With one hand holding the top of the tub, I carefully slid my other hand under the piece of cardboard making sure to hold it tight against the bottom of the tub. When I had the tub out of the bin and between my hands, I practically ran to the bathroom. Holding the tub over the toilet, I moved the cardboard, letting the trapped victim fall into the water - and sent it on its way.

After a couple of years with no uninvited vagrants, I found evidence again of at least one setting up residence again recently. A trap took care of one but I suspected there could be more so I kept the traps out. Then, several days later I was doing a computer jigsaw puzzle when I caught a glimpse of movement out of the corner of my eye. I looked and there, bold as you please, was Mr. Mouse, creeping across the floor. Something about it didn't look right though. It was moving very slowly and practically dragging its belly on the floor. Moving very slowly and quietly, I set aside the computer and removed one of my slippers. It must have heard or sensed something because it literally froze beside the old wooden rocking chair. I made two steps, wacked it with the slipper and it fell over onto its side. Using a paper towel, I picked it up by the tail, carried it away and gave it a burial by water.

Now I wonder if I really killed this one. Every food source in the house is in sealed containers, unless it's in cans or in the fridge. There was nothing for the little varmint to eat. So I ask myself: was it perhaps dying of starvation? Was it dying of old age? The weather had been mild for a few days so it might been outside and eaten some sort of poison. Did it actually die when it stopped or was it really death by a slipper?

© Fay Herridge
Published in Canadian Stories, Jun/Jul 2021

Non-fiction 1

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