I thought our mouse issue was over. After all, I found little Mickey (or maybe it was Minnie) dead on our carpet one morning last May.
But apparently Mickey and Minnie had procreated before they bit the dust because I walk in the door one afternoon in December and notice that the air in the house stinks.
“What is that smell?” Jack says as he pushes past me into the living room.
“I think something died,” I say.
“Gose!” Ben shouts. “Gose!”
And I remember Jack’s comment after the first mouse I found dead in our bedroom: “I thought it smelled like mouse.”
I sniff my way through the house, but I can’t find the source of the stench. I shine a flashlight under the stove. I pull out all the cleaning supplies under the kitchen sink. Nothing. Hours pass, and I stop noticing the smell, which is “gose” in and of itself.
The next night, as I’m getting into my pajamas, I realize once again that it stinks. I lean forward and sniff. Sniff sniff. Sniff. Yep. It definitely smells worse here. “I think something died behind our armoire,” I tell Doug, who is already in bed.
“Bother,” he says and rolls onto his stomach.
“Shouldn’t we do something about it?” I say as I get into bed. By “we” I really mean Doug should do something about it.
“Probably, but I’m too tired.” He refrains from saying that I am perfectly capable of cleaning up the dead rodent that may or may not be rotting behind our armoire.
I pull the covers over my head and try to breathe shallowly.
The next night, Doug comes through the living room with a flashlight.
“What are you doing?” I ask.
“I’m going to see if there’s something dead behind the armoire.”
“But the boys are asleep in there.” Both twins zonked out in our bed tonight. “You might wake them.”
“Thus the flashlight.” He tosses it from one hand to the other and disappears into the bedroom. I follow him. Jack, who’s been reading in the back room, hops up and follows me.
Doug kneels in front of the armoire. “I have a bad feeling about this.” He pulls the ironing board out from its place between the armoire and the wall and shines the flashlight into the recess. He makes a gagging sound.
“I want to see!” Jack says.
“No, you don’t,” Doug says.
But Jack looks anyway. “Ew!” He turns toward me and pretends to retch. “That is so gross!”
“Jack, get the dustpan, please,” Doug says. “And a stick.”
“Yeah, a fairly thick one. I’m going to have to pry it off the floor.”
I half-laugh, half-gag. Ben wakes up and starts to cry.
“It’s okay, Ben,” Jack says, “it’s just a mouse, and it’s dead. Stuck to the floor in its own blood.”
“Jack, really!” I say. He scoots out of the room, laughing.
“Moutz,” Ben sobs. “Moutz.”
“Shh.” I pick him up and carry him out of the room. “It’s okay. It’s okay.”
A few minutes later, as I’m bouncing and shushing Ben in the dining room, Doug comes out of the bedroom with the dustpan. “Out of my way! Now!”
I hustle Ben to the bathroom while Doug beelines through the kitchen.
“See! See!” Ben squirms out of my arms and runs after Doug. “See moutz!” I scoop him up as Doug kicks the back door shut behind him. “See moutz!” His eyes go wide and he nods at me sagely. “Moutz gose.”
“Yes,” I say. “The mouse was gross.”
Doug comes back inside. “Okay, that was unbelievably vile.” He shudders. Then he washes his hands and takes Ben from me.
I get a pair of rubber gloves, a roll of paper towels, and a bottle of alcohol and head to the bedroom. Jack helps me move the armoire and then holds the flashlight while I douse the floor with alcohol and scrub off the mouse blood. He makes repeated gagging sounds as I work.
“Really, Jack,” I say, “that’s not helpful.” But I’m almost gagging, too. I keep having to turn my head to breathe through my sleeve. I think this is almost the grossest thing I’ve ever had to clean.
Half an hour later, the furniture is back in place, Doug has transferred Luke (who slept through the whole mouse adventure) to his own bed, and my hands are washed (and washed, and washed again). As I climb into bed beside Ben, who is snuggled up next to Doug, I feel a draft. “Why is the window open?”
“Because I was about to asphyxiate on the alcohol,” Doug says. “I’m not really sure which is worse, the smell of dead mouse or your nuclear cleaning option here.”
“Moutz.” Ben sits up and nods at Doug. “Gose.”
“Out of the mouths of babes,” I say and snuggle Ben in my arms. I look at Doug. “Would you mind closing the window?”
“Sure,” he says, “just as soon as I can breathe again.”
I roll my eyes, pull the covers up over my nose so that it doesn’t freeze in the night, and hope to heaven that this really is our last mouse adventure. I’m almost out of alcohol.