The Most Humane Way To Kill A Mouse
Part II – Melbourne
My next rodent infested house was luckily so messy no one really noticed that we had rats. Once we all moved out, the house was renovated and they found an entire rat civilisation just below the surface of all the trash. Apparently it was quite a well organised society, they put us to shame.
Following that was the mouse saga of my dilapidated, possibly haunted Melbourne sharehouse in Coburg. I was living with my precariously drug addicted boyfriend who I will call Barry for the sake of this story, and our bong-smoking, grocery-stealing, hippy queen Kat. Kat was definitely the boss, but she also had a lot of really tough shit going on in her life and it was easy to forget that she was just as bung as everyone else and that she couldn’t fix everything. Barry was useless in most situations except for spending all his money on drugs and needing to be fed. I’m writing this with the bitterness of getting older and knowing better, but at the time I was very sympathetic and just wanted to help him and have an interesting life. We found our house on Gumtree, our landlords were semi-affectionally nicknamed ‘MickMark’ because we had no idea who we were dealing with, their contact was so sporadic and confusing. No one showed up to the viewing to meet us so we called ‘Mark’ from the listing on Gumtree, he just told us to break in round the back and see if we liked the place.
$400 a week, four bedroom, no bond, paint the walls? Smash the windows? No problem, the whole place is coming down as soon as all the paperwork is in order.
When we moved in we discovered that someone had ripped all the copper pipes out and none of the plumbing was working. We bathed in an ice cold spray from a broken pipe out the side of the house. We went to the local pub, the Moorland Hotel if we thought we might like to do a poo that didn’t have to be flushed with a bucket of water. We spent days trying to contact Mark, to no avail. In the meantime, Kat called upon the hordes of hippies lining up to do her bidding and along came Marty the Feng Shui plumber. I didn’t like him at all, there was just something about him that put me off, but of course the other two were seemingly wild about the guy. With Kat I could never tell if she genuinely liked someone or if she had detected the value that a good relationship with them would award to her team. She was always looking out for good eggs and good opportunities. Barry was just an atrociously bad judge of character. He was just so taken with the concept of ‘Feng Shui Plumbing’ that he was instantly irritatingly keen on old mate Marty. It turned out that Feng Shui plumbing was garden hose and cheap metal clampy things in place of copper piping. We were invoiced $400. I was unimpressed, scratch a hippie, smell a capitalist.
Then a guy called Mick texted us about the plumbing. Turns out our landlords didn’t really understand a lot of stuff about landlording and straight out refused to reimburse us the $400. The plumbing situation later deteriorated into an electrical hazard. Every time we showered we had to make sure to stand on a rubber flip flop on the floor when we touched the tap. Failing to do so would result in an electric shock strong enough to make it momentarily difficult to remove your hand from the metal tap.
The house was basically a swamp, it was definitely housing some weird juju and French people tried to squat in it. One morning I was lying in bed watching gossip girl when I heard a little ‘yooo hooooooo?’ at the door. Begrudgingly I dragged myself out of my nest and went to the door wrapped in my doona. ‘Hello! This is a squat yes?’ As I opened the door the French were immediately within the doorway, heads eagerly surveying the interior of the house. ‘Our squat is down the street but we just got kicked out today’, eye contact is made and they silently wait for me to invite them to join our squat. ‘Uh we actually pay money to live here’. The French faces are cast with disbelief and I close the door and crawl back to the bed to write a Facebook post about what just happened.
Here is the front porch, possibly what led the French to believe our palace was a squat. We later got in trouble for this because apparently it was a hazard for people driving past, they were too impressed by how cool and edgy our house was that they forgot to drive properly.
And here is a snapshot of the ‘Black and White Room’. MickMark were so taken with our wall painting efforts that they brought their families around unannounced on Christmas Eve for an ‘art viewing’.
This house ended up becoming very He Died With A Felafel In His Hand-esque after Barry and I moved out. Kat and the new tenants hatched a plan to get out of paying the rent. They created a very unreliable, very irresponsible and very unreachable housemate called Dylan. Dylan was always stealing all the rent money or skipping town when the rent was due. Knowing that MickMark were incompetent and that we had already made such a huge mark on the house, there was no way they’d ever find new tenants. Dylan’s fictional betrayals escalated and many a dollar was saved by the savvy Kat.
I realise I have digressed from the all-important mouse theme, but it’s crucial to set the scene. This house was different from my other sharehouses, it was a bit gross and it was a pretty messy but there was no chook bucket and Kat was pretty good at reigning in complete chaos when she wanted to. There was something deeply rotten in the house and I think that gave the incoming mice population some kind of dark power I had never experienced before. Upon reflection, I am not even sure that I won this war, I guess I made it out alive, that’s something.
One of my best mates, Staz came to live with us for a while. This was very good for me because even though we were both a bit munt and scummy, we were also just way less bogged down by ourselves than the others. We could find fun in any situation, playing the recorder through a nostril, cheesecake, photos of Jennifer Aniston, spying and most importantly, mouse hunting. Of course I boasted about the tried and tested box and stick method but when put into practice, we couldn’t catch anything. These Melbourne mice were way too wily. We experimented a lot, most notably we tried out a bucket placed under a cardboard tube, balanced artfully so that when a mouse went into the tube to get at the peanut butter bait inside they would tumble down into the bucket and be trapped (see diagram).
We actually caught quite a few mice using this method, however there was an unexpected complication, the mice KEPT JUMPING OUT OF THE BUCKET. We saw it happen! We toyed with adding water to the bucket but, alas, we just weren’t ready to kill, despite my having thrown a mouse off a bridge. Eventually we got one mouse before it jumped out of the bucket and proudly traipsed off down the street to release it in someone else’s garden. Then things went a bit dark.
Staz moved out and Barry and I kept having terrible fights that were largely me getting upset because he kept taking shit loads of drugs with reckless abandon and then complaining about his terrible mental health but also refusing to accept that the drugs were making the situation infinitely worse. After discovering he cared so little about what I thought that he had he used my phone to try to buy heroin I decided to leave for a few days. I went to stay with Staz in a nice mouse free zone. There was a chlamydia ridden galah at her house but that’s a can of worms I ain’t opening right now. After a few days hanging out with semi-sane people Barry eventually started sending me nice texts and seemed to be in better spirits so I deemed it safe to return home. I was working fulltime at a shoe store and it was definitely better for my routine to live at my own house. When I walked in the front door and wandered into the lounge room I was surprised by how much darker and danker the house seemed. Something weird had gone down and I didn’t much care for the vibes I was picking up on. There was a tent in the middle of the lounge, entrance pointed towards Barry’s ‘office’. His office was a damp little room tacked onto the side of the house where he kept his computer, hid his drugs, picked old bits of weed out of the carpet and sometimes pissed in buckets to avoid interacting with the outside world. Barry heard me enter the room and his head suddenly appeared at the office door at a horizontal angle, blonde hair blasting off in all directions and brown eyes glinting with religious fervour.
His long body followed his head in one big long, clumsy slither and his story was in full swing before I even knew what it was about.
There had been a serious mouse offensive, otherworldly in fact. The humans no longer control the space, hence the tent of course, it’s the only safe haven, we’re sleeping in the tent tonight it’s the only safe option. It all started when he was squatted in front of his computer, no doubt contemplating some kind of complex and unproductive programming endeavour when he felt a presence in the room. He turned around and discovered a gang of mice staring at him. There was a moment of silent acknowledgement before the mice struck. They had formed an arrow head formation and charged the unsuspecting Barry. Outnumbered and terrified Barry kicked out wildly and ran for his life. Realising that he could never win this round, he set up his trusty tent and bunkered down for the next few days waiting for his treacherous girlfriend to return and listen to his wonderfully dramatic tale and maybe cook him a nice hot meal.
Not sure what to believe about the humans vs mice situation, I spent that night in the tent not wanting to become a victim of the arrowhead formation. I quizzed Kat the next day about the war that waged within our walls and she seemed largely unconcerned. I made Barry pack up the tent.