Sunday, October 09, 2005

Of Mice and Men

There is a dead mouse somewhere in my apartment. I think it is in the kitchen. I decided this yesterday when I noticed a rather disgusting smell in the kitchen, a smell that was strongest in the area nearest the sink. I looked around in the cabinets below the sink, hoping that the mouse would be in there, but couldn't find it. So I have spent the better part of today pulling the refrigerator (which is next to the sink) and the stove out from the walls in the hopes that the mouse would be under one of them. Unfortunately, I didn't find any stinking corpses there, so the only object in the kitchen under which this mouse could hide its decaying body is .. the cabinets. Since the mouse is nowhere to be found inside the cabinets, this means that its rotting body is located in the two-inch space between the bottom shelf of the cabinet and the floor.

Well okay, unless it crawled inside the refrigerator wiring to die.

Of course, this space under the cabinets is impossible to access without a powersaw, a crowbar and, possibly, a hammer. Of all these tools listed, the only one that I own is a hammer (for those of you who are curious, my hammer is purple with white daisies painted on it. It was the only "style" of hammer sold at my local hardware store when I first needed it, so stop laughing at me). Even if I did own all these powertools, I suspect that the landlord would be rather upset if I started sawing up the cabinetry in my humble abode. So this means I have to somehow locate the building "super" (most buildings in NYC have a superintendent who acts as a building manager and general handyman) and convince him to do the deed for me or, better yet, pay a carpenter to come in to tear out the bottom shelf of the cabinets, remove the mouse and then replace the bottom shelf of the cabinets. Depending upon how extensive the demolition is, this could end up being costly, ranging from quite expensive to exorbitant -- none of which I can afford.

Besides that, I can already visualize a man shaped like a potato on toothpicks showing up in my apartment, his shirt rising high over a swollen belly, pants barely clinging to his rotund ass, trying to engage me in casual conversation while alternating between picking around in a bucket of fried chicken parts and poking greasy fingers at my birds. I imagine that I would barely resist the urge to throttle him before managing to direct him towards the source of my, er, problem. Then, after catching a whiff of my problem, he would settle down in front of my kitchen sink like a christian in front of a crucifix and begin his work using a deafeningly loud powersaw. Then, just as in a tacky movie, I would watch his jeans in transfixed horror as they slid down his furry rump like a migratory creature, achieving precarious lows and giving me a repulsive view of a Really Huge And Hairy Ass Crack, making me realize that there are one or two things in this world that are worse than remaining single for the rest of my life.

But I digress.

One should not forget that this is a holiday weekend too, and most self-respecting carpenters tend to disappear on holidays, leaving the city at the mercy of the scam artists and the demolition experts who are only too happy to charge top dollar for the priviledge of victimizing a desperate populace. Perhaps not coincidentally, my particular building "super" tends to disappear on most days of the week, holiday or not, so he's absolutely worthless for this and most other tasks (for example, after living here for two years, I am still waiting for the building "super" to install a deadbolt on my door).

(Oh, and incidentally, did I mention that I just remembered that I forgot to pay my rent for the first time ever in my life because I never received the customary invoice from the building "super" to do so? Oh gawd, I am doomed.)

The mouse that is decaying in my kitchen is a small part of a veritable invasion. Ever since my apartment building was sold at the beginning of June, thereby leaving the capable hands of Jeff, the former landlord, passing into the grasping clutches of the evil money-grubbing Scott, the current landlord, our problems with domestic pests have abruptly and dramatically increased. After a noontime fire destroyed all electrical wiring on the block on one of the hottest days of the year this past summer, my neighbors and I spent most of that night on the sidewalk instead of broiling in our darkened apartments. Despite the language barrier, we ended up talking and comparing notes while watching the ConEdison Emergency Response Team fix the damage. I practiced my Spanish. And we learned that all of us have been suddenly bedeviled by huge numbers of these urban pests.

The way I see things, these pests comprise plagues that rival those described in the bible. It all started at the end of June, when there was the plague of small black flies that covered the white apartment walls with their seething hairy bodies. Then in July, as the numbers of flies diminished, the plague of cockroaches began in earnest, mirrored closely by the plague of mice. The plague of cockroaches was apparently discouraged by the extreme heat this summer, but the plague of mice progressed nicely and is just now reaching its plateau. During the past month, I have captured an average of five mice each week on the sticky traps that I place everywhere in my apartment. (I also occasionally capture one of my overly-inquisitive parrots with these sticky traps). Some days, my apartment appears to be command headquarters for the mouse invasion. Last Sunday, for example, I captured five mice in one day and I still managed to capture a few additional mice throughout the following week, with no sign of relief in sight (or smell). Additionally, and not to be outdone by the plague of mice, the plague of cockroaches is currently recapturing its earlier momentum and, in conjunction with the plague of mice, promises to form the basis for a truly miserable winter.

So here I am on my so-called holiday, scrubbing my entire apartment from top to bottom, moving every appliance and bookcase in the entire place, hoping to find the dead mouse so I don't have to involve any strangers (or money that I don't have) in this morbid little search. The smell of decaying flesh permiates absolutely everything in my apartment right now, so I am ready to lose my cookies while simultaneously stressing out about my unpaid rent and wondering how I am going to afford a $100 late fee. I still have the holiday to endure before I can even call anyone about this, and then, because I have to torture my students from the wee hours until 1pm on Tuesday, the chances are remote that I can convince either a carpenter or the "super" to help before Wednesday afternoon. By Wednesday, my apartment will almost certainly be uninhabitable, if not sooner.

And to think; I checked out four DVDs from the library so I could relax by watching them on my holiday!


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© 2004, 2005, 2006 by GrrlScientist

10 Peer Reviews:

Anonymous donna said...

You might try cleaning the disposal unit by pouring in some bleach. Mine has smelled like dead mouse on occassion....

12:19 AM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Thanks for the suggestion, Donna, but there is no disposal in this apartment. It is really a very basic apartment, only having a refrigerator and gas stove, and nothing more by way of appliances. This is a good thing though, because this means I have fewer large objects to move and clean under.

GrrlScientist

4:39 AM  
Blogger Greg P said...

It doesn't sound good...
One thing you have to ask is "Why did the mouse (mice) die?" When I have had dead mouse smell it was because a mouse had been caught in a trap I set.
Not to be too pessimistic, but you have to hope that someone in their unbridled zeal for mouse killing hasn't poisoned them with something that allowed them to crawl inside wall cavities to die. Very challenging to find them if that's the case. Of course, with winter coming, there should be some progressive dessication and the smell should diminish.

8:46 AM  
Blogger Rexroth's Daughter said...

What Greg P said, if you're smelling dead mouse and you didn't set a trap, then it may have been poisoned and has died in the walls somewhere. The smell should dissipate pretty soon. They're small creatures and it shouldn't take too much for the other creepy crawly things to devour it. A couple of days and it should be gone.
I'm a little concerned about the overwhelming nature of the smell. Could it be that a slightly larger animal has actually died in the walls? Rat?

2:17 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

We had a mouse climb up the dryer cord and nibble on the electrical contacts there. Only found him when the smell became appalling, but I was glad he didn't die inside the walls.

Lessons...

1)look everywhere for the dead things...even the fridge wiring
2)don't touch the dryer electrical contacts, which are completely exposed. Don't want to end up smelling like a dead mouse.

Rich
www.mossbackfarm.com/journal

4:01 PM  
Blogger GrrlScientist said...

Greg P; thanks for visiting and for commenting! I do believe that the mouse was poisoned. I think this is true because one morning, I discovered a dead mouse lying on the floor of my apartment .. less than in inch from where I typically walk -- barefoot -- on my way to the bathroom in the middle of the night. I am certain that mouse had been poisoned because there were no signs of foul (fowl?) play. That memory still haunts me as I imagine stepping on a dead mouse body in the middle of the night and crushing blood, guts and bones all over the bottom of my foot and the floor.

RD; well, it is Wednesday now and the smell has changed from merely offensive to truly barf-inspiring. However, the overall intensity of the stench is much less than it was, so maybe I will survive without having to pay a stranger to saw holes in the cabinetry, walls, floor, etc.?

Rich (anonymous); I thought about pulling the refrigerator out from the wall again to poke around in the wiring, but decided that I will pass unless the smell gets even worse. I know, I am lazy, moving the refrigerator isn't that bad, really.

GrrlScientist

11:01 AM  
Blogger Smilin' Jack said...

This all stems from your Bush-like insistence on mutilating your environment to suit your selfish whims. Get some nose plugs, relax, and let nature take its course. Soon you'll have a healthy ecosystem where mice keep the roach numbers down and roaches eat dead mice before they decay.

5:20 PM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I feel for ya! I'm going through the same thing for I figure a mouse has been trapped in the wall to die (from poison) - the sad thing is the smell is in one of my 3 children's room. I had the ducts/air vents cleaned and that seemed to help. Hopefully each day will get "fresher". Does any one know how long it takes a mouse to decay fully? Lise in Canada

4:19 PM  
Anonymous Allison said...

OH only a year late commenting on this..Firstly I hate Mice...(I personally blame walt disney for this!) I once had a sofa in storage for a month, when I got it back a family of mice had moved in and continued to breed for a few weeks until i tracked them down.. Have you ever seen the mess a sofa makes when it's thrown from a 5th storey window?? whats worse the mice were then seen scurrying from the debris.

7:30 AM  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

I just discovered a mouse(mice?) made a nest in my new sofa. Sofa was covered with a sheet so I haven't moved the cover for about a month. Will moth balls work? I'm an animal lover so I hate to use traps but I'm desparate! Please help to catch and deter future invasions.

2:19 PM  

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