For a brief period of time, we had a mouse problem in our house. It wasn’t that the house was dirty–we keep it quite clean. Rather, the mice were fleeing downhill from where they used to live, which had just become a construction site.
Being that we were located downhill from the site, our home became the obvious place of refuge for a handful of displaced mice that actually managed to make it the entire trip without becoming lunch for the birds that monitor the field. We put traps in the drop ceiling of the basement and worked to kill the mice. Before we knew it, they all appeared to be gone.
Then one day I was in the bathroom brushing my teeth and something in the lighting fixture above me caught my eye. I could see through the frosted glass just enough to make out the tan fur and the bare, pink tail.
“Sal, look!” I called to my husband, pointing at the little figure above me.
He came in to see what I was pointing at and gasped. “Raton!” he cried.
Quickly, Sal sought out a ladder and a bucket with the idea that he could tip the cover to the lighting fixture and capture the mouse in the bucket. As I suspected would happen, the mouse fled the scene the moment the fixture started to move; he disappeared to an unknown location within the drop ceiling.
Raton did not make another appearance until after Sal had returned to Mexico. Just days after I returned to the United States, Raton made his presence known.
Bolder than any mouse should be, Raton appeared from underneath the laundry room door as I sat on the couch. He scurried out, looked about the room, and then casually strolled around–taking periodic breaks to stand on his hind legs and sniff the air. I watched him for a few moments before calling for the cats. At the sound of my voice, he made a hasty retreat.
Immediately after this incident, it was decided that more mouse traps needed to be put in the ceiling. We must have put a good ten traps up there. It became part of a nightly routine for my father and I to check the traps for little Raton.
But Raton did not appear. After checking the traps every night for a month, we gave up and went about our lives with the idea that Raton had simply found his way out of the house.
About a month after we quit checking the traps, I was awoken by a horrible commotion in the middle of the night. I had been in a deep sleep, so I awoke with my heart racing and in complete confusion. For a few moments, I had no thoughts at all. Then I began to think that someone was breaking in; when I realized the alarm was not going off, I decided this was not the case.
Slowly, my eyes began to work and I started to pick up on shadows. One large shadow on my dresser looked large enough to be my cat, Ace. I thought perhaps he had managed to open the door, as he sometimes does, and knocked something over in my bedroom. I reached for my glasses and then turned on the light.
The black shadow was just that–a shadow–and not my black cat. There was nothing on my dresser. I looked to my desk–nothing. I looked to my chest–nothing. Then I looked at the floor in front of my electric fireplace.
Against good logic, my father had placed a mousetrap just inside a large hole in the drop ceiling where tubing for an air conditioner once was. That night, Raton had finally given in and went for the cheese, ending his life. He tripped the trap, which caught his head, and the force of the event flipped both him and the trap out of the hole. He hit my dresser and the metal fireplace before landing in a mess on my floor.
I then did what any good daughter would do–I went upstairs, woke up my father, and made him clean up the scene.