Swimming in Gasoline

There is a mouse haunting me in my room. This furry disease machine doesn’t call ahead before dropping by throughout the day. I am tense and skittish due to its perpetual yet hidden presence. A few nights back I was at my desk, feeling at ease, watching a documentary about a man being put to death. I viewed the film through eyeholes sawed across a Honey Nut Cheerios box I’d strapped to my face.

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Hello.

During the movie I twice seemed to see the tiny black animal darting under my door from the corner of my eye. I was on three caffeine pills and half a can of energy drink so couldn’t be sure if these apparitions were real or conjured from caffeine sickness and cardboard periphery. Prior to this I assumed my apartment was mouse-free. It appeared a third time and I was able to snag a good glimpse before it once again slipped away beneath the crack. I feared it would leap into my whole grain brain after envisioning my cereal head as a buffet. I knew I had to do something. I removed the mask and stuffed a towel under the door. These were the first of several precautions I’ve taken to rid myself of this horrid creature.

I’ve been using a pillowcase as a garbage bag and its been full of waste for a while. The pillow sack scraps include such things as soup cans, banana peels, and the discarded rags of loneliness. I threw the whole thing out to rid my room of its reek. Between this and the towel I was satisfied enough to go to bed that first night. I lied to myself thinking it was okay. Tried to put this fledgling, territorial war out of my mind. The sleep came easy and I rested unharmed. He probably watched me snore.

I saw him again the next night on my shelf’s bottom row. It’s built into the wall that becomes the hallway. He is very quick and silent. His fur disappeared from sight in a second. When I first moved in I inspected the entire room for possible mice intruder points. There was a gap between the lowest shelf and its back wall. This gap leads to the floor crawlspace that snakes between the outer hallway’s Sheetrock panels. I stuffed it with one of my few towels and thought I’d done a good job.

After seeing the mouse again it seemed as if he came in through the side of the shelf, just above the towel. It turns out there is a sizable gap between the shelf’s back and its rear corner of sidewall that leads into the hallway crawlspace. This gap runs upwards, the length of the shelf, which is roughly six feet. The shelf includes a separate level for each corresponding foot. I’m disappointed in myself for not previously noticing this portal that expels furry demons from the depths of a rodent Hell. I’m an atheist but there’s no doubting as to where the gap leads. Perhaps mice have their own gods.

I spent twenty minutes carefully stuffing towels and Target bags into four of the shelf’s six gaps. As I worked I spoke to the wall and banged it with a can in order to ward off the mouse in case it came out to bite. I don’t have enough towels to stuff the upper two gaps. I hope if he ends up that high he’ll find himself too scared to jump and so retreat to the coals of his underworld plane. At the very least I pray he’d break his legs on landing. If not he’d perhaps find me in my sleep and feel a thirst resulting from years of servitude in that fiery abyss. The critter might crawl aboard and sniff his way to my face. Sit on my forehead and pick at the lash-locks of two crusted wells. I don’t want my sleepy lids pried open for a mouse-demon, especially if he’s looking for a lick of moisture off my rolling peepers.

My shelf of mystery. The towels are stuffed in on the left side, the heating grate is at the bottom next to the shark, and the door leading to the hallway is beside it all.
My shelf of mystery. The towels are stuffed in on its left side, the heating grate whose noises are all too reminiscent of mice is at the bottom next to the shark, and the towel blocked door leading to the hallway is beside it all.

Ever since the demon entered my life I’ve been having imaginations — bizarre scenarios that invade my head. One involves me trapping him beneath a mason jar. I drill a hole through the top and sprinkle in rat poison like fish food. In another I corner him while standing high on a chair. I use it to roll around the room so I don’t have to touch my feet to the hardwood floor he treads. I grab my five foot standing lamp by its base. I tip the light toward the mouse and melt the creature to the bulb. I always envision him running up the lamp stem and biting me while on fire. I don’t care for that image.

These imaginations and fears aren’t new. I’ve had anxiety issues involving mice since childhood. The fear has lessened over time but still remains. Bugs and snakes never bothered me. Only these filthy rodents have ever caused problems. It started with seeing my cousin bit by one he picked up in our backyard. He had to get shots. My mother always told my younger sister and I to stay away from them, that they’re diseased. My sister’s fear of mice is much more severe than mine. I don’t know all her reasons. For me, I don’t like how they’re so small and quick that you hardly ever know they’re lurking. I wish they equaled dogs in measure. At least rats have the decency to make that attempt.

Seeing them in the past has caused me to jump on counters and shriek in fright. My anxiety is often stirred from something as simple as a mouse running across the floor. It induces within me painful and constricted breathing. I used to be unable to view mice on television without cringing and looking away.

In youth it seemed as if I was more prone than others to encounter the sickly things. This made me wary at all times. I developed methods to protect myself. Always watched for telltale signs such as unusual crumbs. If torn up food was found in drawers I would for weeks use long sticks or utensils to open and close the things. I also had to worry over the outside world. Two tin traps behind our garage acted as an ever-present reminder that the demons lurked both inside and out. I often cleaned dimly lit grain bins filled with rotten seed for my father. These rank conditions attracted the creatures. I always banged the bin with a broom before entering to send the mice away. I thought of it as a knock with reverse intentions on the door of a wild home.

Later on in life I started working at a gas station. A mouse appeared one shift. I jumped on a table and stayed there until it traveled beneath a shelf as customers waited. I put my pant legs over my boots and used a rubber band to hold the cuffs tight. This way the mouse couldn’t run up my limb beneath the linen. It did the trick to calm me. But I don’t know what defenses to take at my apartment.

I live in Minneapolis and have been in a new place for three weeks. It’s a big house inhabited by nine other strangers. My first night here I was walking back from the library. On the way I found a hobo’s sign and picked it up since I collect them. At the outer house door I used my key and the thing snapped off in the lock. I began fiddling around with this in the cold before realizing no one here had met me. Now a guy holding a hobo sign was using a pliers on the doorknob. It wasn’t the best way to start off in my new apartment. The mouse has made things worse.

I have the conundrum of disliking cats so can’t use nature’s demon catchers to rid myself of this thing. I’m unable to sleep in my car’s trunk due to the cold. I would rest on the couch downstairs but I don’t know these people and to my anxious brain it seems too forward and bizarre. I’d rather not explain my mouse fear to roomies I’ve barely met. The only person I’ve hung with is a girl who drunkenly knocked on my door one night. She said she is vegetarian and related to me a fascinating story.

She had an odd experience in India. A poor family hauled a dead woman to the beach in order to burn her on a funeral pyre. But these people couldn’t afford enough wood to light the corpse properly. My roomie watched this old hag slowly melt as a pack of wild dogs picked at her meat in front of the helpless relatives. She said the burning flesh smelled akin to a wet sack of Burger King, causing her to salivate. This didn’t register to me as bizarre. That same desire would arise within were I to be plated both a mouse and a newborn. I will always choose to gorge human meat over sucking the sinew off a rodent’s bones.

My roomie is studying to be a dental hygienist. She checked my teeth with her bare fingers. They passed inspection and are ready to chew on poverty stricken old women. This girl who visited my room also seems to hold the correct sensibility to perhaps be a moon worshiping witch. I’ve hoped she’d use her potion powers to kill the mouse or sway the thing to vacation in another room. I don’t mind if it eats everybody else. But the demon is still here, most likely crawling in my vent. I’d rather have a bear in my house than this witch-proof rodent.

The basement of this place is packed with mattresses and disgusting toilets. There are probably ten thousand rats living in those cushions and shit swallowing pipes. I was just watching a documentary about a Holocaust denier who builds the equipment states use to execute people. I could drain my savings and contract the dude. If he rounded up every earthly rodent and stuck them in my newly constructed gas chamber basement I’d never have to read Maus again. Until that happens I’ll continue checking my shoes for mice before slipping them on.

I’m slowly settling into my new home, yet it feels as if all comfort has been lost and my privacy permanently disrupted. I’ve grown paranoid over leaving the door unstuffed so stay in my room for stretches that last far too long. I’ve yet to reach the point of pissing out the window, but it’s still inducing unhealthy behaviors. I now look at the shelf or door hundreds of times a day, scanning for him. Lint fluttering within the heat grate causes me to panic prior to realizing it’s only fluff. I think I see the mouse in my periphery and then bark to keep the imagined creature away. I’m unable to sleep properly. The past few days I’ve stayed awake until daylight hours before crawling to my mattress in sleepy defeat. Prior to closing my eyes I point a lamp at the invasion points, feebly hoping this light will ward off lurking Hellspawn.

I worry about my Cheerios boxes on the shelf. Wonder if I’m sustaining the mouse in a heart-healthy way. I don’t want to junk the stuff. I’m very cheap and also protective of my cereal. As I traveled this past summer I kept an open box of Cheerios beneath my car seat. Ostensibly it was there so in case I saw a roadkill deer I could film myself pouring cereal on its head. This is a bizarre scenario I’ve imagined in my brain for years but know I’ll never carry through. The other reason for keeping the box was that I couldn’t bear to throw away two dollars worth of Cheerios. All summer they were carried through the country beneath my seat, forever untouched. They remain uneaten.

Despite these idiosyncrasies that leave me averse to improving my life, I’m taking every little step I can think of to win this battle. Although I normally reuse dirty dishes for up to a month without a washing, I gave every piece I own a solid scrub to rid away food bits that may attract the intruder. Felt especially worried about the filth of my only bowl since it seemed the mouse might jump in and confuse it for a lovely little nest. I have no desire to find a demon writhing in a saucer of goo that consists of soup, cereal, and spaghetti sauce.

I know the sensible thing to do is remove the shelf’s gap stuffing and lay out sticky traps. But I’m afraid of unsealing that six level Hellhole and inviting the intruder in. I either need more barriers or more traps. It has to be one or the other. Despite knowing this I’ve been trying out a third method that’s so far proven poor.

The ashes of my first dog are in a little blue box on the shelf. This container has been her home for twelve years. She sleeps on the second to last level, the first of two whose cracks I’ve not stuffed. After a decade of rest she’s been drafted into guard duty. So far she’s done little to scare off the intruder, refusing to give so much as a halfhearted bark, if only for her master’s peace of mind. Her days as sentry are numbered. Taking her place will be my childhood teddy bear. I’ve rated him as combat ready.

Meet Horsey. He is armed and standing guard. I’ve given him war literature to study up on. The topics of his books are survival, his weapon, and his enemy.

I also want to use a music machine as a mouse scarecrow that’ll live on the shelf. I lifted the idea from my grandpa who set a radio in his corn rows to keep away raccoons. Though the garden plot was somewhat far from his house he remained undeterred. He used hundreds of feet of extension cords to aid in the saving of his ripening ears. The old man employed wit and imagination to protect his space yet did so without causing harm. Since he’s passed on my uncle took his place. He uses traps and shoots the captured animals point-blank.

Every time I visit my widowed grandma she gives me updates on her missing cat who she believes was eaten by birds. She also tells me how many skunks or coons my uncle has blasted since our last chat. His method seems less humane than a friend of mine who mixed up coke and antifreeze near his dumpster to stop a raccoon who liked to munch garbage. After the hungry pest sipped the sugary poison at night he couldn’t walk away. Come morning my friend gave the animal a stern lecture on the immorality of theft. It seemed to work. The raccoon disappeared into the woods and never came back.

Even if this demon mouse displayed adaptive learning powers and promised to leave after my warnings, I’d invite my uncle for a visit before I would my friend. But ultimately I’d prefer to invoke my grandpa’s bones to help me pick out a playlist. Still though, I can somewhat relate to my uncle and his cruel animal harvest. There’s a moment in my life where I took the killing into my own hands. Where I acted as an immoral executioner of the enemy.

In high school two friends and I purchased a couple mice from a pet store with the intention of letting my new dog kill them. My friends knew I feared rodents and once woke me from a nap to hurl a dead rat at my chest. They thought them to be gross and worthless while I conceived of them as scary. So it only seemed natural for us all to want to watch these things die. I wish I could say it was done to overcome my psychological fear but really we were just young and heartless. We failed to think through the consequences and implications of what we were about to do.

We tried to let my dog eat our purchases but she was disinterested. That put the onus of death on us. We improvised. Since I was too unnerved to handle the creatures myself a friend plucked one up and dropped it in a five gallon pale. I tipped a red canister over the brim, pouring out a few inches of gasoline. The animal drowned. The other was slathered in gas from his brother’s pale and lit on fire. I don’t know who struck the match. Unlike the melting old woman, there was enough fuel to do the job. It ran down my driveway screaming. That poor creature burned in hell before it ever died.

As jaded as we were we still verbally acknowledged how horrific this felt. There was an innate sense of wrong contained within that sound we heard. We wished it all to end right then but the little bodies still had to be scooped up in a grocery bag. The wet fur and charred lump, laying in plastic that once carried food for my family, were proof of our disgusting fuck up.

I tied the bags and we threw them in someone else’s dumpster. This was done mostly out of fear of my parents finding the mice. But it was also so my new woof woof machine could never somehow sniff out the corpses and poison herself on their meat. I’m sensitive to this as my childhood dog died after getting into green rat powder. Perhaps this is why she’s done such a shitty job guarding against the demon portal on my shelf.

The death of those two mice is the sickest thing I’ve ever been involved in. For years I couldn’t see a rodent without eventually thinking of what we did that afternoon. From the window of my bedroom I could trace out the path taken by the burning mouse. The event is partially responsible for my adopting six years of vegetarianism, a lifestyle I’ve since dropped. To this day that animal’s shriek is a source of shame, albeit now muted. So when I think of killing this apartment mouse it’s not that I want to see it tortured. Though some of my imagined deaths for it are cruel, I would never enact them.

This is war but I just want it to disappear or die in an instant. Its in and out presence within my room makes me think crazy things. Things I don’t support. I would sometimes rather it eat off the hands of a strapped down Chinese orphan than ever make an appearance here again. That would be more natural than a burning. Every creature has to eat.

Since reading 1984 I’ve thought hell for me would be wearing a body suit of clear tubing. In this live mice who skitter the pipes at all times. Their presence forever pings my senses. My hands would be amputated and replaced with canning jars. Each holds a pregnant mouse whose spawn chew and chew until they can tunnel up my arms and breed in my lungs. Perhaps that will be my eternal penance in the rat god Hell.

This terrorizing bastard in my room has given me a glimpse of that foreseen afterlife. His demonic master surely relayed what happened to their cousins a decade back. He’s fireproof and determined to exact retribution. I know he can strike at any time. So now I’m the one sloshing in a gasoline bucket. These fumes of fear make it seem as if drowning in this Hell haunted room is perhaps the best outcome. If I tap out now they’ll likely reward me with one less mouse in the tubing. But even if I resist I can probably only last so long. I’ve been coated in the fuel and now I’m just waiting for that match to drop.

I truly feel like I’m fucked no matter how this plays out. If someone snags him in a glue trap I’ll likely never hear about it. If I see a dead mouse there’s no way to know if it’s the one that haunts me. No way to know there aren’t a hundred more crawling up through the walls toward the portal. So every night I’ll just shine my lights, bangs my cans, and woof my woofs. I’ll hope this horror might ease and in time fade from memory. With luck the dissipation will continue until I regain my normal life. It could take weeks or months or until the expiration of my lease. Perhaps I’ve swallowed too much gasoline already.

Once I use the last of my towels to stuff the cracks I’ll have to air dry after each shower. I hope the demon won’t see my naked body and become aroused. I wouldn’t blame him if he did. He might make way to my genital sack and swallow an egg. Perhaps curl in a ball and live there as the missing piece. Guzzle my cum and let its pregnant boy belly grow. Expel its babies as I blast into some unknowing woman who smelled of cheese. At the rate I cum the earth might end up repopulated before Christmas. So start the prayer chain, folks. Make sacrifices to the rat gods. Have faith they’ll call off this fallen angel. It’s for the best. You’re not gonna wanna breastfeed my progeny.

                                                                                                                                                                

I can be reached via commenting below.

Here’s a video I made while wearing the Cheerios box and watching the documentary about the man being put to death:

Cheers!

24 thoughts on “Swimming in Gasoline

  1. I like the way you tackle expression. A little indelicate for my taste, but it’s not about me. 🙂 It’s about the writing, and you write well – and you hold interest. I mean what if they told Ginsberg his writing was indelicate… oh wait… they did. Anyway, your writing is solid.

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    1. Best be careful in case your parrot self gets hungry and spots mouse you. I appreciate the kind words and am glad I was able to make you laugh. My shoulder is ready to be stood on if you remain in bird form.

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  2. Since I got back home from NYC I’ve been terrified of the furry ones (they know when we are talking about them, better be careful hahaha). Here in our place we would joke about how ugly pictures could be strategically placed to drive them away. Or dead, depending on the degree of ugliness. Thanks for liking my poem, genetically modified person. Nice to meet you.

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  3. I’ve never had mice in my house, but I’m a strong disliker of cats, too, so if I ever do get mice I’m not really sure what I’ll do. My pug probably wouldn’t make a very good mouse hunter.

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  4. Hey there, you liked one of my blog posts so i popped over to return the favor. Quite a read over here. Packed with such insight and experiences, I was reading about this mouse yet I didn’t know where the next paragraph would take me.

    May i offer a harmless suggestion that is inexpensive? In home improvement stores like Home Depot , they sell this can and it sprays out foam that hardens into a seal. It’s like 8 bucks and it will permanently seal up all and any cracks. But first, go to your supermarket and look for peppermint oil. Line your room with the peppermint oil , you can even soak cotton balls with them and stuff that into the cracks in your wall. Rodents and instincts cant stand the smell , it will drive them away and keep an invisible fence around your room.

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    1. I was already thinking of buying foam sealant but had no idea about peppermint oil. This is great to hear. I’m going to douse the entire state of Minnesota with it now. Thanks for the advice and for reading.

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  5. Sticky mousetraps are a very inhumane and hellish way for a creature to die. Try the haveaheart traps. Not to freak you out but if you see that one mouse there are probably more in hidding. Mice breed very fast. Also, while it’s true that they carry disease, the real danger is in their droppings. Their jaws are quite weak and even when frightened they have a bit of trouble breaking the skin. (As someone who used to have to deal with unloading large quantities of pissed off feeder mice into cages while working at a pet store, I have been bitten more times than you can imagine.)

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  6. I’m fairly old school, being old enough to at least be your mom, but I still liked the writing. Such a talent! As for mice, you may just have to make friends with them if you are in an old house. My guy tore out the kitchen sink, plugged up holes, and we still get the buggers. The peppermint oil does work to some extent, although you will get sick of the smell of it, and have to keep soaking the cotton balls. It has a certain ‘je ne sais quoi’ of flavor-memory, as if you lived in a candy factory. Our mouse kept getting into the vitamin and OTC drawer, and chewing up pills. Once, for an entire day, we heard him banging around behind the sink, partying his tiny, buzzed brain out. You always hear of this happening in other people’s families, but to have your own mouse turn into a druggie…. They often will just come out, see my six foot two son, and just wait for him to capture them in a hat, or something. Then, he takes them outside and releases them into the wild. I call him the ‘Mouse Whisperer’. However, you have to turn them loose in a strange neighborhood, or they just come back- I decided never to use a mouse trap again after I saw the blood and poor little body in one up in our country home years ago.

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  7. A mouse got into our house after being injured by a cat in the neighborhood a few weeks back. My mom, youngest sister and myself leapt onto nearby furniture screaming like banshees for my dad. For days, I heard and saw things. And to make matters worse, our cats were by the front door and didn’t do anything. Basically, I feel your pain.

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  8. Brilliant writing! I can so relate as I have had mice repeatedly and used the salacious buffet of 32 different scraps of cheeses, imported meats and then with 3 layers of playtex living gloves, and two sets of tweezers, I roll the cheese around the little D-Con pellets. All the while I have the buffet inside a safe house. Once he enters, he cannot leave.
    As some mice are known to eat the d-con and then die in the wall.
    I feel I should see the dead body as he has been hiding long enuf!!!

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