Call him Rush. I did.
We met when I walked into the living room around midnight almost two weeks ago to douse the electric lantern I call a television and go to bed. Rush was on the table beside my easy chair dining on chicken bones I had left on a plate following dinner the second half of a Shop’N'Save roast chicken purchased and half-consumed the day before. I was already aware that wierdness was visiting my home before Rush and I made eye contact because the night before, I had set my plate on the floor beside my chair and the next morning found several chicken bones off the plate, randomly askance nearby on the carpet. I knew those bones had not walked off the plate, and I knew no ordinary mouse had done the rearranging.
During the first few seconds of our encounter, both Rush and I froze, each of us probably thinking, “What the HAY do I do NOW?” Then I verbally chastised the beast for being there and gesticulated wildly while commanding him to get off my frikking table. Then I went to the kitchen to grab a broom, fully intending to sweep him to death.
When I returned to the living room, it was obvious, Rush was not only a freeloading possum, he was a freeloading possum who understood English: he was gone. He remained gone until the next morning. In the meantime, I took a heavy hit from a bottle of Carlo Rossi Burgundy and went to bed. I closed the door behind me, made sure it was latched, so no chicken-eating Rush would be likely to share the bed with me.
The next morning about 7, as I approached the kitchen I heard a noise, and on entering saw Rush in a far corner of a food cabinet about two feet above my counter, hissing like a Tea Party member at a President Obama news conference. I had apparently left the doors open the night before, but how he jumped from the counter into that sparsely arranged cabinet is beyond me. Input from Facebook friends suggested I call the county animal control officer who could likely trap Rush and get him gone. I called and learned Sangamon County budget cuts eliminated wild animal removal from their services list. I called all three animal removal people in the Yellow Pages. The first to call back explained he could set some traps for $125. I declined. I explained to another who called back that I was going to trap him myself since the first fellow’s price was beyond my budget. For $125 I could eat for a month. I told him a friend had suggested I could rent a live trap from a rental store, and he cautioned me against this. “There are state laws that prohibit private individuals from disposing of wild animals without a permit,” he said. I told him I was just going to risk it. I called the Just Ask enterprise at Noonan True Value Hardware, and was told by the rental manager, he’d be happy to rent a trap for $13.80 a day, and all I needed was a driver’s license and a major credit card. I told him I own no credit card.
I had spoken with the store owner before when writing an article for Springfield Business Journal. Could I speak with Pat Noonan? The associate put me through quickly. I introduced myself on the phone, explained I had written about him before, that I was good friends with Kevin Panting whose father, I understood, was a major asset to that hardware store for years, and asked if there was any way he could rent me a live animal trap without my producing a credit card? I’d be happy to pay in advance in cash. “We do need a credit card,” he said. So I boogied over to a nearby Ace Hardware and bought two big rat traps.
When I returned from a productive afternoon at AeroKnow Museum at the airport, with traps in hand and cautiously entered the kitchen, I was astonished to see Rush in the same corner of the same cabinet! I placed traps decorated with Colby cheese, one on the opposite end of the cabinet and one in a corner of the kitchen where I would not likely step on it, but he might. Then I made sure doors to the bathroom and bedroom were closed. I wanted to keep him in the kitchen. And I had a decent evening.
Late in the evening I heard a crash or sorts which I supposed was Rush escaping the food cabinet. I didn’t bother leaving my office and looking. If he had been trapped, I didn’t want to watch his final moments.
Next morning it was clear things had gone badly for Rush. Items toppled to the counter and floor from his probably dragging himself and the rat trap around the kitchen suggested it had stayed with him. But I could not find the trap or possum! Were they in a distant corner or in a wall hole, destined to rot away and stink up the house? In late afternoon back from the museum I found the trap, minus Rush beside a living room chair.
Glenn B. Mouse who tried to eat at the possum's table and paid the ultimate price for his vanity.
I also discovered a mouse — I call him Glen B. and you can too if you like — had visited a mouse trap and suffered dire consequence.
Suggestions from friends on Facebook led to my buying a live animal trap at Big R on Dirksen Parkway the next morning. The smallest ones were on sale for $19.50; heckova deal. Back from the museum in late afternoon, I baited the trap with Colby and Peter Pan creamy peanut butter, and set it on the kitchen floor along with two cheese-baited mouse traps. I arranged a mouse and rat trap in a way I thought would have the smaller act as a primer, that it’s tripping would “steer” Rush to the larger trap, then into the live trap. I set the other small trap in the living room floor and the second mouse trap in another corner of the kitchen. I knew the mouse traps would not catch Rush, but if I could just BOTHER him, I would take some minor satisfaction from that. The rest of the evening went okay. With lights off everywhere in the house except the living room and my office where I was most of the time, there were . . . . there were . . . . noises. I knew Rush was prowling around everywhere but where I was. I knew he know more about where I was than I knew where he was. And I was okay with that. For the next three or four mornings a routine evolved. I’d arise, go to the kitchen for coffee paying close attention to where I stepped because I didn’t want to step on a sleeping Rush. In the living room and kitchen there would be evidence of his reckless wanderings: silverware from plates (with no significant food remaining) with last night’s evening repast on the floor, music CDs from a window shelf toppled out and onto the floor behind the television, things on the kitchen floor that had been on the counter when I had exited the room the night before . . . . it was all disconcerting because I was clearly dealing with a beast who had some size and muscle.
My only clue to the presence of a mouse in the house — and they have visited the house occasionally but not often — has been droppings on the stove top and in kitchen drawers and skittering sounds as they transit the linoleum floor in the dark kitchen as I’ve read in a quiet living room.
I had almost resolved to buy a larger live animal trap as I hit the hay Monday night. A customer at Big R had suggested that the smallest trap might be too small for a small possum because his long tail might keep the trap door from closing, and he’d be able to back out after taking the bait. As I considered this in the dark, fading fast toward sleep, I was jerked to full alert status by a significant THUMP in the kitchen. . . . . then two more lesser thumps. “I’ll investigate after sunrise,” I said to myself, and went to sleep.
GOOD MORNING RUSH!
Coffee second, camera FIRST. SUCCESS! Somehow he had lurched and moved the trap a good two feet from where I had placed it the night before. That accounted for the thumping sounds. I moved slowly because I didn’t want him to become more agitated. I felt for him. I imagined myself in his shoes, so to speak. I felt guilty and at the same time determined to reduce the Rush population of my tax and spend liberal house by a factor of one.
Rush in transit
First a picture on the front porch . . .
How did this Rush get captured by this small trap? Danged if I know. Best guess: Charitable Providence.
I put him into the back of my pickup truck and hoped some bleeding heart conservative would not happen by cruising down the sidewalk, see him and set him loose. And I continued with office work until early afternoon. Then — at the suggestion of a Facebook friend — drove not to Washington Park as originally intended, but to the airport perimeter road.
on the precipice of freedom
ten seconds to e-possum-cipation
It took Rush a few seconds to understand his new circumstance after I lifted the door behind him. His tail probably send the barrier’s removal first. He turned around in the cozy confines and bolted out face first before I could even aim my camera and rushed (so to speak, so to escape) first under my truck and presumably across the road. I picked up the cage and hustled back to the truck to depart the area because I had a nutty flash of him climbing into the underside of the truck and riding home with me, even though I was heading first for the AeroKnow Museum.
I am feeling a lot better with Rush out of the house. The doors to the bathroom and bedroom are open. There’s a loaf of bread flagrantly at rest on the kitchen counter. The traps are put away, and the house is quiet again.
Live long . . . . . . . and proper.
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