Mouse tales

Something’s been chewing above my head in the attic. At first I thought it was our cat, trapped in a nearby closet exploring, pretending to be a ghost or whatever fills her feline imagination. I went to the guest bedroom. The sound was louder there.

A skunk that lived under the floorboards of my living room years ago sprayed every time I played music with a heavy bass line. I took to a tinnier sound.

I once had to get a timing belt changed in a Manhattan auto shop. The mechanic stared at me wide-eyed, babbling about tooth marks all over the bottom side of my Datsun. He wasn’t aware of how porcupines love the sweetness of brake and transmission fluids.


Lab rats escaped cages down the hill from me in West Kill. The scuffling, chewing sounds they made were far less scary than the sound they made in their final moments at the lab.

But enough of all that. One of the films we’d seen recently, Guy Madden’s strangely cathartic My Winnipeg, had cartoon images of an electrified squirrel in a major fire in his home city. That brought back memories of our friends Portia and Jared after flying squirrels had chewed into their attic’s old wiring, burning half their roof.

I asked my wife to head upstairs. Mouse turds, which will mean mouse traps. Once again, our house will be quiet, by and large.

Is this a good thing? Isn’t this alternation between shunting and welcoming the natural world one of the bases upon which our current pandemic is built? Can we control everything without something slipping, unforeseen?

I’m afraid of the silence I’ve created. Once started, the struggle never ends.


Read more installments of Village Voices by Paul Smart.

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