A sudden and desperate squeaking started from somewhere in the room. I looked at the old fellow, Mr. W. Alva, sitting across from me. He busily studied a set of forms on his lap with a magnifying glass that he produced from the depths of one of the many bags that were placed at his feet. He was a retired bottlemaker and amateur scientist who found himself quite homeless after a series of unfortunate events and now sat in my office.
“Do you hear that?”
Mr. Alva set the magnifying glass down on the table next to him. The handle of the magnifier was carefully wrapped in layers of duct tape for a most comfortable grip. Everything he owned was customized to fit his needs, from his banana spoon, which was a pen taped to a white plastic spoon and stored in his top shirt pocket, to his watch which had about twenty-seven rubber bands wrapped around the wristband.
“What?” He looked up and asked questioningly with his toothless mouth agape. In his mouth moved a strange pink tongue like that of a parakeet, mashing up words like pellets. Under the wrinkles of his eyelids, he peered at me with tiny eyes in the process of receding into his face. They were greyish, the blue, green or brown washed out over the years.
Clearly, he did not hear the squeaking. Mr. Alva was nearly deaf from earwax, long white hairs that grew outwards and inwards, and years of experimenting with explosives. It would not have been a surprise for the man to reach into one of his bags and pull out an ear horn, and say, Come again?
I was alone in my quest to identify the sound. What a gift to hear birds singing and what a burden to hear the suffering of a baby mouse stuck to a sticky trap by its little baby mouse head.
Mr. Alva, although nearly deaf, maintained his ability to see sharply across the room. He warned with a waving finger before returning to his reading, “Better not let it bite you, its belly might be full of poison.”
Very helpful, Mr. Alva, thanks.
I had to decide the most decent and humane action and quickly to end the squeaking and squirming of the trapped creature. A quick test of the trap proved its effectiveness in that the mouse could not be separated from its ultimate demise, voluntarily or forcibly. It was too late for both of us. The mouse would never escape and I would never regain my innocence.
Like Lady Macbeth, the blood was on my hands and forever in my conscience.