The first time I found the little jar of gourmet honey on the floor in the pantry I figured it had just been knocked over by accident. When I found it on the floor the next morning I thought it was odd, but whatever. A couple of days passed and the honey remained steadfast on its shelf. And then I woke one night and heard scratching sounds downstairs. It didn’t sound like the ice maker in the fridge, which can raise an ungodly racket when it gets going, so I investigated. The scratching sound continued as I crept down the stairs, then stopped when I flicked on the kitchen light.

The sound had seemed like it was coming from the pantry, so I opened the pantry door. I looked in and sighed. The little jar of gourmet honey was on the floor again. But that’s not all that was on the floor. There was something else: mouse turds. An entire Normandy beach of them. It was 2:30 in the morning so I went back to bed. La Raymunda was half awake and asked me what was going on. “We have mice,” I said. “Oh, that’s just great,” she replied and went back to sleep.

The next day I asked the Facebooks if anyone knew of a humane, non-lethal solution to my mouse problem. I wanted the critter out of my house, but I didn’t want to kill the varmint. Do no harm and all that. So I posted this:

We have a mouse in the house. Anyone know if the humane “not-death” mouse traps work? What works best for bait? I’m kind of a softie and would rather catch and release than snap the little dude’s neck in half. Although I’m not happy about having to clean up all its little poops in the pantry.

And got these suggestions in return:

– “Glue Traps work great.”
– “Just kill them with the Victor snap traps.”
– “Turn on Fox News with the volume up really loud and leave the house for a couple hours.”
– “Cat.”
– “I was going to recommend blasting some Coldplay to drive the little critter out. But that isn’t very humane.”

Bill Murray and gopher in Caddyshack

“All you need is a plastic bag, some work gloves, and a HELL of a lot of luck.”

– “Kill them and be done with it.”
– “I called the Orkin man – done”
– “I’m with the ‘kill and be done with it’ group”

And one lonely suggestion to try a Havahart trap to catch the little booger alive.

I went with the Havahart, which I ordered and had delivered by Amazon the next day. (Hooray Prime!)

The Havahart arrived in the evening, so I baited the trap with peanut butter chips, put it in the pantry where Turd Beach had been, ate dinner, and went to bed. The next morning the trap was sprung, the chips were gone, and the beach had been repopulated…but no mouse.

“The Force is strong with this one,” I said, and I named my prey Kylo Rat. (Crediting the mouse’s escape to the Force sounded a lot better than admitting I’d not set the trap’s trigger correctly, which had allowed Kylo Rat to escape. I took the opportunity to name the trap Sarlacc.)

That night I baited the trap again, set the trigger correctly this time, and went to bed. The next morning I had Kylo Rat. I found him sitting in the Sarlacc playing guitar and singing.

Well I went raidin’ in the pantry last night,
I got the feeling that something ain’t right,
I smelled the scent of peanut butter chips,
Then heard the sound of the doors when they flipped,
Metal to the left of me,
Grill to the right, here I am,
Stuck in the Sarlacc with you

I told Kylo Rat I wouldn’t freeze him in carbonite if he promised not to come back to my house and poop all over the pantry. He just shrugged and said, “I’m a mouse. I eat, I sneak, I poop. It’s what I do.” I told him that made him sound like a cuddly Gollum and he hissed at me. So I took him to Runnymede Park, where I released him in the woods near some sheltered picnic tables. As he ran for the cover of a pile of leaves at the base of a tree I told him if he stayed alive long enough, he should get some good eats because it was Memorial Day weekend.

That night, I baited the Sarlacc again. The next morning…nothing. I wondered if Kylo Rat was working Solo. None of his comrades were in the Sarlacc and the bait had not been stolen. And I was sure Kylo Rat wouldn’t find his way back. I had driven him quite a ways from the house before releasing him, playing The Blizzard of Oz at full volume to disorient him, and before I set him free I blindfolded him and turned him around three times to mess up his sense of direction. But as I said, I sensed the Force was strong in him, so I kept the Sarlacc baited and in the pantry for a few more days.

Two days passed. No new turds in the pantry. Then, while surfing in the Rock and Roll Room, I saw either a very large hairy spider or a small mouse scurry past. It zipped out from under a manila envelope and then froze out in the open. It was a mouse. A tiny little dude. It scurried back under the manila envelope. “I’ll catch you and feed you to the Sarlacc, Boba Rat,” I said.

This morning I found Boba Rat trapped in the Sarlacc. He proved to be just as susceptible to the temptation of peanut butter chips as Kylo Rat had. (And as I have been. I’ve eaten three-fourths of the bag.)

Boba Rat © Michael Raymond 2016

Boba Rat, set free from the Sarlacc, eyes Reese’s peanut butter chip warily, expecting treachery.

I covered the Sarlacc with a shirt and drove out to Runnymede Park, where I’d freed Kylo Rat. But when I opened the Sarlacc, Boba didn’t run out. I thought maybe he was dead, so I tipped the Sarlacc a little and Boba Rat slid out on his back and then laid there in the leaves with his pink belly showing. It was adorable, but probably not a smart thing for a prey animal to do. Not for the first time, I feared for Boba’s survival capabilities. (He’d run out from cover and frozen in the open, remember.) I wished Boba godspeed and good luck.

So is this the end? Will there be more sequels? If it turns out there are more, I’m considering Ratbacca for the next mouse. Or Chewbaccrat, although that sounds like a card game James Bond would play in a Monte Carlo casino. Any ideas? Suggestions are welcome.