Last night, I awoke in the darkness to the sound of a low buzzing near my ear. A woman who was temporarily sleeping in my apartment was attempting to reach me by telephone. Though I questioned why she had called me from such close proximity, I answered.
“Hello,” I said.
“I found a mouse,” the woman informed me. As we were both stationed within the apartment, I could hear her voice clearly without the aid of the telephone. Still, we did not abandon the mechanism. “It ran under a pile of clothes,” she added.
Months earlier, my landlord spoke of a similar class of rodents that had invaded his home in search of shelter and food scraps. He informed me that though he had once been pestered by the vermin, he and his housemates had since been able to systematically locate, isolate, and delete the creatures. A housemate explained one particularly cruel game they had played: “All I had to do was corner the mouse into the sink,” she said. “Then, I took hold of the spray faucet and shot the mouse until it had drowned.”
I did not relate this to the woman over the telephone. “What should I do?” she asked me.
Several years ago, while living in the Los Santos province of Panama, I found the helix of my ear caught between the jaws of a large and brazen rat. I had been sleeping soundly at the time–lost in the midst of a strange, hallucinatory dream, the specifics of which I do not recall–when the rat approached, squeaked violently, and bit. After the modest flow of blood from my head confirmed that I was not, in fact, still hallucinating, I located a man outside my domicile for help. The man offered me illicit drugs, an oversized conch shell with which to conceal a gaping, rat-friendly hole in my bedroom wall, and an outdoor hammock as a temporary bed. I accepted two of his offers.
Back in my apartment, I considered the mouse. I had no drugs, nor shells; my sole hammock was folded deep within my closet, out of use during the cool winter months.
“Sleep on the futon,” I suggested to the woman. “I will call my landlord in the morning.”