But as the Bichon Frise continued to bark, we realized "down time" was no longer part of the agenda.
Setting her shopping bags down on the island in the kitchen, my sister-in-law, Joanne, knelt and looked under the sidebar to see what all the ruckus was about.
"Oh, no!" she cried, hazel eyes wide with panic. "There’s a mouse caught on the sticky trap! And" --her squeal echoed that of the trapped mouse-- "and it’s still alive!"
I groaned. Joanne and I are both adamantly against sticky traps since the mice stuck to it will often tear themselves limb from limb in an attempt to get free like some horror version of Br'er Rabbit.
"What’re we going to do?" I asked, kneeling and looking at the writhing Ratatouille.
Joanne said, "We’ll hafta kill it, I guess. We don’t want it to keep suffering." Standing and stretching herself across the island, she groaned, "I hate this!"
Since there was just the two of us at my in-laws' house, we knew one of us had to soon play the part of the Grim Reaper. Drawing myself up to my full height (5'2''), I said in my most assertive voice, "Don't worry, I'll handle it."
"No!” Joanne screamed. “If I’m to live on a foreign land, I must get used to these kinda things!"
I just looked at sister-in-law and grinned. Beneath her summer tan, her face was as white as a sheet.
I said, "Do you think I should use a hammer?"
"Ugh! Its guts would get all over you!"
"You're right. Let's look in the garage for something else."
Trooping into the garage in our patriotic attire, Joanne and I searched through my father-in-law's tools and held up each before shaking our heads and deeming it too violent.
She suggested, "We could hit it on the head with a board."
Wielding a hammer like a character in the Hunger Games, I shuddered and said, "No, I don't want to look at it while I’m killing it."
My sister-in-law paused, then looked over at me, her face lit up with an Eureka! moment. Picking up a box without a lid, she set it on the ground and grabbed a Swiffer mop.
I said, "Huh?"
"See...you take the box and you set it on top of the mouse like this. Then you take the Swiffer mop and you do this." Grabbing the Swiffer mop with both hands, my sister-in-law smashed it down into the box, expertly "crushing" our invisible mouse and promptly ending its pain.
"Okay," I said. "I think I could handle that."
Exiting the garage, we entered the kitchen, and I rolled the sidebar out of the way. I picked up the sticky trap the mouse was on, and it flailed its little gray arms and made squeaky sounds.
"Ummmm, Joanne? This thing can't get off, can it?"
"No," she said, shaking her head sadly. "Once it's on there, it's on there for good."
I looked down at the squirming varmint and thought otherwise. I knew if it leapt down off of that sticky trap, I would probably scream bloody-murder and stomp it to death out of sheer panic.
Not exactly the most humane way to go.
After I deposited the sticky trap on the front porch beside the luscious hydrangea planters, Joanne passed me the box with the solemnity of a nurse assisting in experimental brain surgery.
I set the box down on top of the mouse as gently as possible. It squeaked, and I shuddered. Grabbing the Swiffer mop, I lifted the handle up beside my head and stared down at the box, trying to think like Bear Grylls stabbing a fish with his handmade spear.
I quickly learned: I am no Bear Grylls. My arms began getting stiff from holding the Swiffer mop at such an awkward angle, and my stomach heaved with the idea of what I was about to do. In disgust, I threw the mop on the porch and muttered, "I can't do this. I thought I could, but--"
Joanne interrupted with, "--it's okay. Let's run over the mouse with the truck."
I looked over to gauge her seriousness. Her face was as serious as a heart attack.
Lifting the box off of the mouse, I picked up the sticky trap and set it down into the box. We then picked across the graveled driveway in our barefeet, and I moved to get the sticky trap/mouse out of the box.
"No. Leave it," Joanne said, climbing into the truck's cab. "That way we won't have to clean the mouse up; we can just throw the whole box away when we’re done."
I nodded and put the box directly behind the truck's left front tire. Shaking my head at the absurdity of using a two-ton truck to kill a .75555 ounce mouse, I asked my sister-in-law, "Shouldn't we just use my Jeep instead?"
"No," she said. "This'll work."
I thought, No doubt about that.
I was standing there, waiting for Joanne to shift into Reserve, when she stuck her head out the window and asked, "Aren't you going to get in here with me?"
I laughed, then -- seeing her face -- quickly obeyed. I went and sat in the passenger's seat, and Joanne turned the key and looked over at me with tears in her eyes.
"Just do it," I said, wiping away tears of my own even while trying not to laugh.
Nodding, she tightened her jaw and shifted into Reverse. Her eyes locked with mine the whole time we were backing up, and when that box went under the tires, it sounded like a thousand mice spines being crushed to powder.
She screamed; I screamed and laughed about the fact that I was screaming. But we kept moving backward, down the lane. After a few feet, Joanne looked over at me and whispered, "Do you think I should run over him again?"
"No," I said, "I think that did the trick."
We sat there for another thirty seconds. Finally, I flung open the door and got out. Walking around to the driver's side, I looked inside the crushed box, but there was not a thing in it. Panicked, I searched all across the gravel, but there was not a hint of mouse remains. Then I looked at the tire--at the huge, knobby tire belonging to the two-ton truck.
Sure enough. The sticky trap was stuck to the tire as stubbornly as a piece of gum. Bloody innards were squishing around the trap, and I saw the mouse's gray tail peeping out from under the bottom of it.
Swallowing, I said, "Joanne, I think--I think we got him."
"Is it bad?" she asked.
"No, the sticky trap's stuck to the tire. I can barely see anything."
Clambering down out of the cab, she took a look, then looked at me and said, "We'll let the men handle it from here."
I couldn't agree more.
One hour later, when I returned home to shower and get ready for the firework show, I came in the door and called out to my husband, "Have I got a story for you!"
Padding out of our bedroom, he said, "What?"
"A mouse got caught on a sticky trap at Mom and Dad's, and Joanne and I ran over it with Dad's truck."
Tilting his head, my husband looked at me. "You know, if it's not too messed up, you can usually get a mouse off a sticky trap with a little warm water."
I groaned and slapped my forehead.
RIP, little Ratatouille, I’ll know better next time.