A sticky situation

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There’s a reason my wife and I bought new construction when it came time to plunk down thousands on a home. We had already lived the nightmare of an “antique” house, where mice and other rodents could come and go as they pleased.

My dad used to joke that our cat held the flashlight for the parade of mice that enjoyed our cabinet stock.

We were newly married, and the scurrying of mice across the floor at night tested those vows early — like 3 am early.

So we were none too pleased when a do-it-yourself retailer that shall not be named (“Let’s build something together”) recently delivered tiny varmints with our new patio furniture.

It was a rainy afternoon when the package arrived. We decided to have the delivery guys bring it inside, where it would be unwrapped and the massive cardboard box yanked apart for that week’s recycling.

As it was unpacked, the critters darted away from the box. Never saw anything, but there was plenty of evidence of what was inside — mouse droppings!

Fast-forward to the early morning hours, and we heard a yell from our teenage son in the downstairs bathroom. It’s not unusual for him to be awake at 2 or 3 am, but aroused by his plaintive wail, we went to see what was up.

“The mouse,” he said. “It just ran across the floor and under the washer.”

We pulled the washer and dryer out from beneath the laundry counter, to no avail. Convinced it had escaped to parts unknown, we settled back into bed.

Notice, I didn’t say to sleep.

Later that morning, our son came into our bedroom and announced a mouse had just leaped from his bureau onto his bedroom floor.

The next morning, armed with glue traps and peanut butter, we set out to catch Sir Squeaky.

No luck, though we were finding evidence of him throughout the house, mostly in our son’s bedroom. (Our teenage daughter was away on a school trip. A blessing at a troubled time.)

Perplexed and stumped by our inability to catch the varmint (except on camera — my son got a Snapchat video), we called a reputable exterminator. Walter came to our house, inspected the usual haunts, and declared our house tight and impossible for most rodents to enter. He chuckled when we told him the mice escaped from a box delivered to the house, and confirmed our hunch that the varmints were traveling the walls via our forced hot water heating system.

He gave us some bigger glue traps, some helpful tips (peanut butter), and even offered to let us call him for reassurance. “I wouldn’t even know how to charge you,” he said. “We sell programs. You don’t have a mouse problem, you have a (name of retailer that shall not be named) problem.”

We appreciated the honesty and integrity, but we had mice to catch, and a daughter nearing the end of her sojourn.

My daughter indeed returned home, and Sir Squeaky was still on the prowl. Sadly, she awoke on her first morning home to find evidence similar to what the three bears found in those stories we read to her so long ago. Someone had been sleeping in her bed.

Sir Squeaky even had the audacity to soil a Taylor Swift spirit jersey. Intolerable.

By now, our house was in full chaos mode. We were all at wits’ end.

And, then, it happened.

Sir Squeaky finally got stuck, literally, in the same place our son had originally spotted him, in the downstairs bathroom in front of our washing machine.

I won’t share the details of how Sir Squeaky was put out of our misery, except to say it was quick.

The end, right?

Wrong.

Hours later we found more evidence of a mouse. We convinced ourselves that the droppings were moved on a shoe or a backpack.

Later we found even more evidence, that wasn’t so easily dismissed.

Then, a day later, I saw him.

I was sipping my morning coffee when he poked his nose out from under a blanket chest in our bedroom. He bolted, and I was jolted into action by the confirmation that we still had a mouse in the house.

For two solid weeks, the mouse, whom I nicknamed Hairy Potter, kept us at bay. He climbed in backpacks to munch on half-eaten snacks, he gnawed holes into water bottles for a drink, and he even gobbled up some Post-It notes. He seemed to know that he needed to avoid the glue traps that sprouted up across the house.

As smart as he seemed, his last meal would be a half-dozen Dum-Dum lollipops.

That Sunday night, after some fresh glue traps were loaded with bait, my daughter saw Hairy Potter for the first time. Her screams of “Mouse! Mouse!” startled me from a doze on the couch, and we sprung into action. Using the light from a cell phone, we forced Hairy from behind the hutch where he sought refuge, and he was pulled onto the sticky pad like a Death Eater drawing life out of an unsuspecting wizard. My wife scooped him into a Ziploc bag, and my son put him quickly and decisively out of his sticky misery.

And in my best Lord Voldemort voice, I exclaimed, “Hairy Potter is dead!”

The end. We hope.