Here’s my story for a comic, with some of the panels I drew. I didn’t know enough to make sure the text would reproduce clearly, so I’ve left the original text. This is fine, I decided, as this is my experiments blog. I’ll publish more panels soon. Many thanks to Dylan Horrocks for getting me past my fear of drawing and for his all-round superb teaching. And to the others in the class for their inspiration and support.
Here’s the rest. Last week, I heard Denise Mina talk about comix. There are helpful hints, she said. A list. One hint: No more than 40 words a panel. She also said that she thinks that writing comix (she’s writing them for The Girl with the Dragon Tattoo) uses both sides of the brain and is different than writing other things, even though she doesn’t draw the pictures. Is this why I enjoyed making Mouse so much even though I can’t draw, why I enjoy writing screenplays so much even when I don’t get to make the pictures, and am thinking of turning two screenplays into graphic novels?
I. Last summer… I hissed at the local cats
Making themselves at home among the silver beet
& on the compost bin
And I grabbed my big gardening fork
Shook the fork at the cats-on-the-run
& plunged it into the compost bin
(to establish if there was compost ready to use).
And I impaled a mouse.
On the fork’s left prong.
It wriggled wildly. Little legs & tail working hard to get away.
I closed my eyes
& plunged the fork again.
Levered the prong against uncomposted vegetable matter (bits of seaweed) until I was fairly certain the mouse was off the fork.
Went inside & knocked off a whole pipette of rescue remedy.
II. When autumn comes
I eat a lot of toast.
I used to make it in the oven. Then the kids gave me a toaster.
And last autumn I did what I always do.
Dropped in two slices of bread
Depressed the lever
The mouse ran along the bench, jumped off the end and disappeared under the stove. I later learned that mice can fit through a gap the size of a 20c piece: it would EASILY squeeze round the edges of the toaster’s little cages that hold the bread, and out the slot at the top.
And then the mouse haunted me all winter. It came and went. Especially in the kitchen.
It nibbled apples.
Pushed walnuts across the table and onto the floor.
Gnawed its way into the icecream container where I keep scraps for the compost.
I enclosed everything I could. Lids on really tight.
I shut drawers and cupboards.
It ran wild in the drawers and attempted to chew its way OUT of cupboards.
I shifted the chairs away from the table.
It made no difference. Mice JUMP.
I took everything off the table.
The mouse left tiny turds EVERYWHERE:
Inside pots and frypans
Beside the toaster and on the toaster tray
On benches and windowsills
In the airing cupboard.
In my bedroom—
—the mouse galloped along behind the pillows, woke me from a dream of thundering horses. I banged on the wall to scare it. Thumped on the table to make it go away.
I discovered more tiny turds among my pencils, behind my staplers. And worried that the mouse would run across my face at night. Or nest in my bed.
(Later, I discovered its nest among some winter clothes I never wear. More shit, some bits of walnut shell.)
I considered and rejected a warm welcome for the local cats, went online to find other ‘natural’ ways to get rid of a mouse.
BUT just as I was about to experiment with
used kitty litter (but where’s a local cat who uses kitty litter instead of my vegetable garden?);
& more expensive ways to chase a mouse away like
dried snake poo;
& an electronic beeper (hissing does not work with mice)
IT DISAPPEARED. For longer than usual.
And then the smell came. From under the sink. I opened one door. And then the other. Looked in all the saucepans and containers (some of the lids no longer on tightly.)
I was frantic.
Finally, I went through every plastic bag stuffed behind the rubbish bin. And there it was.
(Later, I read that mice enter a resting stage known as torpor when they sleep. Did my mouse become sluggish while searching the far reaches of a plastic bag, take a nap, and run out of air?)
I thought about adding my mouse to the compost heap.
I thought about a formal burial.
& then I wrapped it in a plastic bag inside another plastic bag and added it to the rubbish.
I cleaned and scrubbed everywhere: bottom airing cupboard, toaster tray, behind the stapler.
Put the fruit and nuts back on the table. Chairs up close.
Deleted the bookmark about mice and peppermint oil.
Went back to hissing at cats.
END OF STORY.
III. I could have realised when I found a walnut on the floor.
But I didn’t.
And when I heard little sounds at night I thought they were winter storm sounds.
Then, apple core in hand, I lifted the lid off the ice cream container where I keep scraps for the compost (I swear it was on tight-ish.)
It vanished… You know the story… Along the bench and under the stove. I cried a little. Before moving into intensive defence mode.
BUT IT WAS NEARLY SPRING.
And the mouse never made it to my bedroom or my work table.
And it didn’t try to chew its way out of closed cupboards.
It did jump out of the toaster once.
But it didn’t discover the airing cupboard.
It too disappeared.
And so far there is no smell.
When I turned the compost at spring’s beginning, I was VERY careful.
Immediately, a lovely response from downstairs. Love it! Will check where he got it:
September 20, 2005
How to catch a mouse without a mousetrap
I had a little friend visit my apartment the other week, and for a while there I was ready to make peace with him and co-exist. But after I cleaned up the place and ordered pizza one night, and it crawled up the side of my chair onto the sleeve of my shirt, I knew it was time to bid farewell.
Here’s how I caught the critter:
Get a toilet paper tube and crease two lines to form a flat sided tunnel.
Put a treat on one end of the tube: A cracker and dab of peanut butter works great.
Get a tall (at least 20 inches) bucket. A trash can works well.
Balance the tube precariously on the edge of a table or counter with the treat hanging directly over the tall sided receptacle.
The mouse will scurry to the treat (they like tunnels) and fall into the trap.
Set the fella loose at least a mile away from your abode.
Postnote: It worked within the hour.
Also, folks have asked how this could work if you don’t have a counter or table. Simple: get a piece of cardboard and crease it to make a ramp up to a small trashcan.