The unwanted guest

Published 4:34 pm Friday, February 24, 2017

Last weekend I heard one of the bags of chips in my pantry crinkling.

It was about 10 p.m. and I hadn’t gone in there to grab food all day. I swept my apartment for ghosts years ago, so that wasn’t it either.

As I approached my pantry on my tippy toes, the crinkling noise suddenly stopped. I waited in my kitchen with the lights off for a few more seconds. No more sound.

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I cautiously swung open my pantry doors and scanned the shelves. My Pop Tarts, my Wavy Lays, my spaghetti noodles, my bag of Atomic Warhead sour candies—all of it looked in its right place. A certain thought crossed my mind, but I immediately dismissed it. It must have been the chip bag unwrinkling by itself. They do that sometimes.

I closed the doors and went back to reading.

Not five minutes later, the crinkling began again. I leapt up, hustled into the kitchen and listened. This time I heard it. Something was definitely in there.

Again, I opened my pantry doors, ready to see what I had now convinced myself would be there. My eyes darted across the shelves. Still nothing.

But wait.

I examined the surface a little closer. A cluster of small brown pellets was littered around like land mines. It was as I feared.

A darn mouse was eating my Wavy Lays.

I immediately put together a plan. I needed traps, I needed to seal the entryway into the pantry and I needed to toss whatever food wasn’t sealed.

I bought a mouse trap at Walmart the next day, dabbed a little peanut butter on it and set it up in what I thought to be a high-traffic area by the cans of tuna. When I came back from work on Tuesday, I peeked inside.

Tracks of flour were all over the shelves. The little guy had ripped into my bag of White Lily and was tracking it all over the place. Even worse, the tracks were all over the mouse trap I had set, but he had avoided getting caught.

The mouse was taunting me. How insulting.

Later that night, I heard the now infamous crinkling, the harbinger of the rodent. I stomped into my kitchen and opened my pantry, hoping to catch it by surprise.

There he was, sitting by the olive oil bottle. He was about the size of a golf ball, and his little body was hyperventilating, panicking at the sight of me. I stared at him. He stared back.

Slowly, I closed the pantry door.

Did I just see what I thought I saw?

I opened the door again. He was already on the next shelf down, frozen in fear. I leaned in, pretending to reach for him, and he darted into the labyrinth of bags and boxes. Without hesitating, I slammed the door shut and duck taped it tightly. I needed more traps. Many more.

I picked up a couple sticky pads and a different brand trap that looked like It would do the job well. As bait, I laid a little piece of a York peppermint patty in it. I sealed the pantry shut again and waited.

Wednesday night, I heard him scrambling around, and I got giddy thinking I had caught him. It sounded like he landed on one of the sticky pads. I heard a light thud, and the sound of some Walmart bags I have on the bottom shelf crinkling. Did he land on the pad and fall off while struggling to escape? I decided to wait until the morning to see.

When I looked inside Thursday morning, I saw no mouse. I saw no sign of it crawling across the sticky pad. I saw nothing.

Now I’m at war with the mouse, and I’ll line every horizontal surface of my pantry with a sticky pad trap if I have to.

Or if anyone has a cat, I’d love to borrow it.