Monday night was the first time I heard the scratching. Of course it seemed to be coming from inside my heater which is accustomed to making a wide ranging and ever expanding catalog of sounds. Right now, for instance, it is imitating a cricket sitting inside of a tin cup, its most common impersonation. But the scratching was out of the ordinary even for a creature as animated as my heater, not to mention just a little bit alarming. Once the heater was removed from the list of suspects, it became clear that a mouse has taken up inside of the wall of my apartment. My immediate objective has been to keep him from moving in; I am in no need of a roommate. One thing about mice stuck in walls, though, is they are persistent. For two hours, we played a game of pat and mouse. He scratched with ever increasing fervor until I felt compelled to get up, walk over and tap the wall at the suspected source of the disturbance. This he took as his queue to take a five minute break, at the end of which he took up his cause with added enthusiasm. Realizing that he was up near the heater ducts, I pushed the thermostat up and headed to bed hoping the heat would convince him to move on.
Tuesday night, though, my potential lodger was back. My applying a little heat had not dampened his determination, but convinced him to rethink his approach as he had now moved behind the dishwasher. It was a little puzzling that my dishwasher and heater are somehow connected behind the scenes, but it's an apartment so I don't care so long as water doesn't start spewing from the vents. The dishwasher turned out to be a pretty good strategy for annoying me, since I had the dishwasher open serving its second function as a cabinet and his scratching was being amplified by the plastic shell inside of the dishwasher. Once again, we played our game; he scratched until I couldn't take it and went into the kitchen making enough noise to send him into hiding. Then I began to consider the amount of effort this little guy was putting out. At this rate, I thought, he could very well be in the bed with me by morning and I damn sure don't want to stay up all night pacing around in the kitchen to keep him from scratching. The solution turned out to be fairly simple. I went to the closet and pulled out a radio from the top shelf, plugged it into the kitchen wall, tuned in the top 40 station, and set it in the dishwasher with the speakers pointed to the wall. The degree of silliness that is required to set a radio in your dishwasher did not occur to me until today, but it did prove to be a pretty effective deterrent. So far tonight, not a creature is stirring. Well, except the heater which is now doing an imitation of those cow bells some people take to high school football games. No scratching tonight can mean two things: the mouse moved on thinking he would rather take his chances with the cold than listen to top 40 every night or he is getting much needed rest somewhere inside my apartment.