The house in Greenleaf, according
to reliable sources, (Andrea, former tenant) is infested with mice.
I'm sure she isn't exaggerating. I've seen her efforts at curbing the
population all over the tiny house; peppermint oil soaked pads in
every drawer, steel wool stuffed into small holes in walls and
floors, screens over every possible opening in the backs of
cupboards.

Some of my friends, upon hearing
'mice', say, “Trap them!” or “Decon!”

But that is NEVER going to happen.
Mark my public words. I cannot do it. It's not that I'm a LOVER of
rodents, although I freely admit that my one true Soul Mate was a hamster,
and that I've kept mice as pets throughout my life…It's that I
can't. It's genetically impossible. My father was a huge freak who
fed feral mice from his hands every night all throughout my rural
upbringing. Doritos corn chips, mostly. Sometimes popcorn. I'm
not naïve about infestation. I GREW UP with infestation. We called
it 'tiny, possibly rabid friendship'… and 'Dorito Control'…..

My father died a few years ago. I
found this essay I wrote prior to that. My parents didn't have mice
in their final home in Coeur d'Alene, probably because of the feral
cats they'd taken in. But they did have spiders. Many, many spiders.
This made me nostalgic.

Those rare few hours a day when my
father isn't parked barely conscious in front of the 1980's vintage
television, he spends working out in his rickety home gym, located in
their spider infested basement, in a small room about the size of
many people's closets. Oddly, my mother keeps her canned peach
collection also in this room.

"Are you still lifting
weights, Katy?" he asks me, inevitably, flexing his impressive
72 year old biceps. He has 1/4 of his original heart, 2/3rds of a
spastic diseased colon and countless other internal problems, not to
mention that he is completely batshit crazy, but the guy is Buff with
a capital 'Fucking WHY BOTHER YOU NEVER LEAVE THE HOUSE?!'

The correct answer is "Yes, I
lift weights every other day… AT LEAST"

If I am truthful and say, 'No, not
really…' he'll want his free weight set back. He will call me
constantly, every day, at all hours, home and at work, until I drive
it all back up to Northern Idaho so that he can pile it into his
weight room where literally thousands, or hundreds of thousands of
Joe Weider freeweights, weight machines of all sizes and makes,
incline benches, weight benches propped up on blocks, exercycles with
only one pedal, nordic tracks sans tracks, you name it, it's
teetering on some flimsy brink of barely, lifethreateningly
nonfunctional…

All dangerously close to one
another, each missing some fundamental piece of its original whole to
ensure that even exhaling in the wrong direction at the wrong time in
this house would be your biggest and final mistake. Unless you eat
the peaches.

Then there are the spiders. Spider
webs everywhere. Not because my mother isn't a frenetic vacuumer.
It's her hobby, it's her passion, (second only to keeping current on
my bowel movements). Not in the basement, though. My father would
scream like a 12 year old girl. He has named many of these
spiders.

"This one here is 'Senor
Clang' isn't he cute? You can see all 8 eyes watching you lift
weights. He's very curious."

My father does not kill anything,
except my hopes, my dreams…my honesty.

"Do you still have those
magazines I gave you?" he asks.

Again, 'Yes' is the right answer or
he'll insist I give them back, which I can't do because I've recycled
them. My house is not big enough for 2000 pounds of 10 – 15 year old
Muscle and Fitness magazine. I'd hoped he'd forget, like they do my
birthday each year.

"I read them nearly as much as
I lift weights…" I reply to my father and Senor Clang.

All 10 of their collective eyes
glisten with approval.

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