Last night started quite showbizzy. Then it went downhill rapidly.
After his show in Soho, London-based American comedian Lewis Schaffer and I were eating £2 take-away pizzas, sitting on the new wall opposite the Odeon cinema in Leicester Square. He paid.
Comedians Paul Chowdhry and Gary Delaney were passing by, noticed Lewis sitting there and stopped to say hello to him.
Then Lewis Schaffer and I returned to talking about my current mouse problem. As I mentioned in my blog yesterday, a mouse has taken up residence in my living room.
A small mouse. But it is a mouse nonetheless.
“We had a mouse,” Lewis Schaffer told me last night, “and my tenants wanted to get rid of it. The Spanish guy thought it was a rat. I said It needs to be killed. They said What about a humane way of killing it? I said It doesn’t work. I don’t know if it does work, but I can’t imagine it working.
“You gotta get glue traps, John. It’s like the glue that is on the bottom of a sticky tile or a linoleum square – your hand sticks to it if you touch it. You put the glue trap on the floor and the mouse gets stuck on it.”
“You put bait in the middle of it?” I asked. “We tried Mars bars yesterday.”
“You don’t need to put food down,” Lewis Schaffer told me authoritatively. “The mouse just stumbles on it and realises Boy! I’ve made a very big mistake. Cos it can’t get off. And then you’ve got no choice but you’ve got to kill it.”
“How?” I asked.
“Scissors in the head,” Lewis Schaffer told me. “That’s what I would do next time.”
“Next time?” I asked.
“I used the kitchen knife last time,” he said flatly.
“You slit the poor beast’s throat?”
“Well,” he confessed. “I didn’t slit its throat. I slit underneath its belly.”
“Why?” I asked.
“Because it was squirming,” Lewis Schaffer told me.
“Well, it would squirm in the circumstances,” I said.
“Yeah,” said Lewis Schaffer. “Fighting for its life. And squeaking like a baby squeaking. Like a human squeak. It hits the same…”
“It sounds quite similar to what the English did to William Wallace,” I said.
“Did they cut off his…”
“I think they invented hanging, drawing and quartering for him,” I said.
“I thought that was invented by Kentucky Fried Chicken,” said Lewis Schaffer.
“So why did you slit the belly first?” I asked.
“Because it was squirming,” he replied. “And squeaking. I was aiming for its head. It was squirming desperately and I was aiming for its head.”
“You were trying to chop off its head and you missed?”
“Yeah. I missed because it was squirming and I chopped his belly, which put him in even more pain. And then I cut his head off. And then I threw him in the wastebin.”
“Did you stick his head on a spike at the entrance to your flat as a warning to others?”
“No, but I think they got the idea. No other mouse turned up. Usually they come in pairs.”
“Was this in America?” I asked.
“I did it once in America and once here.”
“So you’re a multiple murderer of God’s creatures.” I said.
“Josie Long is going to come after me,” Lewis Schaffer said sadly.
“Did you behead both mice or only one?” I asked.
“I don’t remember what I did in olden times in the US,” he replied. “In England, I did this to keep my tenants happy.”
“Did you show them the head to prove it was dead?” I asked.
“No. They believed me. I told them You’re murderers. You’re accessories to murder.”
“So you are recommending this is what I should do to my mouse?”
“I wouldn’t,” said Lewis Schaffer slowly, “because you’re gonna feel… Well, if I felt bad – and I’m Lewis Schaffer…”
“So what am I going to do?”
“You’re going to get a glue trap. £2.99. You get two. You put one down and you save the other one till later.”
“What’s wrong with a humane trap?” I asked. “I have one in the cupboard under the stairs. There was a mouse before. I don’t want to talk about it.”
“Mice are too smart for that humane trap type of shit,” Lewis Schaffer said and then he paused. “Does it sound like I’m being cruel that I killed a mouse? They don’t tell you how killing a mouse is going to rip your kishkas out and make you feel bad that you’re a human being.”
“Kishkas?” I asked.
“It means Rip your stomach out.”
“That’s what you did to the mouse. That’s what the English did to William Wallace.”
“All I remember is that I killed a mouse in New York maybe 10 or 15 years ago and, when I was asked to do it again in London, I didn’t want to do it.”
“But you did it.”
“We live in very recessionary times,” said Lewis Schaffer. “I need the rent from the tenants.”
Later, I drove Lewis Schaffer to his home via my eternally un-named-friend’s flat in Greenwich. She likes cleaning.
“You slit its throat?” she asked Lewis Schaffer. “There must have been blood everywhere. What did you do with the knife?”
“The knife?” Lewis Schaffer asked.
“Do you still eat with it every morning?”
“There was glue stuck on it,” said Lewis Schaffer, “and blood. In order to get the glue off, I had to use a lighter.”
“You kept the knife,” my eternally un-named-friend said slowly.
“If you use a lighter on glue, it would burst into flames,” I mused.
“The glue was melted off,” Lewis Schaffer told me. “You just can’t throw away a knife every time you kill a mouse,” he told my eternally-un-named friend.
“But how many times are you going to kill a mouse?” I asked.
“As often as it takes to kill those…” said Lewis Schaffer, then he paused. “What are you looking at me like that for? You wanna get rid of it, you gotta pay the price. The price is living with guilt.”
“I wouldn’t have guilt,” my eternally-un-named friend said. “The mouse should not have come into the house.”
“Is there some way of using Zyklon B?” I asked.
“If you ask a mouse to leave and it doesn’t…” my eternally-un-named friend continued. “I haven’t tried that yet, but I might do.”
“You could persuade it to go to the shower room,” I said.
“John,” said Lewis Schaffer, “I’m not going to do some Holocaust joke for your blog.”
“Did you hear about the trap I’ve made?” my eternally-un-named friend asked Lewis. “A piece of paper over a bowl of water.”
“Mice can’t drown,” said Lewis Schaffer. “They can swim.”
“It worked once for me,” said my eternally-un-named friend. “There was a dead mouse in the water. I presumed it had drowned. Maybe it had had a heart attack.”
“Maybe it died of embarrassment,” I suggested, “at falling for the trap.”
“Maybe it was just its time to go,” my eternally un-named-friend sighed.
When I got back to my home in the early hours of this morning, there was no dead mouse.
It is still there somewhere. In the living room. Confident. Taunting me.
I have to do something about it.
Death is inevitable.
For one of us.
Well, for both of us.
But, as in comedy, it is the timing that matters.