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Old Methodist Church in SE Portland (10.2019) – “Church Mice”

by | Apr 2, 2020 | Season 1 | 0 comments

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SERVICE STORY (Reviewed on Home Advisor)

“Working with Storysold was a dream. We had a huge undertaking with almost 40,000 sq ft between two properties! With both buildings being over 100 years old keeping critters out is difficult and the previous tenants of the building allowed a huge infestation to occur. Jake was able to not only eradicate the unwanted pests he also filled holes and cracks and has stopped them from having easy access. Communication was great and the pricing was fair and manageable for our small nonprofit! I will continue to work with Storysold and recommend them for any pest control needs, big or small!”

Produced for Jamie C. and her team at Sunnyside Methodist Church in SE Portland

I am Wilderness Security Guide, the Environmental Control Operator in charge of rodent services for Storysold: Pest Control. The story you’re about to read was written by my teammate Bookmaker Jake. He’s a sociopathic liar with god-like delusions of world domination, but he did OK tracking The Action at the heart of this service story. He called it, Church Mice – 

Guide stepped from our little Ford Transit cargo van, hit the ground on a familiar street in the heart of SE Portland, and looked up. 

Normally, it’s dangerous to look up in the middle of the street. But it’s not as dangerous when you’re receiving a vision from heaven. 

No joke, Guide stopped cold in the middle of the road when she realized that the iconic old church was our destination. None of us knew why she stopped so suddenly, but we knew our teammate well enough to know she was instantly hooked: hyper focused, feet frozen waiting for her to make a direction from ten, no memory of the past or present, only two hawk-like eyes on the church and The Action that was about to unfold there. After Guide broke her heavenly stare (and crossed the street), she asked our host to use his camera/phone to document The Beginning

None of us sawThe Grailhovering over the field of service that day, or anything so clandestine. But, each for our own oddball reasons, our whole team joined Guide on The Hook. Even the Pest Predator looked up—and saw his character producing a hit service in the old stone church. It might just have been our human’s childhood training, but the feeling—that strong sudden urge to be a part of whatever story was about to unfold there—was undeniable. The hardest part of pitching our services to the youthful Church Director, Jamie, was not looking in her eyes and saying, “Forget the money, we’ll do it for free!”   

 That’s about as good as it gets for “visions from heaven” these days.  

The church folks set a sign along the sidewalk. It read, “IN WITH THE NEW, OUT WITH THE OLD, ONE IS SILVER, THE OTHER IS GOLD.” We felt it summed up The Action there pretty well. The first congregation had formed in 1890 at a shoe factory, and then spent the next 21 years building the beautiful stone structure that many locals know, most famously, for their dedication to feeding the city’s poor. The last “silver metal” congregation died an immaterial, other-than-physical (but not spiritual) death in the early 2000s. Not sure why. People just stopped going to church.

Since then, the church has managed to keep its commercial kitchen open to feed the poor/people experiencing homelessness. It also hosts a variety of groups, teams, and neighborhood gatherings like Alcoholics Anonymous and the preschool who is run by an instantly likable human named Joey who has made the magic happen there, with or without proper funding, for more than a decade.

Now a new organization was emerging—stirring the old spiritual stew (heavy on the method and light on the holy rolling theatrics)—with new youthful leaders like Jamie and co-stars like Josh the new maintenance guy.  

The plan for a new beginning—aka The Youthful Revival–was thus:

1) Address the neighborhood’s concerns concerning the mass of humans experiencing homelessness around the church. 

2) Restore the safety of the neighborhood by shutting down the soup kitchen, cut off the services to the “good and bad” homeless persons, and exclude them from camping on the sidewalks. 

3) Shut down the soup kitchen, cut off the food supply to the church’s rodent population, and exclude them from their cozy, predator-free nesting sites in wall voids, behind cabinets, and cupboards.  

“Oh wow,” I said when I understood The Youthful Revival. “Are the mice acting as a foil for the homeless persons, or are the homeless persons acting as a foil for the mouse population here?” 

“Who cares about all that literary crap?” Guide replied. “What we have here is an opportunity to flex my environmental control techniques on a hundred year old, mouse infested church!” 

“This would be an honorable challenge for sure,” Pest Predator chimed in. “If we get the green light, can I join you?” 

“For sure,” Guide smiled. “I’d be happy to theme up with you on this one Predator. I’m going to need your eye for spiders, ants, and other bugs to find all the entry holes.”

“Good,” Predator replied without expression. “Count me in.” 

Once our team realized what Jamie was asking us to do, it became even more difficult to hold back, bite the tongue, and keep from leaping (hands in the sky) exclaiming, “Holy Moses! what more can we ask from a good service story? Name your price! We’ll start now!”   

After Jamie gave us the grand tour, we communed with her in the dusty, eerily unused sanctuary. “I’m sort of new at this pricing thing,” our human host said. “What’s your budget?” 

Then she told us. And Jake accepted it. All smiles. Clearly he should never be permitted to play poker.

Our first service scene was awesome. It couldn’t have looked any less like the pest control service our human performed for his 4 former employers if we tried. Instead of jumping right into the heroic acts of setting traps and poisoning God’s tiny creatures, we cranked up the tunes and clean the kitchen. 

Not many humans have read our official company novel (mission statement) The Living City, but those poor souls who have read it would recognize a guest appearance by our much-loved “live action” character, Dishmaster Jones. It felt good to dust his character off and put him to work, scrubbing and cleaning. Dishmaster cleaned for almost three hours before he said anything. Then he smiled (with a tear in his eye) as he said, “Oh wow, for a while there I wasn’t sure I’d ever hear the hum of a Hobart again.” Don’t worry if you don’t get it. He wasn’t talking to anyone in particular.

When I began, the mice were even shitting in the cleaning supplies.
I cleaned behind this cabinet for the first time in (decades?). It reminded me of a 24hour Denny’s.

I had been mentally prepared to do the cleaning scene like a sanitary ninja; but stoic, righteous, loner, isolationist asshole hero types are not always a good fit for church work, especially when The Hero’s Journey is cleaning the microscopic devils from the dark corners of a kitchen. Church, as we knew it, thrived on group projects. And Jamie seemed to agree. She rallied a group of volunteers to clean and ready the basement for their reclamation. 

Not too unlike our service story in NE with Farmer Rachel, Master Freddy, and Evanshoe—The Adventures of Ratty Claus—cleaning the old church was a true voyage of discovery. Nothing there was ubiquitous. Everything we saw, felt, and touched was alive with its own untold story. We’d become so used to generic cityscapes—strip malls, chain food joints, familiar retail stores, Beaverton (etc.)—our cleaning scene felt like we were rip roaring through an unseen wormhole at the center of the old church, emerging newborn on The Other Side with every newly discovered story. 

At Storysold, usually “old” is just code for “rich with stories.”
Ancient bedbug chemicals from when the church was a shelter. It’s a repellant like all of the cheap chemicals you can buy over-the-counter. Using repellants on a bedbug infestations only fans the flames.
I found an old letter full of poetry stashed behind this brick. Someone put there like a time capsule for The Future. I passed it along to one of the staff members, and then I used the stash hole to trap mice. Only got 5 or so there.

God’s not big on comedy. Church Goers aren’t normally allowed wicked senses of humor, but rat catchers are known for theirs. Most of the good rat catchers get it. We’re civilization’s foil: the bumbling John Goodman Bugs Be Gone comedic sidekick character in Arachnophobia who tries and inevitably fails to control The Action of nature. With that said, I loved that Jamie called her windowless, concrete dry storage room, “The Murder Room.” When I asked her why it was called, The Murder Room, she said, “You know. It’s that room in movies where the murders happen.” 

Made sense to me. I killed 5 mice in the entryway of The Murder Room after setting a few “fishing traps” in my first scene. As my righteous, gun-loving uncle likes to point out, “[group killing] war isn’t murder.” Only individuals killing individuals is murder in The Eyes of God. And no one would ever call killing mice murder. Somewhere along the way, we’ve labeled them, forever, as vectors. Rodents will always bear The Mark of Cain (marked for eradication like malaria transmitting mosquitos and meat infesting horn flies) and that means we, the pest heroes, will never have to worry about the home’s environmental backstory. It’s “see a rat, kill a rat” all day, every day. Instant diagnosis. Unlike real doctors, we pest professionals get to skip The Story, bypass The Action completely, and go straight to the part where we apply our generic treatments. “Disease” and “rat” are synonyms. Killing a mouse, rat, or vole is the same as treating a disease, because the presence of rodents in your home, or church, is always bad like the Dark Lord Satan.   

And God said, “Let us make man in our image, after our likeness. And let them have dominion over the fish of the sea and over the birds of the heavens and over the livestock and over all the earth and every creeping thing that creeps on the earth.” It was the first thing God printed, page one. Must have been important. 

Can you imagine a future world where doctors and pest professionals alike enjoy the ease of instant, or nearly instant, diagnosis? You would wait in a long line (like a grocery store) to present yourself before your doctor’s customer service counter. Next you would strip and put on a ritual gown of some kind, then wait some more while the doctor scanned your body for symptoms (using a Star Trek style Google body reader) a few short minutes before they labeled you with an instant diagnosis that came complete with its Google treatment, a pill, therapy, surgery, or a combination of pills, therapy, and surgery.  

Thankfully, our doctors haven’t found a way to reduce our everyday, live action stories to generic symptoms and instant diagnosis. They still bang our knees, tell us to open our mouth and say “aw,” and make kind but firm inquisitions about our drinking, drug, or sexual habits. They still have to, at least, make some show of learning our backstories before they slap us with their diagnosis and treat us, instantly on sight, like rats. 

In our story, however, the consequence of not dominioning the church mice seemed clear. After a few hours of running my Ghostbuster’s-style backpack vacuum around the walls, I had a canister full of proof. If the presence of live mice in didn’t equal “bad” or “disease,” their droppings certainly did. And that was enough of a backstory for me. 

When the initial cleaning scene had come to an adequate ending, I sat in the basement and performed the classic prebattle scene. You know, the scene where the Ewoks set their rolling log traps, Wylie Coyote set his new ACME roadrunner trap, or that annoying Home Alone kid set his deadfall paint cans and flame thrower traps to foil any bad guys who dared cross The Line and invade his territory. 

I quickly became bored applying peanut butter on traps. Desperate for any distraction, I asked Guide to give us a call to arms speech to hearten our entry into the coming battle scene. I asked her nicely, but I also told her I didn’t want just any call to arms speech. I told her I wanted one at least as good as the one Bill Pullman used to rouse the blood and bile in his fellow earthlings before they battled their infestation of space aliens. 

“We will not go quietly into the night,” the Supreme President of Earth (Bill Pullman) said, standing on his fighter jet with a bullhorn in hand. “We will not vanish without a fight. We’re going to live on. We’re going to survive. Today we celebrate our Independence Day!” 

Guide agreed to indulge me, but her speech did not, or would ever, meet the emotional needs of men charging into battle. If she delivered that speech, let’s say, a few moments before the trench officers of WW1 blew their whistles to “Charge!”, not one unsuspecting youth would cross heartily over The Line. They would all stand there—feeling unfilled—ready to die at the hands of their officers rather than charge bravely into battle. Guide’s “call to arms speech” was more like a calm, how-to lecture (or cooking show demonstration) on the best ways to kill the church mice. 

“Just remember team,” Guide said as we shit-canned the empty jar of peanut butter and reached for a tube of green, scientifically engineered mouse attracting goo. “The mice are already hooked on free food: kitchen scraps, garage, kiddy crumbs. They’ve been living large in fancy ‘burrows’ under kitchen cabinetry without any predators around to keep their bodies fit and their minds sharp. All we have to do is ride nature’s wave and spur The Action onward to its inevitable climax. Free food is always a trap, and abundant free food is always a recipe for infestation/The Suck of tragedy, crisis, and environmental disaster. History is ripe with examples. Smart creatures, both wild and domesticate, work a little harder to find the undiscovered niche markets the predators have yet to stake out.”  

Should have made this a video. Our guy is still live, swimming in circles.

I listened to her usual lines on the subject of freedom vs. security/wild vs. domestication, but, as usual, I didn’t agree with her. Guide likes to paint my character as the Asshole of our team, but she does that because she’s jealous. I’m better at seeing The Big Picture than she is…and she knows it. I mean, really, she was missing the obvious fact that we were slathering free food on traps in a soup kitchen. Doesn’t The Church sort of run on the idea of feeding and finding civilization—the Dry, Centrally Heated Body of Christ—for all the poor, homeless, wild creatures of earth?   

What would The Church be without its church mice? 

As we set over 250 snap traps under stoves, below cabinets, along walls, on pipes, behind boilers, in storage rooms, and other dark corners where the furry evils dwell, I pondered that question. I’m as much a rat catcher as Guide is, and any rat catcher worth their salt will tell you (likely after a few beers and a few tears) that deep down, they’re sort of rooting for the wild creatures. Real rat catchers don’t really want the mice to stand in line at our traps, eat the free food, and spill their sacred wine. Real rat catchers are half wild creatures themselves, who cross The Magic Line because they want to feed their prey to The Wilderness like an ancient offerings to the gods. For real rat catchers, killing in the name of their customers is just part of the job. No true hero ever delights in the slaying of an honorable foe. Monsters like Orkin Man, Rentokiller, and Terminixor will never understand that. That’s what makes them monsters. 

I know my next line might sound confusing, contradictory, or like “circular logic,” but the wild humans among you will get it immediately: “No one on our team wants the mice to spill their sacred wine, but we’re proud as hell of catching the ones that do.” Our first real trap check service at the old church revealed 23 kills. And we shared that body count with everyone we met that day. “Including the 8 we caught in our fishing traps without really trying…we’re up to 31 already,” we reported to Jamie.  

That was just 31 mice. Jamie had also put us in charge of clearing the rodents from a neighboring house. It had been vacant for some time, and its backyard had often been used for an unofficial homeless camp. In its cold, empty, dimly lit basement we found an entry hole (around a heating vent) leading to and from the house’s inaccessible front porch. It proved to be the perfect rat catching honey hole. I was able to trap and kill two healthy adults right off the bat. 

We were so proud of our body count, we even told the homeless folks who wandered into the basement (right on cue) nearly every time we propped the door open. The first few poked their heads in politely hat-in-hand looking for “services.” Upon investigation, I discovered that “services” was code for free food in the soup kitchen–not the nourishing Word of God. In any case, whatever their deal was, I informed them, matching their politeness almost competitively, that I was just a humble rat catcher/small grain of sand (with 32 confirmed kills). Each time, I asked the service seeker if they wanted to help me clean mouse turds. When they said no, I excluded them from the church by shutting the door that had been opened to them. My favorite service seeker was a friendly guy I met the last time I opened the door, a few minutes before I became fully convinced the service seekers would always be there knocking and waiting for the door to be open to them. He asked me about the art classes. I told him I wasn’t staff—just a humble (but highly skilled) rat catcher. The whole time we were talking he not so slyly slipped pens, paper, and other art supplies from a nearby table into his satchel. I laughed while I watched his show, enjoying the finer arty points of the interaction immensely, before I dusted off my old social worker character and asked him to leave non-verbally (herding him to the door with my actions) all the while apologizing for something in a calm, even, non-threatening tone. 

A month into our service story, Guide turned to us and said something weird. “I can see them now,” she said as we cleared another 5 mice from our traps in the kitchen. 

Pest Predator took off his respirator and replied, “Funny, I don’t smell anything unusual.” 

I looked at my teammates like a sports bro standing in line at a comic book convention. “Say again?” I said, making my best Trump face/you’re-the-idiot (not me) look.

“The mice,” Guide replied without making eye contact. “I can see where they’re running now.” 

“You see the mice!” I laughed. “Are you adding X-ray vision to your list of supereconomic powers?”  

Guide turned to Predator and said, “The traps have spoken.” 

Predator nodded his understanding, leaving me to wonder if I was the “I” in our team who’d been left out of The Loop like a bad boss. After much debate and discussion over a 6 pack of Cascade Ice (because we were, as a team, still officially on another 10 month Adventure in Sobriety), I was able to piece The Action together. Here’s what Guide “saw” in our traps: 

In the dark void, a few inches behind the Tom-and-Jerry hole in back of the Hobart, a few survivors of our trapping efforts (which was now well over 55 dead mice and 3 dead rats!) huddled in mass like shell-shocked refugees of a highflying bombing campaign.  

“I can see him now,” a long lean mouse said to the fat footed one beside her. 

“Say again?” the Fat Footed One replied with a cold, black-eyed stare. 

“I can see the human,” Long Mouse said again. “I know what the rat catcher is going to do next.” 

The other mice nodded agreeably at Long Mouse’s hopeful statement.

“Why do you always have to be so weird,” Fat Foot laughed. “We should be happy he hasn’t used any bait poisons yet. You know how impossible it is to train our corruptible youths to say no to drugs!” 

“In small doses,” Long Mouse shot back, “anti-coagulants can be used medicinally, or to induce spiritual awakenings…” 

“Is that what happened to you?” Fat Foot scoffed. “Did you ingest too much bait, and now you think you’re At One with The Great Rat Catcher in The Sky? Snap out of it. We need to do what we’ve always done: keep quiet, stay in the walls, freeze in place (stand and make The Blank Face Look) when our human masters speak their sacred words, and wait for the offerings of food to fall from Volehalla. Only then will we be loved as Holy Pets, with real parts to play, in this church’s great congregational drama.” 

Suddenly, three mice emerged from the wings of the dark wall void. They all look satisfied, fat and happy with the glow of a good meal.  

“I have received a vision,” Long Mouse replied unaware of the new mice in their midst. “We’re all prey of The Great Rat Catcher in The Sky…who loves us…and wants us to prosper, thrive, and live wild, free, and keep our bodies fit and strong for our parts in The Great Game.” 

When Fat Foot hear that, he roared with laughter. “The Great Rat Catcher in The Sky loves us?! Oh wow, now I know you’ve ingested bait!” 

The three new mice laughed too. The most satisfied of the three, a mouse known as Light Claw, spoke up and said, “We just saw the rat catcher. He is obviously some hack the humans in our congregation hired on Home Advisor to test us. Everyone knows Home Advisor is total bullshit!” 

The second new mouse snickered along with the group and added, “Yeah and we passed our newest test. Our humans placed peanut butter in little cups surrounded by a big flat alter. The answer is, as long as we nibble humbly at The Butter of Life without touching the alter, our humans will continue to offer us their blessings of food and fellowship.”  

“Yes Mouse is right!” Light Claw thundered victoriously. “I got the idea from watching Indiana Jones and The Temple of Doom with the security guards last night. All we have to do to continue receiving our blessings of food from Volehalla is nibble the peanut butter from the cups without touching the Alter of Unbridled Greed. You see, it’s a metaphor. Our human masters are trying to teach us to live a righteous life…as long as we’re not greedy and take what they give to us…we will continue our journey to become their Holy Pets.”    

“Yes!” Yes Mouse cheered. “It’ll be rad! We’ll spend eternity eating The Butter of Life with our human masters in Volehalla!”  

Long Mouse rubbed fur with all the mice in the void, before she flattened her body to the floor, and said, “I don’t know if Volehalla is real, or not; but I do know that human out there isn’t trying to teach us any lessons. Life is not a test. It’s a game, and The Great Rat Catcher in The Sky didn’t send their predator to be our gentle guiding, comfort human.” 

“Predator! You mean that guy out there?” Fat Foot laughed. “That idiot couldn’t catch a rat if it jumped in his lap.” 

“Yeah…and we all know mice are a lot harder to catch than dirty old, nasty street rats…he couldn’t catch us if we jumped in his lap!” 

Light Claw peaked out of their Tom-and-Jerry hole. “Look everyone!” he laughed with delight. “There he is now!” 

“To the choppa!” Fat Foot laughed. 

“What’s he doing?” Long Mouse asked. 

“Not sure,” Light Claw replied. “It looks like he’s fixing something to the bottom of our pantry door.” 

“What an idiot!” Yes Mouse roared. “He’s trying to evict us from our sacred pantry. No way our masters approved that one. As long as church mice have lived in these walls…not one of our human masters have tried to block off our entry holes. Besides, we can get in the back way!” 

“Not any more,” Light Claw reported from the light. “He found the hole behind the fridge. He’s filling it with some kind of gun.” 

The mice suddenly grew silent. While their new reality sank in, Fat Foot spoke up. “He can’t block all our holes…there’s too many…”  

Long Mouse flicked her tail and said, “I don’t think this is another one of your stupid tests. That fucker’s trying to kill us.”  

“You mean the humans hired him to punish us…”

“No,” Long Mouse answered boldly. “I mean that guy’s a rat catcher…our natural predator…who won’t stop until we’re all dead.” 

“Heretic! We’ve interpreted the sacred words of our masters…God put mice on the earth to bring comfort to our human masters…” 

“Our humans wouldn’t kill their Holy Pets! Not without reason!” 

“That would be murder!” 

In that moment, Long Mouse realized her words were meaningless without action. She rubbed fur with her old friends for the last time, and then she ran from the void, through the Tom-and-Jerry hole, into the light of the kitchen like the Dark Lord Satan was nipping at her heels.  

“Hey you, Rat Catcher!” she squeaked at the human standing like a giant above her, holding a foam gun. “Catch me if you can!” 

“Oh my, what a bold creature you are!” Guide said when she saw Long Mouse bolt from the hole. Instead of giving chase, Guide watched her wild creature friend run across the open kitchen, through the kitchen door, to an entry hole on the side of an outer door leading to freedom. 

“Sorry friend,” Guide said with a chuckle. “I already got that one.” 

Then Guide opened the door for her wilderness creature friend. Shocked and surprise, still running with all her might, Long Mouse saw the trees, clouds, and sunshine on the other side of the door. She didn’t wait around to discern the Rat Catcher’s actions. She knew it wasn’t some kind of twisted loyalty test. Long Mouse ran for the open door without another thought, running from her former cozy, predator free home—out into a world she’d never known. The Wildernesswas old as the sun, sky, and grass, but to Long Mouse…it was a brand new, wild frontier fraught with danger, hidden treasure, and adventure.   

“Anybody else?” Guide called into the dark hole.  

Nobody moved. They all stood perfectly still—like they’d done a thousand times before—with their heads bowed (attentive as movie goers) ready for their human masters to drop their daily bread. 

Guide didn’t speak. She didn’t say things—speak in the foreign tongue of The Sacred Word—that inspired the mice to stay quiet and attentive in their roles as Holy Pets behind the walls. Guide didn’t eat food and drop any daily bread to reward them for their roles in the church’s congregation that lived, like an audience, in sacrificial service to the directors (the priests, politicians, and storytellers) who rule The Fourth Wall

She aimed her foam gun in the hole and squeezed the trigger. The black mass of chemical goop erupted in the void like Vesuvius, trapping the mice like a landslide of hot mud, embalming their bodies forever in foam. Guide had finally answered their prayers, pushed The Conflict to its natural climax, and opened the gates of Volehalla to them. They were now forever what they had always become each and every day they spent in sacrificial service to their masters. They were now true Church Mice, ever-lasting parts of The Dry, Centrally Heated Body of Christ.  

In 2 short months, our team at Storysold: Pest Control caught 95 mice, 4 rats, and excluded over 62 entry holes: foaming wall voids, patching the foundation with concrete, installing door sweeps, covering open windows with plywood, and patching the bigger holes with metal and mesh. 

In the midst of The Action on one of our 2 epic exclusion days, we met one of the oldest members of the congregation. He was the church’s former unofficial facilities manager. His name was Tim and he had a grandfather who was also a member of the congregation. I talked with Tim while Guide and Predator exercised their environmental control skills installing a tight fitting door sweep to keep the mice out of the pantry. It takes a lot to make me really listen to any human, but Tim had amazing stories to share, so it wasn’t an effort. Not in the least. He talked about the old church’s Golden Age like the time they built a basketball court on the third floor for the neighborhood youth, only to discover they built the ceiling too low. He smiled when he shared the part where the congregation literally raised the roof to make the court work. 

In The End of any service story, it could be said that most humans work for money. Work is rarely a reward. Work is a “four letter word.” That’s humans. We, the live action characters of earth have no need for pressed and dyed fibers.

[ Never heard of live action characters? In brief, we’re earth’s smallest creatures—the unseen engines of life—who feed on The Action. For more on that check out Guide’s website: ]

All that’s to say, it was Tim, Joey, and Jamie who deposited these lines of literary gold in “our storybank accounts,” which is how you’d say it if good lines, scenes, stories were real currency like it is in The Living City:  

DEPOSIT #1 – Jamie gave us the heartfelt review we display with pride at the beginning of this service story. 

DEPOSIT #2 – Somewhere in our conversation, Tim said, “We’ve had mice in the church off and on over the years…but you’re the first person that I remember who has tried to seal up all the holes.” 

DEPOSIT #3 – “I’ve had mice running across my desk for years,” Joey said to us in passing one day after our traps had gone silent. “When I first heard they hired someone to exterminate the mice, I didn’t expect them to actually go away. But they’re gone. I can’t believe it.”  

It felt good to bank that literary gold from the humans, but the legacy we left in the dark, dim lit basement of the vacant house felt even better. The shiniest of the treasure we earned in this story was the newly formed actions we found on the wild side of the door we built from scraps: 

The keys were found in the wilds under the porch. Super old.

The new door still led to our rat catching honey hole under the inaccessible front porch (and we were still catching rats there after our traps inside had all gone silent), but there was now another scene in production on the other side of that door. Two feet from the edge of the porch at the edge of our honey hole, a congregation of a different sort was growing at the base of a beautiful old oak tree.  

You would never know they were there unless you read this story. They made a point never to gather in mass, or make The Blank Face Look on the audience side of a wall void for their human masters. They dug their own burrows. They gathered their own seeds. They faced their predators at night—always wary of the dangers of silence—and they rubbed fur with their loved ones whenever they could…content with the small wild pleasures The Action had to offer them. 

[ Not actual tree ]

In time, Long Mouse was the only mouse under the tree that remembered Volehalla. She did not gather the youth to her side to spend their precious harvest time reviving the cautionary tales of Church Mice. She didn’t feel any need to lecture them on the dangers of free food or the madness and infestation that follow the actions of Holy Pets.  

When the youth asked her what lived under the porch, Long Mouse simply smiled and said, “Why don’t you ask The Great Rat Catcher in The Sky? Some say he’s still baiting his traps with free food there…” 

And the youth would laugh because they were all old enough to know that The Great Rat Catcher in The Sky—the hawks, the owls, and ferial cats—all the predators of SE Portland circled, stocked, studied, and hunted the wild markets where Long Mouse and her loved ones gathered their seeds. That was just a routine, daily part of The Great Game. The predators worked hard to stay one step ahead of their prey—and they ran, like Long Mouse had ran, with a love of The Actionin their hearts.  

Stories can become pretty infested with bullshit without it. Speaking of which, isn’t it time for us to schedule another service? We have to check our traps. 


The Dialogue


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