Kanalstraße 4 - Das Stipendiatenblog des Stuttgarter Schriftstellerhauses

Schöpferisch und friedlich war mein Leben im Schriftstellerhaus. Mit Schwermut verlasse ich den Ort.

— Fuad Rifka, Lyriker, Hölderlin-Spezialist aus Beirut, 2002

Of Mice and Men

Foto: Ron Segal

My Uncle called me up to say that my grandmother has a mouse in her apartment and asked whether I would mind installing some glue mousetraps, which he had bought, and remove the harmless rodent once it gets caught in the trap. I said that I would love to help my grandmother out and install the traps but that I cannot, in good conscience, remove them should the mouse get caught. Glue mousetraps are especially cruel; death is much slower than with the traditional type trap; trapped mice eventually die from exposure, dehydration, starvation, suffocation, or predation. I simply won’t be able, I admitted, to listen to the helpless twitting of the poor thing and stare into its beady black eyes. Just set up the traps then, my uncle said, and I’ll take care of the rest. So I set up the traps – poorly I might add – in the kitchen cabinet and before closing the doors I whispered: Beware, trap!

When I was a child and there was a mouse in our house (we had a small garden) I would insist on using live-capture mousetraps and when the mouse got caught I would mount the trap on my bicycle, ride to my school on a Saturday morning and release the mouse there. Either school would get cancelled or the mouse would pick up Long Division.

On my way out of my grandmother’s I saw the neighborhood cat; a beautiful big tricolor (white-red-black) nicknamed Mitzi who rubs her head against my feet if she can take time off her busy schedule of lying astride on the warm grass, soaking in the Tel Aviv sun. What about you? I said, There’s a mouse in my grandmother’s flat, interested? She wasn’t. And why should she be; she is regularly fed by the neighbors and has no owners to impress. Mice hunting is the business of hungry stray cats or domestic cats who have something to prove.

A few days went by and the mouse wasn’t caught. In the meantime I headed south to the Arava desert with my girlfriend for a much awaited two days vacation. We rented a mud bricks hut inclusive with a bedroom, in-wall furnace, seating area and kitchenette. A hot tub made of desert wood is situated in the yard and can accommodate a couple. At night, after sitting by the bonfire and feasting on our poyke (a cast iron cooking pot which cooks in the fire) dinner we dipped in the hot tub and gazed at the Milky Way which, out here in the desert, illuminates the night sky like a tapestry of endless candles. Although there were some other huts in our vicinity it felt like we were all alone in the desert; two humans marveling at the infiniteness of the cosmos.

When we finally got to bed we fell asleep as soon as we switched off the light. At some point I was awaken by some strange noise. Someone, or more likely something, was nibbling on something next to my ear. I remembered I left a half eaten pack of chocolate on the bedside table. I switched on the light but there was nothing there. Too tired to draw any conclusions I picked up the chocolate, placed it on the kitchen countertop and went back to sleep. Once again I dropped like a stone. And once again the nibbling sound awoke me. Do you think we have a mouse here? I asked my girlfriend who had herself awoken. Sure, she said, What else can it be? I switched on the light and the long tail behind the chocolate pack froze at once. I took one step forward and it leaped behind the wrapping paper, zipped the countertop lengthwise and in a second it disappeared inside the kitchen cabinet. Is this my grandmother’s mouse? I couldn’t help but wonder.

The following morning I called the hut’s administration and reported the incident. Ah, yes, desert mice… said the woman on the phone. It’s a common problem. There is a mousetrap in every hut. When they get caught we take them deep into the desert and release them. No wonder they keep coming back, I thought to myself, they get a decent meal and a ride back home. Come to think about it, the mice that I had captured and released in my school kept finding their way back to our house, getting smarter each time around… It makes you wonder whether live-capture mousetraps weren’t in fact invented by mice themselves as some sort of elaborate rodent public transportation.

When we got back from the desert I called my grandmother to tell her about our nocturnal desert adventure and also to ask what is the current mouse situation in her flat. He’s still here, she said, And so am I. But I am ninety five years old and by the way he’s running around the flat I think that he might have more years left in it than me.

Ron Segal

Ron Segal

Stipendiat 2017
Ron Segal, geboren 1980 in Israel, hat an der Sam Spiegel Film and Television School Jerusalem studiert. Sein Abschlussfilm wurde auf vielen internationalen Festivals gezeigt, das von ihm verfasste Drehbuch vom Goethe Institut ausgezeichnet. Seit 2009 lebt er mit Unterbrechungen in Berlin. Bislang hat er ein Buch im Wallstein Verlag, Göttingen, veröffentlicht: “Jeder Tag wie heute.” Roman. Aus dem Hebräischen von Ruth Achlama. Göttingen 2014.
Ron Segal

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