Mice and Men

It feels weird waiting for a defenseless mouse to die, especially when it’s slowly dying next to you. The two of you, one alive, the other on the edge of mortality, divided by a thin white wall. The mouse wasn’t much of a threat, but was an annoyance. Imagine being executed for being annoying. It’s terrible and unjust. But what’s more terrible is that my guilt highlights my hypocrisy, because I’m the one who set up the trap.

The trap was made of some adhesive substance spread evenly upon a square plastic base, like cream cheese on toast. I would have bought the classic mousetrap–that wood and metal contraption that delivers a quick death to its victim–but the local bodega is not known for its variety.

It’s a depressing end for a life equally as sad. What kind of life does a mouse lead anyway? Their lives are governed by instincts, not intellect. They scavenge for food, eat, and share the leftovers with the other mice living between my walls. They repeat this natural cycle in the same way I mechanically ride the subway train to my cubicle every morning. We work, we get paid, pay for food, eat the food, and we live another day. Repeat.

Our life revolves around food. Despite what scientists and philosophers say about the wonders of the brain; despite how many poets have composed sonnets about the heart, the stomach is the most influential organ in our body. You can live without the luxuries modern life offers you. You can even live without sex (although, you might go insane). But how long will you live before you die from starvation?

There have been cases where people have resorted to cannibalism when presented with no other choice. The risk of starvation can cause mentally healthy individuals to react in extreme ways. But just like the floor of my cramp New York apartment, our world is filled with traps, placed strategically by the property owners of our hierarchical society.

However, the contraptions we deal with on a daily basis are far more complex than wood, metal and springs. Their traps cost millions of dollars; tried and tested on focus groups and surveys. The traps are everywhere, in front of us, and yet we are clueless, blind and ignorant to the fact.

Just like the sticky adhesive that immobilized the unfortunate mouse, the traps of men will bring a slow, painful death. Just ask the guy over there, outside the federal building, smoking a cigarette, hair balding, dark circles around his eyes, lost in a flurry of thoughts, thinking of the next scheme to get out of his debtor’s pockets.

The body of my victim is rotting. I should throw it into the garbage so I can erase it from my life—my perfect life in my perfect universe. The stench is unbearable. It’s the stench of everything that is wrong in this world.

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