Many years ago, I got to spend about six months living in tents in the Kosovo region. Now, there are many many reasons why living in a large communal tent for six months isn’t much fun. And one of the more annoying reasons is vermin.
See, our camp was located in what used to be a great big field. And in the great big field there lived a great many mice. Resourceful mice, with a taste for MRE’s, and a rather impressive set of rappelling gear, based on the places that they were able to get into.
At one point we had some candy stuck an large decorative tin can, on top of a television, on top of a plastic storage bin. So this is a good four feet off of the ground, with every surface made of smooth plastic or metal. And mice still got in. I figure they were lowering themselves down from the roof, with some elaborate pulley system, like Tom Cruise in Mission Impossible.
Because of this problem, killing mice soon became a past time adopted by many of my fellow soldiers. It quickly turned into a contest to see who get get the most with one trap, or who could make their own trap, and in one case, who could be the first to kill one with an entrenching tool. I was now living with a detachment of big game hunters.
To dispose of the dead mice, we buried them next to our tent. Soon little tiny grave markers began to appear. One guy made jokes about getting a barbie sized American flag to drape over the bodies. Which coincidentally is the origin of rule #102.
One of the other issues with our living arrangement, that was not tent-based, was that periodically we would have to respond to some sort of emergency. Occasionally these emergencies would happen really really late.
And so it was not that unusual when I was roughly shaken awake in the middle of the night.
“Schwarz, wake up.” Hissed Sgt Batpoop.
“Huh-wha! Flarg?” I responded with amazing coherency all things considered. I began to sit up, and something furry and cold bounced off of my nose.
“Check it out man. I got two, with only one trap.”
As I woke up I could make out two small furry shapes dangling in front of my face.
“Sergent,” I asked with deliberate slowness, “Did you wake me up at…” I checked my watch, “3:45 in the morning, to show me dead mice?” I tried very hard to not sound like I was talking to a frighteningly crazy person. I doubt I succeeded.
In the dim light I could see SGT Batpoop thinking about my question. I could actually see the point where he realized that this was not normal behavior.
“No. Of course not Specialist. Now go back to sleep.”
“‘Okay.” And then I lay awake, dreaming about how bad it was gonna be if SGT Batpoop flipped out in a tent filled with automatic weapons.
The next day my detachment went out and conducted our whole “hearts and minds” business. SGT Batpoop did not join us, but that wasn’t noteworthy. In an effort to make sure that we didn’t burn out, our Commander set up a rotation so that every day a different soldier would get day off. And it just happened to be SGT Batpoop’s turn.
At the end of the day, we got back to our camp and something was amiss. The good SGT was over by his cot, looking sulky and pissed off, and one of the NCO’s that worked in our camp was looking a bit apprehensive. It took a while for the news to filter down to my level.
SGT Batpoop had an entire day to himself. And two dead mice. And so he decided that a constructive use of his time would be to make two little tiny crucifixes. And then nail the mice up to them. He then place these in our mouse graveyard, converting it into some sort of perverse rodent Golgotha. A Captain from another Company saw this and was, to put it mildly, displeased by the new display.
SGT Batpoop was ordered to take it down, and wound up having to speak to several people about why he thought his “Jesus Mice” were an appropriate idea in the first place.
Eventually he was sent back to the states for medical reasons. I don’t know for sure if they were related to the mice incident, but it does seem possible.
Congratulations to Squid Vicious for suggesting this post.