Dinosaur Trader is a stock trader. He writes about the daytrading lifestyle, parenthood, marriagehood and the often combustible mixture of the three. Despite his mole-slaughtering ways, he’s quite friendly.
(Note: Yesterday I mentioned that I had killed a mole. I caught some flak for that. This post serves as an explanation.)
Leo had many outbuildings on his property. We walked through the wet grass to a barn. He swung open the doors. It was all wood and warm inside and the walls were hung with gardening tools.
“The kids used to sleep here when they were young,” he said. “There’s a loft. Guess they never thought we’d check, but they drew marijuana leaves in chalk on the wood rafters. This was in the 70s…” He drifted away momentarily into thought and then returned. “The traps are in the back” he said.
He lifted a trap out of a milk crate. “I hate these things. They remind me of the punji traps in Nam.” Leo was a veteran.
The trap was pretty medieval looking but simple. Trigger and teeth.
“I don’t use them anymore…” he said. “Anyway, take however many you want. They’re all oiled up and ready to go.” The crate had about 10. I took 5 and thanked him.
I was excited.
The mole had been tunneling under my moss and making it impossible for me to mow the lawn. I’d push the mower, hit one of his raised tunnels and it would explode like a dust bomb in my face, blinding me and stalling out my mower. This was merely a nuisance. But when I learned that moles, like mice, carry tick-borne illnesses, I decided he had to go.
I took the traps to the lumpy area of the lawn where the mole was most active. I set them. They looked like miniature oil derricks. Over the next few days, my neighbors started asking questions.
“What the hell are those things?” my neighbor Jim, who blows his leaves onto my property asked.
“Mole traps,” I said.
“What do you have against moles?” he asked.
“They carry diseases that can be transmitted by ticks,” I said.
“Why not just kill the ticks instead?” he wondered.
I didn’t have the energy to explain. I just shrugged my shoulders.
Another neighbor, the 75 year old woman who had shown me pictures of herself as a naked 23 year old, thought I was heroic. “I don’t know how you men do it,” she said. “I can’t kill a mosquito without feeling queasy.”
Anyway, days went by. Each day I’d walk out and check the traps. Nothing was happening. I would tweak them here and there, making sure they were set right and changing their location. Judy hated the whole idea. She kept telling me to bring them in. Of course, when the trap finally snapped, I was with her and my daughter in the playroom. I guess it sounded like how a guillotine might sound. Judy cringed.
My heart started to thump.
Not knowing exactly what I would find, I walked into the garage and got a spackle bucket. I also grabbed a large stick. I figured I’d get to the trap, lift it, the dead mole would drop lifelessly by my feet, and I’d sort of shove it into the bucket with the stick. Then I’d just dump the thing in the garbage.
Judy and my daughter were watching from the window. Judy was shaking her head. I knew that I had to be manly about the situation and take charge. I had to make it look easy. The mole had to die happily and without pain, sort of like a free-range chicken. I can’t really underscore how much Judy hated this whole idea. She’s a vegan yoga teacher for chrissakes and here I was slaughtering cute mammals on her front lawn.
I walked up to the trap and yanked it up. Instead of finding a mole attached to the “teeth” there was nothing. I was momentarily confused until I looked down at the ground. There was a tiny flesh-colored hand poking out of the dark dirt.
There was a little blood on it. It was moving. Struggling.
I could feel the weight of Judy’s stare. I chose not to look up at her. Instead, I ran to the garage, grabbed a spade shovel, and levered it into the ground to dig the mole up. I put my foot down on the shovel, pushed it under the mole and then put my weight on the handle to pull it toward the ground.
The ground released the mole reluctantly. He popped a couple of inches into the air and landed a foot away from where the trap had been.
A mole above ground is a pathetic thing. They’re essentially blind. All fur and hands. Their hands are huge in relation to the rest of their body and oddly human-like. The mole didn’t try to run. He sort of, well… he quivered.
The trap had only injured him. I wasn’t going to nurse him back to health, and I wasn’t going to let him slowly die either. I took the stick and bashed his head. Once, then twice. He bounced each time. I laid the bucket on its side and shuffled his dead body in with the stick. I finally looked up at Judy and my daughter.
Judy looked concerned. My daughter, was euphoric.
She burst out of the house. “Lemme see the mole! Lemme see the mole!”
But a real sadness was creeping over me. I felt pretty awful. I showed her the mole but oddly, immediately missed its presence. We buried it under a tree and wrote on a rock, “The mole tree.”
Judy surprised me by being sympathetic. I thought she’d be angry. She said, “That must have been hard for you.” She wasn’t being sarcastic or mean. In a way, that made it harder.
The next day I returned the traps to Leo. I told him I wouldn’t be needing them again. I could tell, by the way he looked at me, that he understood. He took the traps, limped them back to the barn, and locked them back up with his happier memories of the 1970s.