In spring a young pest’s fancy turns to food

A mouse, a mosquito, and a milk snake walk into a bar.

Well, that’s how it would begin if it were a joke. But this is real life. So actually, it’s like this: 

A mouse, a mosquito, and a milk snake scamper, buzz, and slither into a bar.

“What’ll ya have?” the bartender asks.

“Can we get food at the bar?” the mouse squeaks.


“I’ll have the cheese plate.”

The bartender looks at the mosquito.

“Bloody Mary,” the mosquito hums.

“You?” the bartender says to the milk snake.

“I’m hungry enough to eat a mouse.”

The mouse snorts. “I’d like to see you try.”

“Eggs,” the milk snake hisses.

“How do you want ’em?” the bartender asks.


The bartender goes off to prepare.

“So here we are,” the mouse says. “Spring in Ipswich. Got any big plans?”

“Annoyance,” the mosquito replies. “Backyard barbecues are my big target this year. People are distracted — dads are grilling, moms are swilling, kids are filling water balloons and bombing each other. Nobody’s paying attention to a possible pinprick from my proboscis. As far as I can see, Ipswich in the spring is just acres and acres of epidermis waiting to be poked.”

The mosquito turns to the mouse. “How about you? Got a springtime strategy?”

“Surprise and speed,” the mouse says. “Targeting antique houses. Emphasis on the kitchen. All kinds of nooks and crannies under the sink cabinet and behind the cupboard. I always used to just hide out, gnaw my way into the box of Ritz crackers in the middle of the night, that sort of thing. But not this year. I’m going for excitement. This year I’m going to sneak out at mealtime, let them get a look at me, then dash away to safety. I love the screaming. On a good day, they’ll jump up from the table and splatter their cabernet all over their cacciatore.”

“You know they’ll lay traps,” the mosquito observes.

“‘The only rule is don’t be boring,’” the mouse retorts. “‘Life is too short to blend in.’ Paris Hilton said that.”

The milk snake arches what would be his eyebrows if he had eyebrows. “You’re risking your life for a Paris Hilton quote?”

“Hey, ‘life is too short’ is not philosophy for me. I’m a mouse. My life expectancy is only 18 months.”

“I’d kill to have 18 months,” the mosquito grumbles.

“Whine, whine, whine,” the milk snake sneers.

The bartender brings the order. The mouse dives into the cheese. The milk snake annihilates the eggs. The mosquito snorts the Bloody Mary one long tube-slurp at a time.

The milk snake burps.

“I guess I should feel badly for you little losers,” he snickers. “I’m spending this spring exactly the way I spend every spring: hanging out in the garden, waiting for someone to come along and mistake me for a rattler. Then they go shrieking into the house, tapping like crazy on their device, wailing in terror to the entire social media universe.”

“Until somebody comes back in the Comments section and straightens them out,” the mouse chuckles: “‘No rattle, dope. Just a milk snake. Harmless!’”

The mosquito slurps the last of the Blood Mary.

The bartender brings the bill. “Anybody need anything else?”

The milk snake slides down off the stool, turns back toward the bar, and gulps down the mouse.

“‘Harmless,’” the milk snake mutters, gliding toward the door.

“I guess I’m buying,” the mosquito sighs. “What do I owe you?”

Doug Brendel lives in the vermin-infested wilderness of outer Linebrook in Ipswich, Massachusetts. Follow his real-life adventures at

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