Rats! – Part 1

There is a point in the TV version of Stephen King’s The Stand where the prophetic character, Mother Abigail, states that “There are rats in the corn, his rats.” Though there are chills aplenty in the book and the movie, this is the moment that always sends my creep-o-meter off the gauge.  Something about the image of the evil rats running through the corn just does me in.

Okay, not our rat - but would you rather a rodent corpse or this image?

This is not to say that I do not have some sympathy for all of God’s creatures.  We have a deal, you stay in your area (e g: out of my house, especially my bathroom, and out of my garden) and I will stay in mine.  We have a HUGE and very disturbing spider living under the front eave of the house – he is still here because he has not violated the deal.  Catch him crawling toward a door or window and he is TOAST however.

Several months ago, while working in my sister’s backyard, I was climbing a little stair case when an odd, flipping motion caught my eye.  I looked down to find a rat at my feet, wedged in between the step and the fence – clearly caught. He looked up at me, not with that shifty Rattigan look that rodents tend to have in cartoons, but with an obvious plea in his dewy eyes, “Please, help me!”

My family had gathered around the spot by this time, in answer to my initial blood-curdling scream upon noticing that odd motion at my feet was connected to something furry. We looked at the creature, wondered how to get him out of his predicament, cried – real tears – because the little thing looked so pathetically like someone’s pet that was suffering intolerably. Of course, not one of us wanted to actually touch it. But still, it needed help.

My brother-in-law saved the day, if not the rat, by using the handle of a shovel to move it out from it’s place between the fence and step.  He then took the rodent to the front yard, where he humanely assisted it out of this life. I thought I heard the shovel clang loudly, but I am not certain.  We do not speak of it.

For the last few weeks, inside my own garage, I have been doing battle with another string-tailed gray intruder. Or several. It seems the residents of the once abandoned house up the hill have been encouraged to move since the renovations started on tree removal day. Warm weather, no A/C, and an open garage door were the perfect invitation for these crawlers to relocate to my premises.

At first, they were pretty stealthy. I heard loud noises late at night and would go out in the morning to find that things from the highest shelves in the garage had found their way to the floor. I didn’t see a rat, or droppings for several days. Then the rat (I hoped it was just one) got bolder. He ate his way through a bag of bird seed on the workbench. A bag of rice on the pantry shelves.  In short, he declared war.

To be continued….

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