Sunday, January 15, 2006

Rat in me kitchen, part 2: The Shaq rat from Hell

(This is Part 2. Read Part 1 first if you haven't yet.)

The following day, we went down to the local hardware store and bought a rattrap. The only traps they had were live ones, which puzzled me, because who wants a live rat in a trap? What are you supposed to do with it? Anyway, that night, we baited the trap -- with bread, of course -- before we went to sleep. In the morning, the trap was full of an angry dark grey rat. Its greed had been its undoing. I thought I'd seen some big rats before, but this one was humungous. It was roughly the size of a small pony. This was the Shaquille O'Neal of rats. But a mean Shaq, not a friendly smiling one -- the Shaq Rat from Hell. The beast glared at us with fiery black eyes and began bouncing around and biting the bars of the trap when it saw us. I suppose it's just trick of memory that makes me recall it growling at us as well.

As I had foreseen, the question now was what to do with our captive. My companion suggested taking it somewhere and releasing it, but I said that would be irresponsible. It would just run into someone else's house. "Let's leave it outside overnight," he said, "and it'll freeze to death."

"That sounds kind of cruel," I said.

"No," he said, "it'll just go to sleep and never wake up. It'll be very peaceful."

"OK, but it's just about as cold inside as it is outside, and if the rat didn't freeze to death in our kitchen, how's it gonna freeze to death outside?"

"Let's just try it."

"Fine."

"Fine." (A lot of our conversations seemed to end that way.)

So that night, he put the cage outside before we went to sleep. When we went outside to check on it in the morning, the trap was still full of a humungous angry dark grey rat that glared at us with fiery black eyes and began bouncing around and biting the bars of the trap when it saw us. If anything, the beast was even madder than the day before. I suppose it's just a trick of memory that makes me recall it snarling at us.

"That didn't work too well," I said to my companion. "What now?"

"We'll just leave it out some more," he said.

"It's not gonna freeze."

"It will if we leave it out long enough."

"Then it's not gonna freeze, it's gonna starve."

"Dead is dead."

"You can't do that, it's too cruel. It might take a week for a rat to die like that."

"What do you suggest then?"

"We have to drown it."

"Well, I'm not gonna drown it, you drown it."

"Me?"

"Yeah, you. It's your idea."

"Fine."

"Fine."

I got a trash can and filled it with water. I picked up the rattrap. I looked into the eyes of the beast, and the beast stared back at me. "Go ahead," it seemed to say, "make my day."

"Some rats you just can't reach," I said, and dropped the rat, trap and all, into the water. The creature struggled for awhile and then grew quiet. As the beast stopped fighting, it seemed to say "Made it, Ma! Top of the world!" or maybe it was just "Rosebud." Either way, it was now an ex-rat.

So I put the ex-rat in a garbage bag, and we went out and did missionary work all day. We came home and started fixing dinner. While we were cooking, we heard more scuffling noises from under the kitchen floor. We looked at each other. Another rat.

(To be continued…)

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