I hate rats.
We had one once. Its’ name was Pesky.
But this wasn’t any old ordinary pet shop rat, you understand.
This was a wild, field rat.
One evening, I was on the phone to a friend in my bedroom. I looked up and simply watched this rat trot across our landing.
Calm as you like.
It went out of my view and while I sat, horrified and dumbstruck, it must have turned around.
Because it trotted back again.
I started shouting for my husband who, as is the way with husbands, wasn’t paying attention because he was watching baseball with headphones on.
I had to keep an eye on the rat while trying to keep calm while trying to propel my husband into some kind of action.
It was hard.
I got a broom, he made some strange noises.
And we managed, while attempting to scare it outside with special ninja moves we practice on a Saturday night, to drive the thing into the pantry.
We shut the door to ponder our next move.
It was a holiday weekend and rat catching people don’t seem to work on holiday weekends.
Someone we knew who lives far away and does this kind of thing, told us to close all the doors, put towels against all of them and hang tight.
The next day, after a fitful night of sleep, I was woken up by one boy wanting to know where his favorite cereal was.
‘Where were you looking?’
‘In the pantry?’
‘Did you shut the door?’ My voice was rising in panic.
Shooing my husband into action again, and with a lot of banging later, the pantry was pronounced a rat-free zone. More greatness.
Now we had a rat roaming the house.
My husband then declared the pantry fit for use. I responded by telling him I had no faith in his judgment.
I wasn’t going to be rifling among the tins only to come upon a rat.
The four of us got in a fireman’s ladder. My husband in the pantry, the two boys, and me, naturally, the furthest away.
We only got a few tins out when my husband cried (and thereby proving the justification of my earlier response,)
“The rat!” It was hopping over cans.
The boys crowded around, “Where? Where?”
Me, “Shut the door! Shut the bloody door!”
The door was shut.
And once again, we knew where the rat was.
We did the rolled up towel thing and put it under the pantry door.
And I ruminated on my bizarre life where I eat a family dinner knowing that just a few feet away, a field rat feasts on the contents of my pantry.
The next day, it was the day of the boys birthday party.
Thankfully taking place in a park.
As I left the house, I noticed the towel at the pantry door had been chewed and moved. I cringed.
We’d lost it again. It. could. be. anywhere.
I never wanted that party-in-the-park to end.
This time we had dinner not knowing where the blasted thing was.
We lived like this for FIVE days until a pest control person could fit us in.
It was like living with a terrorist.
I was on perpetual alert.
We never knew where or when it would show itself. I never knew if it was going to jump out at me. Every time I put my hand in a cupboard or a drawer, I peered, I cringed, I peered again. I would examine everything for signs of rat.
And when I shut the kids bedroom doors at night, I didn’t know if I was keeping a rat out or shutting it in. With my child.
I certainly didn’t go in the pantry.
It was the longest few days of my life.
On the fifth day, the rat catcher man came. He was small and wiry. He had no teeth. I was in love. He was my hero.
I left the house and some time later, my husband called to tell me the rat catcher man also had twins.
‘What the hell! I don’t care if he’s Octomom’s sperm donor, just find the damn rat!’
I was at the end of my tether.
‘He thinks it’s gone.’
This is when I just about lost it.
Divorce. The first murder-suicide ever to strike our small city. These thoughts were running through my mind.
‘Thinks it’s gone?’
I refused to go back to the house until the man whose presence on this earth was looking increasingly fragile either saw, with his own eyes, the rat running outside.
Or a dead body.
Preferably the rats.
My cleaning lady found the rat cowering underneath the dishwasher. I forgave her her transgressions and left her a tip that day. Nobody should have to deal with someone else’s rat. Man, I didn’t want to deal with my own.
The rat was dealt with. Swiftly and cleanly.
I returned and cleaned the house from top to bottom. I was so relieved I called my mum who also hates rats. I told her the story from beginning to end, expecting some comfort and support for a battle well fought. Her response?
‘You know, Alison, rats usually travel in pairs…’ Arrgghh!
How do you feel about rats? Or spiders? Or other little creatures? Perhaps we can trade – I don’t mind spiders at all. Let me know in the comments!
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