Vermin - Part 2
She knew he was in there. Days earlier she’d seen his little bed. She destroyed
and discarded it in a fit of disgust. But now she was closing in on him. And
with every piece of rotten firewood she took off the pile, she was getting closer
to the rat.
The wood was rotting in a neatly stacked pile when we moved into our new
home. It sat within the small enclosure that housed our trashcans; a little fenced-in
square, maybe 8 feet to a side. Leaves and other detritus had accumulated in the
small space, and my lovely wife was cleaning it up. After all, you can’t have your
trashcans someplace messy.
At first she didn’t think there was a rat in the woodpile. She feared that there
might be. But when she weighed the risk of rat-encounter against the reward of
having a tidy place to store garbage, she decided to press on. One moldy log at
a time, she dismantled the eyesore until her greatest fear was realized –
she saw a rat.
By all accounts, the rat was roughly the size of a Buick. It reared up, shrieked
like a banshee, then escaped under the fence.
My wife screamed. She howled. She jumped and kicked and danced the
Macarena. But the rat was gone. So when she was done hyperventilating, she
decided to press on with the project.
And while her logical mind was telling her that the rat was gone, her feminine
intuition was telling her that maybe the rat was actually still in the pile. Maybe it
doubled back. Maybe it had a secret passage than ran from our neighbors’
yard to our woodpile. Maybe it took the left turn at Alberqurque.
She took no chances. Using a sturdy garden rake, she pulled the logs off the
pile one-at-a-time, thereby creating about a four foot buffer between herself
and the giant rat-who-probably-wasn’t-there-anyway.
Now at this point, I think its important to point out that my wife isn’t exactly
a small person. I don’t mean this disparagingly. She is quite tall and statuesque,
with long arms and legs. And while she is normally a figure of striking beauty
and poise, one might think she looked the slightest bit awkward confined in
this small space, trying to move a pile of wood with a rake.
As she got closer and closer to the bottom of the pile, the whispers of her
subconscious grew louder;
Conversational at first – “You know, that rat might very well still be there;”
Then stern – “Look, lady, you keep this up and a rat is going to pop right
out of this woodpile;”
Then frantic – “Danger! Danger! Vermin alert! Security status MAGENTA!
Repeat, security status MAGENTA!”
Of course, you know what happened. You saw this coming the moment you
started reading. The rat came back.
My wife let out a shriek that was part terror and part rage. She swung the
rake like a battleaxe, smashing into the fence just above the rat. The rat
quickly assessed the situation. He was outgunned and faced a relentless
enemy bent on his utter destruction. So like some rodent version of General
Chamberlain, he charged.
The rat ran up a board, onto the fence crossbeam and right at my panicked
wife. Like something out of a cartoon shooting gallery, the rat ran back and
forth along the crossbeam while my adrenaline-charged wife took wild swings
and jabs with the rake.
Now I don’t want to make fun of the way this might have looked – a very tall
woman in a very small space yelling and swinging a rake at a crazed rat. So
instead of envisioning that, please think of Yao Ming in a full-blown panic attack,
trying to kill a fly in a phone-booth…with a rake.
Nobody will ever really know the terror that the rat experienced that day. But if
it was half of what by poor wife felt, I sincerely hope the rat gets some counseling.
This isn’t the sort of thing one simply forgets.
I have been accused of being a godless heathen, but nothing could be further
from the truth. I believe in miracles, and one occurred that day. Both the rat and
the fence survived…though I may not if my wife ever reads this page.
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