Oh Rats

By: Angela Gillaspie Copyright © March 2000

Innocently, I opened the cabinet door to get the 409 cleaner out from under my sink. Reaching into the darkness, I pulled out the familiar white bottle and then I stopped dead in my tracks. All around the bottles of cleaner, drain-o, and plant fertilizer I saw tiny dark-brown pellets. "No. Not here. Not in my house," I said to myself. I poked deeper behind the Windex, ant spray, and fire extinguisher and saw a generous sprinkling of ... ? No. I won't allow the distasteful thought to go any further.

Still in denial, I started pulling all the items out from under my kitchen sink and eyed them suspiciously. "Something's leaking, yeah," I tried to convince myself. The insecticide, fertilizer, Brillo pads, and other items were intact. No holes and no teeth marks were present. It had to be the unthinkable -- a mouse.

With revulsion and horror, I threw the implements back under the sink and fastened the child-proof (but obviously not mouse-proof) lock on the cabinet door, and reached for the telephone. My heart hammered in my chest and I mis-dialed my husband's work telephone number three times before getting it right. My husband answered and I immediately launched into, "OH-NO-we've-got-rats! Big mutant forty-pound rats! There's rat poop all over the house!" I paused to clutch my heaving chest and added, "There are RATS IN MY HOUSE! OH MY GAWD! You need to come home right now!"

Silence answered me.

"Hello?" I asked.

"Rats? Honey? Are you sure they are rats?" he asked.

Calming down a wee bit I admitted, "Well, the poop was small, but I know mouse poop when I see it."

"Oh, so we have a MOUSE not a RAT," he answered. He then asked, "Where did you see the droppings? All over the house?"

"Uh, well, no. Just under the sink," I sheepishly replied. "But daggone there was a bunch of it! I don't know what in the world these rats -- uh mice have been eating. When will you be home?"

"For mouse poop, you want me to come home?" he snorted, "I can't, Hon; as much as I'd like to come and look at the poop under the sink -- I just can't. I have another training session. If it would make you feel better, call the pest control guy."

Petulantly I replied, "Fine. I'll call Bug Man."

The receptionist at the pest control agency took my number and told me that Bug Man would call me soon. Partially relieved, I walked back into the kitchen and suddenly felt that I needed to sanitize everything with bleach. The telephone rang and I quickly answered it. It wasn't Bug Man -- it was an accountant asking if I could fix his inventory data-gathering program (I work out of my home as a programmer, by the way). Trying to sound calm and failing, I practically screamed at him, "I CAN'T! I HAVE RATS IN MY HOUSE!" Clearing my throat, I added, "Uh, I'll call you back in a bit." I jotted down the name of the job that was bombing, and went back to my cleaning frenzy.

Again opening up the child lock on the cabinet, I quickly reached in and grabbed the bleach. I pondered sweeping up the little 'pellets of love' the rat--err--mouse left, but I figured that if I cleaned it up, my dear one would come home from work, peer into the dark recesses under the sink, scratch his hindquarters and proclaim, "I see no droppings, therefore there are no mice! Take leave of me woman, and fetch supper!" No. He will see them -- oh yeah. I almost took a picture with the digital camera, but I had a kitchen to decontaminate and an unhappy accountant waiting on me to fix his inventory run.

Finally Bug Man called. He told me that he would come to my home as soon as he could to put out some traps. Hanging up the phone, I was disappointed. I thought he would blaze in through the front door and ... well, I really didn't know what he was going to do, actually, but I'd hoped it would involve the act of carrying mice corpses out of my home.

After an hour of trying to decipher what this programmer was thinking back in 1983, the doorbell rang. My three-year-old, Nicky stood in front of the opened door and said to Bug Man, "Mommy's got rats in day-er."

We walked into the kitchen and I began describing the harrowing scene under the sink and what a heartless and insensitive man my husband was because he didn't rush home to comfort me during this time of crisis. Nodding solemnly and afraid to say anything, Bug Man opened the cabinets. "Yup, I see droppings," he commented.

Bug Man said, "You have mice, not rats." "Yeah, OK, well, they're in my home and I want them GONE," I added as I clutched a struggling Nicky to my breast. Bug Man grabbed his flashlight and began looking around my counters and around the baseboards on the other side of the sink, where, incidentally my desk and computer are located. This is my 'office' where I spend 90% of my time. Peering behind my large oak desk, he grunted, "Mmm, I see droppings back here too."

"You mean ... there are RATS next to me where I work?!?" I shrieked. Bug Man said, "No ma'am, you don't have rats, you have mi--" I interrupted him and said, "I don't care -- get them out!"

He replied, "Well, this is what I can do -- I will put out some glue traps under the sink and behind your desk and then you -- or your husband -- can check them in a day or so. They aren't poisonous and you can just throw them away."

I blinked and asked, "So the ra--uh--mouse sticks to this gummy stuff and you just toss it in the garbage?" He headed toward the door and said, "Yup."

Oh.

He leaves and I suddenly start imagining myself in Edgar Allan Poe's The Tell-Tale Heart:

I throw the squirming mouse into the garbage and ... "Oh God! what could I do? I foamed - I raved - I swore! I swung the chair upon which I had been sitting, and grated it upon the boards, but the noise arose over all and continually increased. It grew louder - louder - louder! " ... from the depths of the garbage can.

For the rest of the evening, I buried myself in Visual Basic code and my kids' homework. It worked, and the rat--mice were forgotten. Amazingly, the night went by peacefully.

The next morning, I kissed my husband, my eight-year-old Ashley, and my six-year-old Josh bye and they loaded into my hubby's truck for the trip to school. Pouring myself a cup of coffee, I remembered, "Oh the traps!"

Slowly I unlocked the latch on the cabinet and cautiously peered behind the bleach and fire extinguisher -- nothing. I didn't figure there would be anything anyway. I walked around and looked behind my desk. Little black beaded eyes blinked up at me. To again quote Poe, "... a cry, at first muffled and broken, like the sobbing of a child, and then quickly swelling into one long, loud, and continuous scream, utterly anomalous and inhuman - a howl - a wailing shriek, half of horror and half of triumph ..." Yes. This described the sound I made as I tore through the house aiming for the front lawn to catch my husband who was just now pulling out of the driveway.

Unlocking the door, I chased him down the street in front of our house, flagging my arms up and down. There was no way I was going to spend the day with a rat--mouse stuck in goo IN MY HOUSE. Nope. Not gonna do it.

He stopped and quickly rolled down his window, "What now? Are you crazy?" he so sensitively asked.

"OH MY GAWD! A RAT! THERE'S A RAT IN MY HOUSE! YOU HAD BETTER GET IT OR I'M CALLING 9-1-1!" I shrieked. The kids down at the bus stop stared up at us, and I imagine I probably awakened the neighbors (who all now know that I have rats in my house).

He backed into the driveway and turned off the engine. "C'mon kids, let's help Momma," he said. Squaring his shoulders, he walked in and I pointed to my desk, "It's th-th-THERE!"

Ashley said, "Can we keep it? Oh, it's so cute!" Josh added, "Can I put it in jar and take it to school?" Ashley asked, "Can I pet it?" I leapt up on the counter and screamed, "NO!" My brave hubby said, "Oh gosh! It's still alive. I need ... something to pick it up with. Hand me the tongs I use to cook steaks with."

Whimpering and shifting my weight from foot to foot while wadding my shirt up in my hands, I absolutely refused to come down from my perch until that critter was out of my house. Sliding along the counter, I let go of my shirt long enough to pull the tongs off the hook and toss them to my manly mouse massacre-er. "You will throw those away when you ... get done with them," I commanded.

He gingerly picked the mouse up with tongs and quickly walked outside. Ashley and Josh were hot on his trail whining about not having a pet. He paused at the back of our yard and then flung the mouse and goo over the fence where it stuck to a pine tree.

Gulp.

He pecked me on the cheek and said, "I'm late. Bye." And then they were gone, leaving me in a house with a sleeping preschooler and ... a rat hanging upside down in a pine tree next to my fence.

After a couple of hours, I got up enough nerve to go and look at the rat--mouse, I mean. With a golf club in my hand, I inched toward the pine tree where I found an empty goo trap. The mouse was gone!

I imagine that the mouse probably called a committee meeting with all of his little rat friends and they are going to invade my kitchen sink cabinets in the not-too-distant future and seek revenge. I have more goo strips and Bug Man's beeper number. If all else fails, I can get a cat.

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Copyright © 2000, 2001, Angela Gillaspie
Revised - 02/06/01
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