To Kill A Mockingbird. Not Really—It Was A Rat.
We killed an animal on Saturday night. We had to. It was lurking in our bedroom without having been invited.
When I say we killed it I mean my husband did.
I hate killing things.
I carry spiders outside. I insisted on catch and release of the skunks that were torturing our dog earlier this year, and I absolutely refuse to let my husband shoot the crows even though one of them barfed up the nauseatingly smelly guts of partially digested roadkill all over my car windshield the other day.
So, yeah. Even when you provoke me—I won’t kill you. Well, not intentionally. At least not until this year.
If you read this blog you know how real the struggle has been to eradicate our rat infestation. For the past year, we could give that temple in India, the one devoted to rats, a run for the title of Most Rat Infested place on Earth.
We have an exterminator on salary, we were forced to cut the gorgeous Bougainvillea on our back fence down to the nub after they ignored all of our eviction notices, and I myself chased one out of the house in a drugged up stupor (me, not the rat—long story) which was asinine because it probably had survivor sex and three weeks later—more rats!
Even our beloved housekeeper, Maria (aka The Rat Assassin) has tears tattooed on her face like murders do in prison.
It all started while I was brushing my teeth before bed on Saturday night. I tend to wander while I brush and so I saw the little fucker out of the corner of my eye at the exact same moment as our dog Ruby and my husband Raphael. They were on the bed engaged an almost inappropriate display of affection when Ruby went all meerkat. (That’s what we call it when her head shoots up at attention and she starts frantically sniffing the air.)
“Uh oh,” I heard my husband utter as the three of us simultaneously spotted the rat running along the wall across from the bed. Does anyone else here feel like “Uh oh” is the understatement of the year when you discover a rat had taken up residence in your bedroom—at ten o’clock at night?
“Awwwww, fuck!” I yelled, spitting toothpaste everywhere. (A much more appropriate response, don’t you think?)
“How did he get in?
How long has he been in here?
Where has he been hiding?
OH shit! Do you think he’s been living under the BED?”
My husband wasn’t even listening. He was up getting a weapon.
I ran to spit and rinse. Then I dashed out of the room shutting the door behind me to keep the rat bastard contained…IN MY BEDROOM!
A grenade, I thought. I have to find a grenade. If that rat has been living under my bed well…maybe napalm. Clearly, we have to napalm the place and start over. Duh.
Ruby and I cowered, she outside and me in a dark hallway while my brave and heroic husband did broom battle with the rat. We could hear it and I have to tell you despite what you’re thinking—it actually sounded like a fair fight. When we timidly tiptoed back inside after being given the all clear, we were both traumatized—pale and shaky.
Even my husband who has put many a dying animal out its misery was affected. “I killed an animal tonight,” he said. He doesn’t usually say shit like that. It was weighing on him.
As I saged every freakin’ corner of that room to dispel the dead animal juju, so I could merely entertain the idea of sleep—I wondered why in the hell animals put us in such a horrible position?
I remembered hitting a squirrel after it froze and then at the last-minute made the shitty, life-ending decision to run under my left rear tire. That dull thump, thump, haunted me for weeks. Once we saw a man finishing off a dear after it ran in front of his car, demoing the front end. I was even reminded of a conversation I had with a lovely woman at a party recently who was grieving the loss of their family dog who suffered from cancer and had to be put down.
Why do these animals use us as their exit strategy? It sucks. Hard.
Why do they choose to cross a highway at all? What in the name of God is so important they have to get to the other side?
Why do they cross streets in the first place? The memo that explains how deadly cars hitting soft, furry bodies can be has had decades to circulate.
Why do they linger when they’re sick? Why do they force us into making such a horrendous decision?
And why for the love of all things holy is the entire great outdoors not enough for a rat to enjoy? Why did it have to come inside—into our bedroom?
These are just a few of life’s great questions. If you have a clue I’d love to hear it.