Here’s the short version:
A rat was living in my house.
So I brained it.
And afterwards, I drank the rat’s blood for spiritual strength and to pay homage to the ancient God of redemption, Sháktü-tiki-tä.
Ok, I made the last part up.
But most of it is true. It went like this:
To begin with, let me say I’ve never really had any animosity towards rats. My dad’s a doctor, my mother a science teacher and my brother’s in med school, so cute little lab rats are just a part of our lives. We even view them as helpful little guys.
But, of course, I’d never had one living in my home before.
And at first, I thought I just had a mouse problem.
I’d heard the frickin’ thing sneaking around in my kitchen each night. (Nothing like hearing a vermin frolicking through your kitchen drawers while you try to sleep. After a while you can even visualize it: “Yep, that must be the forks he’s crawling over now… ooops, he knocked over the salt shaker…”) Twice I even saw it scramble along the walls of my living room as it ran for cover. It wasn’t huge, but it was clearly not just a mouse. Maybe a body of 5-6 inches with a long tail, another 8 inches. With a little research, I found out he was coming in through a space behind my toilet in the bathroom. I plugged it up with a broken umbrella I had, but by the next night he’d chewn through that, leaving scraps of nylon everywhere, and proving to me his tenacity. I gave it another night or two in case he moved on to another abode, but it was clear he was making my apartment his bitch, and there wasn’t enough room for the two of us in my 400 square foot kingdom. So, after a call to my landlord proved fruitless since he was out of town and unavailable to assist in my visitor’s removal, I headed to town to buy murder weapons. I didn’t want to poison him and have him rot in the walls. And soon I’d discover that rat traps are hard to find. So I had to go with small mousetraps. I figured it would still snap the fucker’s neck.
It would of course prove to be a dreadful miscalculation.
I set up the trap and left my apartment for an hour or so. Sure enough, when I came back the punk was snared. But as I went to pick it up and throw him out, I realized the son-of-a-bitch was still alive. Legs kicking, trying to break free. The trap was too small so it failed to pin him from behind his neck, and instead just kind of dented his skull, so he was still alive in some sense. It seemed that if I tried to pick the trap up, it might just slip off his head and he might scramble around my apartment and die in a corner, or just get free and continue to hold my place hostage if he wasn’t really hurt. So I figured I’d shut the bathroom door, just leave it till morning and hope the brain damage killed him.
No suck luck.
When I opened the door to my bathroom in the morning, the son-of a bitch had dragged himself to a different corner of the floor and laid shits all over the place throughout the night. He was apparently not going down without a fight. And I kind of half-respected the bugger.
So: what to do? I couldn’t scoop him up because he was in a corner and I was still convinced that lifting the trap would inadvertently set him free and he would sneak into my bed some night and chew off my penis or whatever else he would select as his revenge. So, as an example of my lack of expertise in this area, I figured I should try to poison him. I scoured through the cabinet for my most toxic liquid. A moment later, I had a bottle of bleach in my hand. (I actually contemplated using my Arm & Hammer baking soda from my fridge, thinking it kind of looked like Anthrax and was good at removing toxic smells—which basically described my rat—but since it was powder, I worried a liquid was required here.) My blood pressure and nausea mounting, I figured I should just get this over with. So I tore into the bathroom and poured bleach on the bastard’s head, somehow hoping enough would go down his mouth, nose, ears, etc, that he’d be dead in a minute. But the toxicity of the bleach instead gave him the strength of a wild rabid wolf, and he began kicking and flopping for his life, trying to break free of the trap. I couldn’t tell if I’d given the fellow a generous enough portion of bleach and should maybe dump some more, but instead I just quickly shut the door and hoped he’d croak soon. Yet from the other side of the door, I could hear him flopping around like a fish out of water. Apparently I’d given him the one final adrenaline rush that would enable him to get free. The sound of him smacking the trap around behind the door was going to drive me crazy or make me vomit if it went on another minute. I opened the door again and looked in. Suddenly, he was upright and starting to free himself. In another minute, he’d be free and all this shit would have gotten me nowhere.
As a decidedly non-violent man, I had refrained from the possibility of just clubbing him right from the start, but the thought was beginning to seem my only option. I’m pretty queasy in general and really didn’t relish the thought of mopping up rat brains from my floor, but now the fucker was going to escape and continue to have free reign over my house—with all the vengeance of a rat version of Rambo. My pulse at approximately 175, I paced through the house for ten seconds and found a piece of wood, a foot-long 2x4 scrap from the cheap kitchen table I was building. With Jack Nicholson in my eyes and Kubrickian abandon in my veins, I ripped open the door one last time, saw him crawling along the floor and starting to kick the trap off his head; he was within seconds of freedom.
But then again, so was I. In fact, I was only one swift, accurate, deadly swing away from getting my life back. Summoned the spirit of Martin Sheen’s character from Apocalypse Now when he went in to bludgeon Marlon Brando to death, I bravely entered the bathroom, in my personal own quest to remove corruption and evil from the world around me.
Steam erupting from my ears, I raised that 2 x 4 over my head and swung decisively, cracking his skull, snapping his neck, and sending him on a one-way trip to oblivion—not, however, without a quick layover at a destination that involved an awful series pre-mortem muscle spasms, including one where his tail stuck straight up into the air for ten quivering seconds. And damn was it really a long tail, maybe 9 inches, I could see now. But 30 seconds later, the beast was slain and I could get on with my life—the most important part of which now would be finding the proper therapist to help me work through my posttraumatic stress. But by the time I’d cleaned up the ‘mess’, I was feeling like a triumphant soldier returning from war. It was if I’d emerged from some primitive, tribal initiation rite to earn sovereignty over my domain. (I may now be a serial killer, of course, so we’ll have to wait and see.) But it felt good. It felt powerful.
So I went out for a 6 mile run.
Fastest I’d run in months.
And I returned home to my apartment. My apartment. Not the-rat’s-and-my apartment.
I even celebrated that night by inviting over a few friends for some beers—though I neglected to inform them why the special occasion.
Later one emerged from the bathroom waving a hand in front of his nose, advising, “Hey man, next time you clean your toilet, go a little easier on the bleach. Oh, and it looks like you spilled chocolate sprinkles in there or something.”