An Uninvited Guest

This is not a fairy tale. This is not a story of how we found a rat in our home and came to love and coexist alongside the once-terrifying creature. We did not learn to overlook the scraggly brown hair and skeletal, grisly hands. We did not let the rat teach us how to cook, though we are sure he spent a lot of time in our kitchen trying to find food that we might have forgotten to secure. No, this is not a happily ever after kind of story. At least, not for the rat. I, however, am quite pleased to be once again inhabiting my house with the pleasure of knowing that human is the only species that exists therein. So, if I still have your attention, I will begin with a pile of dirt.

After about a week of having construction workers in and out of my house installing new windows, painting the basement, and a few other small projects, my house was finally empty. I could make it my own again. I began by putting back furniture, cleaning the kitchen, and admiring our newly cleaned and painted basement. Large plastic tarps the painters used to protect our belongings were still there, but the difference the paint made was incredible. I began to envision a clean area to store extra food and water and holiday decor. Until I saw the pile of dirt.

The pile of dirt appeared seemingly overnight. There was a small hole in our basement floor which I had never thought twice about. After hearing a strange sound of plastic rustling in our basemen the night before, and coming down to see this strange pile of dirt around the hole in the floor, I was creeped out. That’s the only way to describe it. At first I thought “oh, maybe the workers had to dig around this pipe when they installed the new water heater, and just didn’t think to get rid of the dirt.” But it was a lot of dirt. And that night, I heard the rustling again. I told my husband, who hurried downstairs, put his ear to the basement doorway, and listened to the sound.

“It is probably just an animal,” he said. Then he went back to bed. Why the idea of an animal in our basement didn’t bother him can probably be attributed to the fact that I’d just woken him up and he was still foggy. So when the rustling began again, I slipped on my shoes, opened the camera on my phone, and shakily descended the steps.

There, as I peered at the plastic tarp the painters had left, was the source of the rustling. But what kind of animal was doing it? I crept forward, camera aimed toward the pile of dirt, and nearly dropped my phone as a rat scurried out from under the tarp and down into the dirty hole in our basement floor. I ran upstairs, examined my video, and could see that I’d just barely captured it. I sent it to my husband and said “it’s a rat!!” and he ran downstairs to the rescue.

Sure enough, my husband (brave enough to get close to the hole), saw that there was a pretty substantial entry point for rats there. He grabbed some bricks from outside and tried to stuff the hole up best he could, and I went and washed dishes and tried not to think about the rat with it’s teeth and claws and disgusting fur that probably only ever saw sewer water for a bath.

The only thing playing in my mind that night as I tried to fall asleep was the scene from lady and the tramp where tramp rescues the brand new baby from a rat. Did I need to get a dog? Was the rat going to want to eat my babies??

Photo by slyfox photography on Unsplash

The next morning the plastic tarp was completely gone. The rat had gotten through the brick barricade and stolen it. My husband came home that night and filled the hole with concrete, solving all of our rat problems forever!

I was so happy. I told everyone about how Connor had sealed up the hole. I thanked God for a hubby who didn’t hesitate to take care of the problem as soon as possible. I rejoiced again about my clean, painted, rat-free basement.

And then two days later, my husband saw a rat in our kitchen. My head spun. The next day he came home with huge rat traps and a plan to get the nasty thing out of our house. When we cemented up the hole, we must have locked him in our house. There was no other way he could have gotten in. So we set up the rat traps and waited. And waited. And I worried every morning that I’d come downstairs to find rat fighting to get out of the snap trap. Can you imagine? A rat whose love of peanut butter got him caught in a trap, but it was just his paws, so he didn’t die? Would he squeak and scream and scramble around like a cartoon rat wearing handcuffs? Would I have to face the horror?

Fortunately, no. I didn’t. Unfortunately, the rat traps didn’t work. My anxiety grew, and the scene from Lady and the Tramp kept playing in my head.

Until one night, when I had come down with the flu and was in bed, feverish and exhausted, my husband called me. He had cornered the rat and needed me to retrieve his childhood BB gun. I in my feverish state took a few phone calls to convince, I’m sorry to admit. But I finally went to our living room to find Connor standing guard around our electric fireplace with our baby gates. If the rat moved from underneath the fireplace, he shook the gates, and the rat hurried back to its place of refuge. My job was to stand guard and shake the gates if the rat moved while my husband went to find the gun. All I could see of the rat was its tail. I think my husband had scared it so much that by the time I made it downstairs, the rat wasn’t daring to move. I waited patiently for my husband to come back. He did, and as he tried to remember how to load the gun, I stayed laser focused on the rat tail. Our enemy was soon to be vanquished.

The sound of the BB gun being pumped echoed loudly in our living room. Then my husband got down on the ground and took aim. Then he thought it might be funny to get it on video, so he set up his phone to record. I was starting to get impatient. Finally, with a little click and a loud POP, Connor quickly ended the life of that little rat. I’m guessing it was a nobler way to go than getting one leg caught in a rat trap and waiting to be executed by a big scary man when he got home from work. Probably better than eating poison and dying alone in your nest. But I did feel kind of bad as I watched that tail twitch. I wish my fever had been enough to get me out of participating in the hunt. I still rejoiced in our victory. The scene from Lady and the Tramp faded. My home is safe. My husband protected me from the horrific beastly rodent, and I can say without a doubt that if this was a fairy tale, I’d be the princess, and he’d be the brave knight.


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