Saturday, May 22, 2010

Better Than the Orkin Man

In the early to mid 90’s, my grandmother’s house, which is now my mom’s, had a rodent problem. There were mice and rats in the yard and in the house. The rodents never made their way into the rooms of the house, but they got uncomfortably close nonetheless. In the yard several feet from the pool was a birdfeeder which wasn’t exclusively used by birds. Naturally the squirrels had their fill. There was almost no way to fight that battle successfully. I never tried shooing off the furry tailed rascals. However when the mice ate the bird seed scattered on the ground by the squirrels, I was repulsed. The squirrels were discriminate about which seeds they would eat. Preferably, they ate the sunflower seeds and would pilfer through the bird feed picking those out and shoveling the rest below to the ground. It was there that the mice would be waiting, in broad daylight unbelievably.

I tried taking care of this by purchasing a pellet gun and shooting the uninvited guests. The pellet gun was a pump action model. I would keep the pellet gun handy at the patio, and when I saw a mouse under the feeder, I would pump the gun 5 or 6 times, take aim and fire. I always hit them, and they all died except for two. One of them rolled down the hill, but I was able to reload and finish off the job with it. The other time, the mouse rolled down the hill but was able to limp back up the hill and go to the edge of the woods where I caught up to him. He was a mean little bastard. When I approached him, he actually lunged at me a couple of inches. I let him live. It didn’t matter, no matter how many mice I shot, another was there soon after to replace him at the buffet. I felt like Sisyphus.
As annoying as the mice were, it was the house rats that scared the hell out of me. There were nights I could hear them scampering around up in the ceiling. That spooked me out, and there wasn’t much I could do about this problem. I learned to ignore it, but in the back of my mind, I knew what was lurking above.
One night, I was going to retrieve something from the storage room by the garage. Upon opening the door to the storage room, I heard some scratching around inside there. I reached up to grab the cord to turn on the light, and that is when I saw a huge fucking rat run up the side of the wall and into a hole in the ceiling. I know he was more scared of me than I of him, but had he ran towards me instead of away, not only would I have run, but I would have screamed like a little girl. When I say huge, I mean this thing from snout to the end of the tail was well over a foot. His girth was bigger than that of my forearms. I actually forgot why I went to that room in the first place, but it didn’t matter because I didn’t go in there anyway.
Fast-forward a few years when Father is on the scene. I never saw Father kill a mouse or a rat, but given his proclivity to kill little animals, I would be surprised if he did not like rats or mice. Father, when he was in his ‘killing mode’, was like a mechanism and he couldn’t be stopped once he was in that mode. For example, one time when he was going after a cat, he would not listen to me as I tried calling him off his chase, but he was intent to kill channeled his attention and senses to just one thing and he was oblivious to anything else not involved in the hunt. The cat got away.

About a year after Father moved in with us, I noticed a few things. There were no more mice in the back yard, rat encounters in the garage or rodents scurrying around in the ceiling. Was there a cause-and-effect between Father’s arrival and the rodents’ departure, or was it a mere coincidence? Who knows, but a good argument could be made that Father took care of these little beasts. But if he had eaten rodents, it makes me a little queasy thinking about it, and not for reasons that immediately come to mind. Something that will make one go ‘ewww’ is that I kissed Father in the mouth just like I did with my babies. Father wasn’t quite as vigorous about kissing as Andy or Abby, but he did it all the same. To think that the mouth that had touched a rat’s ass had touched my mouth is revolting. For obvious reasons, I try not to think about it.

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