me vs. the rat
So this little tail begins that week I was deathly sick (recently). Actually let's back it up a couple of months. There was a gas leak in the house. The plumber came out to fix the problem. It's an old house and there are two of what I call "gas chambers" attached to the walls. One is in the bathroom, the other in the dining room. The plumber opened up the gas chambers to seal off the gas that doesn't need to go to the chambers anymore considering we live in Texas and the year is 2007 (at the time). Well the plumber decides he doesn't have to screw the little piece back onto the gas chambers and TAKES THE SCREWS WITH HIM! The story begins here because I think thats where Ralph found a happy hole to crawl through that won't singe him anymore. Ever since the gas chamber incident, I have heard things at night, like someone walking around SLOWLY (which leaves me to believe now, that Ralph is HUGE). Let's also remember that I am paranoid by nature and I have a very scary imagination so at the time, I thought a number of things Ralph could have been, never did I think it was a RAT! (lots of sleepless nights because of this, by the way. Again, I'm paranoid by nature, since I was a little girl, who knows why!).
After realizing that I was being way too paranoid, I blocked my imagination and pinned the noises on it just being an old house that has weird creaks from time to time. Okay, let's fast forward to that deathly ill week. Man, I was soooo sick, I had a bottle of water by my side, tissue paper within a hands reach, nyquil within my lips reach and my new found friend Mucinex close by. So during this sickness, I was hacking up all the evil that had been inside me (thanks to the Mucinex) and chunked it on the floor as far as my arm would throw (which ended up being not that far at all, that sick knocked me down down down!). I never picked up those little crumpled up tissues because I knew that I would just add to the pile and figured that when the sick was over, I'd get rid of it in whole. I could barely lift my head at the time, much less a trashcan filled with icky swabs of evil green monsters wrapped inside. Yeah, ummmm, for those of you who get lazy sick like me ... PICK UP THE TISSUE FILLED WITH GUNK AND THROW IT AWAY!
So I finally got better and decided I should not only clean the tissues, but the entire house, since I had just let it go since I had been sick, and being home all day, I made a helluva mess. I started in the living room, and then the kitchen, then worked my way to my bedroom. I looked down at the tissues and realized that they had been scattered! Could it be my first gut feeling that those noises were ghosts telling me to clean up or leave??? Then I looked a little closer and saw what I first thought was black lint off of a sweater that sheds black lint. I went to pick one of them up and realized that this black lint was hard. Then I looked at one of the tissue papers, and then quickly looked at all the rest, and to my disbelief ... RATS! I immediately jumped on the bed, grabbed my socks (hell of a reach), then grabbed my CLOSED TOED shoes (remember, paranoid/scary imagination). I scanned the floor for Ralph, opened my ears and listened for Ralph. No sign, so I quietly got down and started picking up what looked like nibbled on wonton soup, without the soup. The more I picked up, the grosser it was. Then I had to pick up the little hard black lint. It seemed that everytime Ralph took a nibble of a snotty tissue, a pellet would pop out of him. There was soooo much lint!
Okay, floor clean. Then I search around for Ralphs hole. The little shitter has got to come in and out from somewhere. I know he's not a ghost rat. There's no such thing ... right? Anyways, I move onto the bathroom. Remember? That's where one of the gas chambers is. I have a little table that I put against that gas chamber. It's squished in between the toilet and the tub. I proceed to pull it out so I can screw that little piece back on and block Ralph's passage through to what he probably considers the holy land. I start to slowly pull the table away (i'm in the tub by the way, I can't handle rat feet on me, because the second the rat has his feet on what he thinks is solid ground, the only way to climb at this point is UP! FUCK THAT!), I'm still slowly pulling the table away, and as I pull it completely out of the way, I veer my eyes away from the wall where I'm thinking he's going to jump out and attach himself to my face, and I look down...
...my first instinct... DRY HEAVE! I haven't dry heaved so much in my life! Ralph left me one of those clues I was telling you about. Yeah, so mother nature came to visit me a couple of days ago. Did you know that rats like to eat cotton filled with blood? VOMIT! Ralph had chowed down on a used pad! VOMIT! VOMIT! VOMIT! That little fucker actually went into my trash can, pulled it out, UNRAVELLED IT, and ate until his heart was content and his belly full of my ... errr ... VOMIT!!!!!!!! I leave the bathroom immediately and go outside to get some fresh air, and hope I had made this all up by the time I came back in. To my dismay, I had not. There was no one else around to dispose of Ralph's leftovers, which left me dry heaving all the way to the dumpster down the street!
Okay, the bad part is over, now it's time to close shop. I've never been so jumpy in my life as I was when I was trying to screw that part back on. If Ralph touches my hand ... again, I will jump and scream like a little bitch, and so will Ralph and he'll start running ... UP! He's got FOUR legs, he can run a lot faster that I can figure out where he is and shove him off! So I was able to screw the piece back on with no sign of Ralph. whew!
Well, now that I was at it, I decided to clean the whole house. Room to room, I come across a closet where I keep my suitcases and winter coats. My dry heaving days were not over. I open the door to find out that Ralph has already been there, and dragged in ANOTHER PAD! VOMIT, VOMIT, VOMIT!!!!!! They are all going straight to the big trash can from now on! It just baffles me that he had to actually go to the trouble of UNRAVELLING IT! and it looks like he was careful! I mean, I'm grossed out and impressed at the same time! I spent the rest of the night deep cleaning the house, with a careful hand and a ready eye to spot another one of Ralph's disgusting clues.
Clue number three that Ralph exists in my house. I went to print a guitar tab, and realized that my printer didn't work. That's weird, i thought, I had just printed something a few days earlier. So, I checked to make sure everything was turned on, then I checked that everything was plugged in, then I checked my printer settings and everything was fine. Weird. Then I unplugged the cable to the printer and realized that the computer did not make that sound. So I follow the cable. I have never seen anything like this before! RALPH ATE THROUGH MY USB CABLE! This is when I found out that Ralph was really HUGE! He'll eat ANYTHING! Why my USB cable? There are lots of cables where that one was, why the USB cable? Fortunately, I have loads of cables laying around and printed that guitar tab. I started learning the new song but I just couldn't stop thinking about how a rat could eat straight through a USB cable. I've never seen anything like this in my life! This is when I realized enough is enough! It's time to go shopping for bait!
Which brings us to tonight. I went grocery shopping, and on my list was Rat traps. My, there are so many to choose from. My dad used to use the mouse traps with springs that snap. I honestly can't stomach those. I always feared two things, getting my toes stuck in one (I'm not a fan of pain or surprise), and watching an animal die. My dad caught a mouse once, I helped him catch it. We set one of those spring traps, dad heard it go off, he screamed in excitement. By the time I got there the mouse had not died yet. He was mangled and squirming. I felt so bad for him. I told dad that I didn't like those kind of traps, so he bought the super sticky ones. Yeah, umm, if the rat is bigger than the sticky trap, he'll take off with it! We kept leaving sticky traps and they just kept disappearing! So we got bigger ones, and that was equally painful to watch. But I don't want a rat in my house. I have a vivid imagination! It's keeping me from sleeping! I keep imagining Ralph confusing my tongue for his next pad feast! VOMIT! Now I'm waking up with lock jaw from trying to keep my mouth shut all night long. And Rabies WILL kill you! There is no cure! Okay, rabies are rare in rats. 1% of rabies cases came from rats, but for some reason I think they can still kill me with one bite. (I'm not really good with horror movies, and I may be a hypochondriac).
On with the tail, I'm at H.E.B. and I see this little rat trap that looks like a little black house. NO WAY! If I catch him in that, he'll still be in there when I find him, but I won't be able to see him. No surprise factor. Pass. Then I found the spring rat traps, big and little. Pass. Then came the sticky pads. Okay, I think Ralph is actually a big rat, like huge! I've never seen him, but one time I was in the bathroom (soon after the gas chamber incident), and something hard grazed my calf at 3:30 in the morning. I screamed so loud, I'm surprised my neighbor didn't call 911. I honestly didn't know what the hell it was. That's when I thought the house was haunted. I couldn't sleep for days after that because I couldn't even imagine what it could have been. Now, I know what it was, it was Ralph! It must have been his tail that grazed my calf. I did see a shadowy figure run across the floor, which at the time, I thought was a ghost cat, or possibly one of those evil ghosts that take bad people who just died and suck them into the pavement, like in the movie Ghost. These are the kind of thoughts that roam unsupervised in my head. (I've had my fair share of ghost stories in my life, I can't stand it, it scares the shit out of me!)
So big sticky rat trap it is! Make that two for the price of one! This trap has a numbing effect on the rat. I'm hoping it basically massages the rat to a peaceful death. The next thing I got I thought was strange but I went ahead and got it anyway, because it was more sticky stuff (anything but the spring trap). They were sticky pieces of cardboard with no harmful chemicals, just sticky stuff, so the rat can stick to death. Well, I didn't think that was going to work alone, so I got some rat pellets to pour on top, that looked like the black lint they poop out, except it's green.
I get home and decide I should cook and eat first before I handle rat poison. I finally sit down with my new boxes of rat stuff for Ralph, and I read them all CAREFULLY. I don't want to poison myself on accident. I didn't chew through my USB cord, Ralph did! And as I'm reading, I keep getting this image of Ralph in a good light. And I keep thinking, maybe his brother is head rat chef and he doesn't know any better. He's just venturing out to be as resourceful as his rat chef brother, but all he could come up with was snot, period, and USB cord. VOMIT! (sorry). Then the moment passes and I take all the goodies out of the boxes. All of the sudden I'm excited, I feel like the grinch who stole christmas! This wonderful evil sensation came over me. Which walls am I going to strategically place my traps next to? I had to think like Ralph to figure out where he had been in my house and what paths he took to get there and get back. Truthfully, all I had to do was follow the direction of the poop he left behind (that I found tonight when I came home). I went to the bathroom and checked the garbage can that I cleaned out the night before, and low and behold, Ralph had been there again too! I went to the kitchen, Ralph had been there. Went to my bedroom, and there was his mark again. Dirty, dirty rat!
So I started making my rat trap path of destruction! Big sticky trap in the bathroom, accompanied with little sticky trap and green pellets. Big sticky trap and little trap in my bedroom, and two in the kitchen, and one next to the leftovers of my USB cord. I"M READY RALPH, SHOW YOURSELF YOU LITTLE FUCKER! STOP EATING MY PADS! VOMIT! STOP EATING MY USB CORD! STOP TAKING LITTLE SHITS EVERWHERE! GROSS!! AND EWWWW!!! I think I smell him! I'm armed and ready. (I'm still wearing socks and closed toed shoes, I just can't even take the thought of Ralph flipping out and climbing UP!!!!)
It's 3:00am, tuesday morning and now I know the true meaning of "quiet as a mouse". Ever since I laid out all the traps (I don't even know what time I did it, I was so engulfed with the whole idea of catching Ralph), I go and check all of the traps every two minutes. The house is quiet except for the loud pecking of the my fingers against the keyboard. No sign of Ralph anywhere, and I can't sleep. Does he know that I am setting traps for him? Is HE the head rat chef and menstruation to him is like sirloin to me? hmmmm. What's the worst Ralph could do? Scare the shit out of me? Maybe he wants me to know that he's here living with me, that's why he's leaving me all those clues, so we can live together in peace and cook menstrual soup...yummy! As gross as those clues are, he probably means well.
Did you know that rats have an average life span of two to three years? Ralph is a big rat, he must be at least two and a half years old. Great! Now, he's a grandpa rat. I feel worse for him, but what is that smell? I keep looking down at the sticky trap I left close to the chewed up USB cable, no sign of Ralph, but I can smell him! My feet now rest on top of my subwoofer. Ralph must go down! If only I could put up a sign that he would obey. *no rats allowed* Maybe if I get a fake rat and nail it to the wall with all fours spread, it would serve as a warning for the rest.
Did you know that rats can laugh? We can't hear them, but they do laugh. They have tickle spots just like us. The rats that laugh a lot, prefer to spend their time with other rats that laugh a lot. This vocalization is called "chirping". Rats also chirp when they are wrestling other rats, having sex, and before recieving MORPHINE! What the fuck?!? Why does wikipedia have to humanize my rat problem!
Did you know humans can eat rats in emergency situations? They are apparently high in protein. Romans used to refer to rats as "mus maximus" (big mouse). In the chinese zodiac, people born in this year are expected to possess qualities associated with rats, including creativity, honesty, generosity, ambition, a quick temper and wastefulness. People born in a year of the rat are said to get along well with "monkeys" and "dragons," and to get along poorly with "horses." Rat is also slang for a criminal informant. OH SHIT! I didn't even factor in that Ralph could have a quick temper!!!!!!!
Okay, I'm done with all this rat talk, I'm going to go and check my strategically placed sticky traps for the final time of the evening and go to sleep (socks and shoes included! I just can't stand the thought of Ralph gnawing at my toes which will make me wiggle and freak the fuck out when I realize it's a rat who sees my pinky toe as a little yummy suasage, then the rat will flip out and where do you think he's going to go? That's right ... UP, especially if I'm HORIZONTAL! YOWWWWWW, I just can't handle the thought, moving on).
Wish me luck, we'll see who wins this war of me vs. the rat (a.k.a. Ralph). I'll update you as the updates come!
Official Soon-To-Be Rat Slayer!!!!
UPDATE - Tuesday, February 5, 2008
I came home tonight at about 10pm with excitement to see if there was any movement in any of my strategically placed sticky traps. My first place to look was next to the eaten up USB cable. I had placed a sticky trap that I made into a box and put a small piece of mozzarella cheese in the center of it. The box is no bigger than a pack of smokes, I wanted to see how big Ralph was. As I turn the corner and look for the box I notice that it had moved! This excites me and grosses me out at the same time because this means that Ralph really is HUGE! He couldn't fit his king sized head inside the box to get the cheese! Now I start scanning the floor around the box! Maybe Ralph figured out what I was up to and is waiting for me with his quick temper so he can attach himself to me and nibble away at my skin.
By the way, I am talking to my mom on the phone as all this is going down and I'm giving her a play by play of the events. Next stop is the bathroom. I checked the big sticky trap next to the tub with a tiny piece of cheese on it, and it had not moved, which means that Ralph could no longer come through that hole, he MUST be huge! I also checked the little sticky trap with green pellets next to the toilet and it had not moved.
Okay, on to the bedroom, where most of the little lints have been found. I placed two traps on the other side of the bed, so the first trap I see is the little sticky trap against the wall. It had not moved. The next trap I put near the head of the bed alongs side the wall. It was a big sticky trap. I turned the corner and let out the biggest yelp. I CAUGHT RALPH!!!!! I went to look a little closer and he MOVED!!! I immediately ran out of the house, wiggling a dance I usually only dance if roach legs have touched my skin. I had no idea I was so squimesh about this sort of thing. Oh, and my mother was laughing the whole time. I can't believe I actually caught Ralph! But he's still alive! I have to go catch him and put him out of his misery somehow. The trap I got had some sort of numbing potion, but it looks as though Ralph had just been caught! GROSS. I went back to find a box, I found one and frantically ran back to Ralph. I could hear him "chirping" over and over. I felt so bad! Then, he started to move. His feet were stuck in the glue, but his legs weren't, it looked like he could break free! That's when the dry heaving started up again! I couldn't do it. I ran over, and placed the box over him. One problem. I couldn't put the box all the way over him. He managed to get the cord to my heating pad stuck in between him and the sticky trap. Looks like I'm kissing that thing goodbye. Oh, did I mention he was as big as my foot? Tail NOT included!
I just couldn't even imagine how to pick it all up. I kept getting goose bumps and dry heaving. What the hell? I just can't handle rodents. So I go outside again, once I know he's secure, and there are a group of guys outside trying to fix a car. So I walk over to them (heart still pounding and completely out of breath). This was the dialogue... "Excuse me? Anyone here afraid of rats?". One guys says, "yeah, why?". Then I say, "Well, I kinda had this rat problem the last couple of days and I placed some traps last night and I actually caught him, but I can't seem to pick him up, I keep dry heaving". That same guy says, "I'll help you", and then I thank him profusely and proceed to tell him my story as well as do a quick introduction as I lead him to the way. His name is Cody. He asks me for a bag, and I get him one. He asks me how big he is, and I tell him it's as big as my foot. He looks at me as though I'm just a girl over exaturating UNTIL he lifts up the box! "That IS big", he says. Ralph squirms and I jump! He then asks for another bag! ha ha ha ha, I happily run out to get him one. Then he flips Ralph over and closes him and my heating pad in the bag. Then the Cody decides to make a joke, and grabs the heating pad cord and tugs on it and says, "Are you sure you don't want this back?". I immediately dry heave and asked him not to do that. He laughs, I don't blame him. I followed him out to the trash can with a lid outside and watch him send Ralph along to his new home. I thank him and then get back on the phone with my mother, who is STILL laughing. Mom's contributing joke was "Your blood must be good stuff, it made him big and strong!" VOMIT!!!!!!!!!! Thanks mom. And that was my final dry heave of the evening.
I still feel bad for Ralph, watching him squirm like that. I really hope he was a loner though. I can't take that kind of surprise again. It doesn't smell funny anymore, and I'm leaving the other traps out for good measure. Man, this little adventure has been exhausting! I ended up going to sleep at 6 in the morning last night, shoes and all. I'm finally signing off of this project, hopefully for good.
"Official Rat Slayer"