The next day, the Batzner truck pulled up in front of the house. The driver got out and put on his sandwich sign which said in 2 ft tall letters: THERE ARE RATS IN THIS HOUSE. RIGHT HERE. WHERE I’M PARKED.
I met him on the front porch and we walked around the house. I told him about the Lazarus rat that had been dead but came alive in our garbage cart. I asked him if he could catch the rat. And kill it with something – poison, a shovel, a rifle.
He said. He SAID. And I will remember these words on my deathbed – while the grieving family waits for me to give them parting words and spiritual guidance, I will see the Batzner man with his clipboard, the insignia on his shirt (Jerry), and the policeman flashlight hanging from his belt. Words to live by. You thought there was one fucking rat, Jan, and there were HUNDREDS.
That’s right. That’s what Old Jer said, “Ma’am, you don’t have A rat. You probably have a couple hundred rats. I would say probably 2 or 3 hundred rats are going in and out of your basement.
We went in the basement. It creeped me out even being with Jerry and his big boy flashlight. My husband should be doing this. Bonding with Jerry and the rats. That’s why people fucking get married. To have an appropriate division of labor. But no, my husband is on Catalina Island having heart to heart talks with his friend while I’m in the basement with a uniformed stranger and 300 rats.
He started flashing his light – this corner, then that one. See, that’s where they’re getting in. My buddy Jer explained how the rats had a network of tunnels underneath the house, that led to burrows into the basement. He pointed out the gnaw marks with the tip of his pencil and I could see how their little sharp wicked teeth had drilled through the wall leaving little excavation mounds.
Jerry checked off all the things that attracted the rats – easy access because of the age of the house, stacks of magazines and newspapers, old furniture, paint brushes and rags, and a giant bag of dogfood with, yep, little rat lip prints on the bottom corner. When you get all this stuff out of here, I’ll come back and set the traps.
I called my husband. His response? Ah, there aren’t 300 rats. I don’t know what he’s talking about. I’m not even sure there was one rat. Looked like a mouse to me. Just leave it and we can clean it up next weekend. (This is what’s called Howard’s Housework Scheduling Program (HHSP). Using HHSP means that when a need for any household intervention arises after 6:00 p.m. Friday, it can only be scheduled for remediation after 6:00 p.m. on the following Friday. This is how we live, folks. I’m not making this up.)
Obviously, there was no way in hell I was going to clean the basement by myself. Or sit upstairs drinking Scotch while the rats played cards downstairs.
This job required his brother. The same brother who I actually would have killed with a shovel had he graced my front door during the previous three months. It was either deal with Nelson or wait a week.
I texted: Nels. Come over tomorrow at 9. I need your help. And don’t ask any questions.
Tomorrow: Rebuilding Relationships with Rat Shit
Read more about Norway rats here http://www.batzner.com/pest-database/rodents/norway-rat.asp