Wednesday, December 08, 2004

Rasputin the Mad Rat.

I was one of those awful overprotective mothers. When the kids were tiny I seldom let them go outdoors without me right there. We live out in the country, and there were just too many big dogs, cats of unknown origin and manners, passing strangers-who-could-be-kidnappers, and snakes.

Oh, say it. Just say it. I was overprotective.

I think maybe if you had seen all those snakes in the front yard that day, you would have been the same. But that’s for another post.

(There were dozens. Rolling all around the yard.)

We also had a of friendly livestock, like chipmunks, squirrels, bunnies, etc. But who knew for sure? Haven't you ever seen "Monty Python and the Holy Grail?" Yeah, those bunnies LOOK cute, but. . . . .

Monty Python. I LOVE Monty Python.

We had more than our share of nasty scavengers like possums and raccoons.

Raccoons are cute but it’s all on the outside. On the inside they are miniature mother grizzly bears.

We feed the cats outside on the deck. I might as well just ring a big dinner bell for all the woodland creatures in hearing distance. Or smelling distance.

Anyway, “this one time, in the front yard. . . . .”

My two tiny children had been telling me for several days about the sweet friendly chipmunk that was living under the front steps.

“Let’s feed it, Mommy!” they kept begging.

So one day, we did.

And being Mamacita, I had to make a big deal out of it.

We put the lawn chairs in a row in front of the stone steps. I placed a bread heel on the middle step. We sat down, and waited. We waited for the sweet friendly chipmunk my kids had been watching in delight for several days.

We didn’t have to wait long.

Yes, we sat there in lawn chairs, like three eager people at a circus. Looking at a bread heel on the middle stone step in front of our tiny house.

Watching in anticipation for that pretty little chipmunk to scamper out, discover the bread heel, and hold it in its precious human-like hands while it daintily devoured it.

That was in a perfect world.

In Mamacita’s world, my children and I sat glued to our lawn chairs and watched a huge albino rat slink out from under the steps, gallop up to the middle step, snatch the bread heel like a Dickens pickpocket, greedily and messily devour it in four or five bites, and then sit glaring at us as if to say, “bring me more bread heels or I’ll reproduce under your steps and we’ll set up housekeeping in your shoes and poop daily in the silverware drawer.”

"There he is, Mommy, there's the chipmunk!" they shouted in childish excitement.

I grabbed up my delighted children, ran with them to the kitchen door, threw them in the house, and went back to do battle with the albino rat.

The rat, sensing trouble, had vanished under the steps.

I went into the bedroom, got the defense-against-burglars gun out of its locked box, and went outside to kill. I had little children. They liked to SIT on those steps. Nothing was going to inflict injury on my children. NOTHING, do you hear me?

Don't worry about the gun; the kids were in the center of the house, away from the windows.

For gun safety purposes, and also because I didn't want them to see me chase down and murder their 'chipmunk.'

The rat came out, saw the sun glinting on the gun, and starting running in circles around the house. I followed, fully intent on the kill. We circled the house several times.

Every chance I got, I hammered bullets into the rat. I hit him, too. (I’m good with a gun. Honest.) He was leaving a trail of blood behind him, but was still running.

Finally he made it back to his cozy home under my front steps. He was safe for now.

When Hub got home that night, I told him there was a huge albino rat living under the front steps.

“Nonsense,” he said. “It was probably a possum. Albino rats are rare. It was probably a possum.”

“I know a RAT when I see one,” says I. “I know their horrid naked tails and their smarmy faces.”

“A possum,” he insisted. “They have long naked tails, too. You’re seeing a possum, not a rat.”

There was no sex in our house that night.

We saw the rat many times in the next few weeks. Each time it appeared, it was more and more pitiful and sick-looking. The bullet holes had healed but if I’d only owned a big strong magnet I know I could have captured it without firing another shot. It stayed alive so long, all shot full of holes and hyperventilating at the sight of me, that we started calling it Rasputin.

Finally, one morning, I spotted the rat beside the stone steps, pathetically drooping. I ran into the house, grabbed a big orange kitchen wastebasket, ran back outside, and turned it upside-down over the rat.

He came to life in a big way. I never knew rats, especially rats pumped full of lead, could be so strong and determined. I could barely hold the wastebasket firm over him. I called to the kids to bring me Daddy’s big briefcase. They did.

I put the heavy case on top of the wastebasket, to keep the rat from tipping it over and running for the steps.

Then I put a note on top of the brief case: “Don’t move your briefcase; there’s a big rat trapped inside the wastebasket.”

I didn’t hear the car pull up that evening, but I did hear him laughing in the front yard. I brought him the gun, and he kicked the wastebasket aside and pumped some more lead into the rat.

This time, resistance was futile.

“Holy shit,” says Hub. “It really is a rat. A big albino rat! Those things are scarce!”

He picked up the finally-dead rat by its long naked tail and flung it over the fence (where I usually fling snakes. . . . .) and we all went back into the house and washed our hands for about three hours straight.

The very next day, the pre-teen boys who lived just down the road came to the door and asked us to keep an eye out for their pet rat. It had escaped a few weeks before, and they knew it was still alive because it occasionally ventured home. They assured us that we would know it was theirs because it was the only albino rat anywhere in the vicinity. Albino rats were scarce, you know.

We promised to keep an eye out for it.

And then we went into the house and laughed for a million years.
Posted by Mamacita (The REAL one) @ 6:16 PM | |


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