Son of Willard

So with the power back on, we prepare to move in a couple of weeks later – on the second hottest day of the year (the first being our closing date). We begin to realize much to our horror that our late rodent friend (which I picked up by its desiccated tail, slipped into a ziplock bag and deposited into trash) was the patriarch of a seemingly vast family of rats, all of which were none too happy about our moving in. Now we were immediately considering a quick resale when by coincidence an article appeared in the Wall Street Journal (of all places) saying that rats were a growing problem in the posher suburbs, citing a case where some fancy housewife opened her viking wall oven in her Beverly Hills mansion, only to have a rat jump out and disappear into the adjoining great room.

So we were in some pretty swanky company with our rat problem.

Our keen desire to fit in with the rich and famous notwithstanding, we decided that the rats had to go. So armed with rat poison and snap traps that looked like they could’ve snapped my forearm in two, I was ready to do combat. We put bait around the garbage shed (epicenter of all things rat) and waited. And not for too long either, because the very next day I was rewarded with a couple of dead rats. Although disappointed that they were small, I dutifully zipped them up and threw them away. The day after our new housekeeper came running up and informed us that there was a “big dead rat” in the driveway. Oh goody.

What she should have said was a “big, not-dead-but-not-at-all-well-rat,” dragging itself across the driveway by its two front legs, heading for space under the sun porch – accessible only to vermin-sized things. My killer instincts kicking in, I ran to the garden shed and took the first thing I could find, a rusty hoe, and went back to the rat, now much closer to the house. Wanting to avoid an aromatic rat corpse under the house, I needed to act. So, without much internal debate, I started to beat the damn thing to death with the hoe.

Did you ever have one of those moments where you can step back, and objectively consider some act while you’re in the middle of its commission?

I had one of those moments.

I was thinking, as the thud of the hoe echoed across the driveway, “Excuse me, but what the hell just happened here? Two weeks ago, I was living high above the upper west side, doorman, super and porters at my disposal, where the wildest thing I would have to deal with was either the annual single cockroach appearance in the kitchen, or Mrs. Flamberg’s toy poodle with painted toenails named Pierre across the hall. Now here I am, sweating my ass off, beating a rat to death with a hoe. Good Lord.”

So with the rat’s spirit shuffling off this mortal coil, and me heading off into the woods to bury its earthly remains, having realized that zipping them up into baggies was a pretty sissy way of getting rid of them, I resigned myself to my new life, wondering what else I would be forced to kill.

Luckily our murderous rampage must have convinced the rest of the rat population that it was a good time to flee because we didn’t see any more rats for a good long while. Until the first cold day of winter that is – but that’s a story for another time.


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