So we live in this big, 200-year old, charming, but decrepit house in the suburbs. We moved there about 10 years ago from an apartment in the city. This is the first house I’ve ever lived in – I had always been an apartment-dweller before then.

The people we bought from were difficult and kept us in contract for almost 6 months before we finally closed. We felt like we were getting a deal, and rented in the city, so were patient. However at month 6, we got fed up. So the closing was dramatic, there were some raised voices, and despite their assurances to the contrary, the sellers had the power turned off. In the middle of a July heat-wave. When the power company said they couldn’t turn off power even if they wanted to because so many people were losing power because of all the air conditioning going on.

For us, they made an exception.

After closing, I went back to the house to wait for the power company to turn us back on. Greeting me in the driveway of the house was a big, dead, somewhat flattened rat. A rat. Not a mouse, shrew or vole. But a dirty, stinking, creepy-despite-being-deceased-and-minus-a-few-inches-of-entrails rat. So this was quite hideous, me and the rat corpse waiting for the power company. As darkness began to fall, the rat and I were still hanging out. Well, okay, one of us was hanging out and the other one was lying squished on the asphalt.

I am generally not one to believe in ghosts. Correction – I think I might actually believe, but firmly believe I’ll never see one. So back to the old, empty, creaky (and hot) house. My thought processes are generally at least marginally rational, but for some reason, I got the idea into my head that if I went into that house, I’d see a ghost. And maybe not a very nice one – the house is next to a cemetery too, I forgot to mention. And yet, if I hung around outside – in the dark – I was convinced that I would be swarmed, Willard-style with a dark legion of hungry, no doubt angry rats in mourning for their dear, lost rat friend.

So I hovered uncomfortably on the horns of the ghost-rat dilemma until 11:00 when the guy from the power company showed up and informed me that his particular area of expertise was gas – not electricity – and I might want to stand back a bit when he flipped the switch, which he did while cringing and leaning away from the electrical box. I don’t know if he crossed himself before he flipped the switch, but he might as well have done.

So he flipped the switch, the lights came on, nobody got electrocuted and the only dead one was the pancake rat in the driveway.

Welcome to the suburbs


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