(Dear Neighbors North Reader, please note this post reports on rat happenings in early December. Our most recent rat capture was a week ago Saturday. Cross your fingers that will be our last rat.)
Tuesday a.m., Dec. 9.
The Urban Farmer and Co-hab haven’t seen any rat activity since the Thursday before Thanksgiving, nineteen days ago. The rat scholar they’ve been consulting says two weeks with no activity means they should be out of the woods. Better make that three weeks, rat scholar. The Urban Farmer heard something suspicious in the wee hours. A muffled bang. How a trap sounds when it snaps? She’d like to think it was just part of her dream.
Co-hab is home sick with a cold. After breakfast, they troop up to the bedroom for a rat check.
“I’ll do this one,” the Urban Farmer says. So far Co-hab has been doing the bulk of the rat mop-up work. It’s time for the Urban Farmer to get into the game. She can’t always hand off the yuck jobs to Co-hab. It isn’t fair.
The Urban Farmer cracks open the crawl space door: chaos’ aftermath. All three snap traps: tripped. Pillowy insulation: mussed. Rattie’s been having a romp. His snap traps acrobatics went fine for a while. He boogied around the snap traps, but maybe he partied a little too hearty. Now he’s face down in a glue trap. Aieeey!
The Urban Farmer backs out of the crawl space; suits up in the rat suit. On go the rat jeans, the plaid flannel rat shirt, Crocs, and green rubber gloves. Time to go back in.
But first, some relaxation breathing and positive affirmations. She can do this. Dealing with rattie will make her stronger. Face the fear. She summons her inner warrior. Time to whoa-man up.
“I’m coming in, rattie.” She steps onto pillowy softness; eyes rattie; rethinks. Rat is unmoving; still; no panicked in-out in-out in-out breathing; but what if he’s playing possum? What if he’s not dead? What if she picks up the glue trap and rattie starts writhing?
“Hammer. We need a hammer,” she calls out commandingly to Co-hab. (Remember. Co-hab stayed home sick today.)
Co-hab returns with hammer. The Urban Farmer executes a practice swing. She may only get one chance. Her aim needs to be true.
The crawl space’s low ceiling doesn’t allow for much swing. The blow must be sharp. Aim for the head, the Urban Farmer commands herself.
She steps deeper into the crawl; feels the give of the pillowy insulation beneath the plastic-soled Crocs; hunches; remembers to breathe.
Vision narrows to rat on glue. Thoughts narrow to hammer blow action.
The blow is not forceful; more of a tap. Thought of rat brain splatter upon her ungoggled eyes intruded upon her concentration.
She raises hammer. Rat is stuck to not one, but two glue traps. Rat glue trap sandwich. Hammer is stuck to glue traps. Hammer rat glue trap sandwich. Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby grossness.
She backs out of crawl space, hammer arm stretched south to Puyallup.
Co-hab is ready with zippie. Co-hab opens zippie’s mouth wide for rat glue trap sandwich. Glue trap sticks to zippie. Can’t get rat and trap in zip without getting gloves stuck to trap. Awkward. Rat glue trap sandwich won’t fit into zippie. Too gluey.
“Bigger. We need bigger,” gasps the Urban Farmer. “A bigger plastic bag. Go.” She’s hyperventilating on words. She’s starting to freak.
Co-hab runs down for bigger.
Hammer stuck to glue trap. Glue trap stuck to rat. Green glove stuck to glue trap. Hand in green glove. Green glove barrier not enough. Needs greater barrier. Rattie is too close.
“Conquer the fear, conquer the fear,” chants the Urban Farmer.
Co-hab returns with bigger plastic bag. They get rat glue trap sandwich inside; hammer outside; green glove outside. Small motor movement difficult with green gloves. The Urban Farmer practices self-talk–lots of self-talk–to close and tie bag. “This is easy. I am calm. I can do this.”
Next step, rat disposal. The Urban Farmer practices more self-talk. Tuesday is garbage day. Take rattie out to bin; drop in bin; garbage men truck him away. Outside. To alley. Easy.
The Urban Farmer pops lid on bin. Empty. Garbage men have already been. Too late.
First thought. Drop bag in bin. Pop on lid. Garbage men truck him away next Tues.
Next thought. What if rattie isn’t dead? Rattie revives, gnaws through bin, escapes, returns to crawl space?
Third thought. Rattie comes out of coma, revives enough to wiggle, jumps up, says hi when next person drops in garbage?
Back inside with plastic bag. Must make sure rattie’s dead. Must drown.
Dunk in bucket is first idea. No. Bucket is for washing floors. Drowning rattie in bucket will contaminate.
Drown in toilet. Yes. Open bag. Pry glue trap from bag. Push rat end of glue trap into toilet bowl.
Water level too low. Can’t achieve submersion. Must pry rat off glue trap.
With table knife?
No. Can’t deal with contamination.
Run to tool lean-to for long-handled weed tool. Run back in. Begin prying. Free rattie from glue trap ½ inch at a time. Rat fur is stuck good. Doesn’t want to give way. Strain. Sweat. More Brer Rabbit and Tar Baby grossness.
Rat fur and skin stretches. Think bubble gum. Hubba Bubba, Bazooka Joe. Change channel. Focus. Aim blunt-ended weed tool between fur and glue. Don’t pierce rat skin. Don’t want blood. Don’t want guts. Aim at sweet spot between fur and glue.
Work rat free of top glue trap. Yay!
Now have open-face rat glue trap sandwich. Wet rat fur goes all spiky. Two dainty rat poops adhere to glue trap near rat’s poop hole. A song vocalization rises from the Urban Farmer’s depths. “This is soooooo-oh gross. I can’t dooooo this.”
Stretchy rat skin. Doesn’t. Want. To let go.
The Urban Farmer must not give up. She must win. She cannot let the rats win.
Rattie is almost completely pried, almost unstuck from the glue. One, two, three more pries with the weed tool.
Plop into the toilet bowl. A motionless rattie in a small pond. What now? Fish him out and put him back in the plastic sack and out back to the garbage bin? A burial in the back yard?
He is the size of a large turd. She is still reeling; suffering under an excess of grossness. All those wiser choices—back to bin, burial—suppose a clearer head.
She goes for the flush.
Rattie spirals down, caught in the aqueous cyclone. He does not swirl or bubble back up.