Jumping Rats

Written By: Connie Trott

I’m not one of those people that are impressed with a new house. I’ve always had an odd attraction to old houses. I love their strength and character. But, there are a couple small drawbacks to those stately old homes. They have seen many changes in their environment over the years causing small imperfections in the foundation making them susceptible to the outdoor creatures that are looking for a warm place to spend the winter months.

We happened to live in one of those old houses, and when fall came it became a popular habitation for mice and rats. We always liked to keep a couple cats in the house for that very purpose.  However, it wasn’t the cats that earned their keep on this particular day.

The old hide-a-bed in the living room had seen better days. But it served its purpose as that’s where grandma slept on her frequent visits to the young couple’s home. On this particular day there were no guests and the old couch was closed up. The dogs, Beauty and The Beast, were particularly interested in something that was between the arm and the cushion.  Their noses seemed to be stuck in there a good share of the day. I thought maybe they had lost a bone down there, so every now and then I would insert my hand down the side to see if I could find it. But to no avail and I really didn’t have time to give it my full attention as we had company coming for supper that evening and I had a house to clean.

My mother, sister and brother-in-law were to be our guests. Little did they know what the evening would bring.  After we had finished our meal, the dogs continued to fix their attention on that old couch.  I finally asked my husband and brother-in-law to lift up one end of that heavy old thing and see what it was that those dogs were making such a fuss about. As the hiding place was removed a very panicked rat shot quickly out and across the dining room amidst much shuffling and screaming. It found another piece of furniture as its next hiding place, hoping to go unnoticed, but it was too late. The dogs had waited all day for this opportunity and they were not about to miss out on a single minute of it. Beauty, being the impatient one, stuck her nose under the recliner and tried to force her way under.  But , Beast, in his calm and patient way just waited behind her knowing if he waited long enough he would surely get his reward. Once again, the men rushed to remove the rodent’s new hiding place. As they lifted the chair, the rat ran right between Beauty’s legs. She never even saw it. But Beast did! As he lunged for it the rat leaped up and latched onto Beast’s upper lip. He stood motionless as the terrified creature hung from his face. Suddenly, for no apparent reason, the rat made the fatal decision to let go. Now Beast had no patience left. As blood dripped from his mouth he snatched that rodent up by the back and started to violently shake it, his strong jaws causing his teeth to sink into the flesh of the intruder. A mingling of Beast’s blood and the rat’s splashed all over the walls and floor. Then as quickly as he grabbed it he dropped the lifeless form on the floor. The excitement was over.

During all the activity the men had stood back and the women had all looked for something to jump up on. My sister was on the couch, I was on the radiator, my mother had stepped onto the piece of furniture closest to her. It just happened to be a tiny little chair that my husband had carved out of a chunk of wood. It was made for our son.  There she stood on that little chair clutching our 2 year old. The sight of her standing there only 4 inches off the ground was too much and we all burst into laughter.

We sent our guests back home with a new story to tell and we retired for the evening. We had assumed all trespassers were eliminated for now. However, in the wee hours of the morning I awoke to a strange squealing sound. I turned on the light and looked all the way to the end of our long, narrow bedroom to find the cat playing with a young rat. She was apparently bringing her prize into our room to show us that she was doing her job. The rodent was squealing in fear as the cat would catch it and turn it loose, over and over. There would be no sleeping for us until the problem was eliminated. Once again, my husband came to the rescue. He had left his big work boots by the side of the bed, so he slipped them on with the intention of finishing the job. I found the image of his scrawny little legs and those big clumsy work boots quite amusing. He made it about half way across the room when he turned around and came back. Quickly grabbing my sweater, he wrapped it around his waist. As I wondered what he was doing he explained, “Just in case it’s a jumping rat.” Clearly a safety measure as he sleeps in the nude.

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