Wednesday, December 21, 2005

Rat

It sat under the kitchen table,
bleeding. Was this a mouse. It was
a big mouse. It sat there, panting,
dripping. The rat trap upside
down beside it. The long coil of tail.
Dark and tapered and touching the
baseboard. The kitchen tiles are eight
inches square and the tail was longer than
a tile. The tail was precise and
clear, what I mean is, it did not
have fur. But it was dark under
the kitchen table. We'd set the traps.
The korean grocer was a little shocked
when I brought the traps up to the
counter, as if he didnt know he carried
rat traps. One night we'd heard gnawing. It was
tremendous gnawing. And I flicked on the
kitchen light and the two avocadoes had
been gouged, the squash had teeth marks
and two bananas in the bunch had a strip
of banana out of them the way some
people eat corn, in a row. That was rat
behaviour. But there hasnt been a rat
in the building in the eighteen years
that our friend on the first floor has
lived here. But this was evidence of rat.
And now I had a stunned rat on my hands.
I went for the hammer. It saw the move
for the hammer and decided. It trotted.
It went for the hallway. And down the
hallway it bled. Under the bed it went.
I moved the bed. Little footprints of
red out to the living room, behind the
Christmas tree. I followed the blood
trail. I moved the tree. It lumbered
over to the couch, dying but energetic.
I moved that heaviest piece of furniture
in the apartment. A smear of blood that it
had sat in on the hardwood under the couch.
Then we lost it. And we cleaned up rat blood.
And went to bed. An hour later its claws woke us,
loping down the hall to the kitchen.

4 Comments:

Anonymous Anonymous said...

There are humane traps: perhaps this hardy specimen could find a new home in a hammer-free zone. And live out its days playing poker with tiny cards.

I really liked the way you wrote about it.

3:05 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

Even had you cornered the rat, do you think it would have sat quietly as you swung the hammer? Count yourself lucky that it disappeared—though now you'll have a decomposing rat corpse somewhere in the walls once it's hemorrhaged to death. Go to a hardware store and get a decent rat trap, will you? There are plastic grey and black traps with a spring mechanism that will snap a rat's neck.
Interesting how well you turn the rat into a character and prompt a reader response (mine), but I'm assuming that you'd prefer the rat to be dead. Certainly I would.

9:46 a.m.  
Anonymous kimber said...

Poor rat...

12:58 p.m.  
Anonymous Anonymous said...

hide the avocadoes. I'm reading Didion's Year of MagicalThinking. The rats gouged hers as well.

1:16 p.m.  

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