- a Rat's Tale
(an email exchange)
JIM CHARETTE wrote:
I had a pet rat once. His name was Larry.Thought that I did him a favor
by saving him from the usual job assigned to he and his brethren at
the pet store, lunch for a python. Had him for about a month.Went to
clean his cage one day and the little bastard bit me. Suffice it to say
he no longer resides here. The rat bastards!!
Once we bought for only a buck a mouse we named "Joey." Little did we
know that Joey would surprise us real quick with a litter of little buggers.
The little buggers grew up fast and before we know it they're humping
each other incestly, er, I mean incessantly. That forced me to talk
prematurely to my little ones about the "birds and the bees," using rats
as substitutes. Shit, what do you say like when little Rochelle asked,
"Look Daddy, they're doing circus tricks."
Long story short, it didn't take long before we had 40 damn rats - and the
pet shop wouldn't buy back at whole sale - or just do me a favor and take them (in the) back!
"Sorry, we have enough inventory."
(they probably also started with one
"Well kids, why don't we take them to the Human Society? Then they'll find homes with other children for each mouse."
"No Dad, they're just going to kill
them," said 6 year-old Bronson.
So we started lifting each up (with gloves- they do bite!) looking for
balls or no balls, not heads or tails. The males also struggle more fiercely. They acted as if somebody was lifting them by their tails to cut off their balls!
Anyway, those with balls went into a separate cardboard grocery box (bad idea),
and the ladies stayed put in their own cardboard hotel. They however lost the
plastic wheel to run in circles because the guys were more
hyper and seem to need that toy to work off their stress.
The bright colored wheel proved to be inadequate to manage their excess energy. Mindful of the past lesson about the birds and the bees - and the rats, 3 year-old Rochelle came up to me and asked, "Daddy, the boys are doing the birds and bees thing to each other. How come?"
I wasn't about to tell her about that lesson in life. So I lied.
"Well, Honey, I guess some mice CAN do circus tricks."
But that action didn't last long. Some of the guys had started erecting themselves on their hind legs, sniffing the air with their noses pointed upwards.
"Daddy, I think they're hungry," said 4 year-old Houston.
I didn't tell him they smelled female hormonal pheromones wafting through the air. Yeah, they were hungry, but for something else.
Before we knew it some of the males had sprung the coup. Under the laid wet, stinky, mice shit strewn newsprint paper was
found a hole gnawed through the cardboard bottom corner. Yeah, you know where
another hole appeared. Some had jumped the fence and the girls got laid after
all. Not all of them however. The less competitive ones stayed put in the box, never quite interested enough to find a hole.
Then there was 75 or so in 5 plastic (thick) bins (from Home Depot) in the garage. Shit, what is this, I think to myself, a rat farm? My garage also smelled like the pet shop. In a few weeks I knew that number could double and my Mercedes would be parked out on the street, losing its shelter to the darn rats! I had to solve the problem - of course without traumatizing the children.
So one night, after the children were tucked in and had gone to sleep, I put the bins in the car
trunk and back seat and drove off towards the nearby cliffs - that dropped abruptly down into the sea.
I left the garage door open for the next morning and said to the surprised children,
"Oh my, your mom forgot and left the garage door open. Shame on her. (She wasn't there to defend herself but was in the downstairs laundry room doing a load.)
And somebody came and stole all our pets!"
The boys looked at me suspiciously.
I kept my father game face on as best as I could, attempting to block out a past lesson lectured to them,
Then Rochelle looked up at me with her big sad eyes, tears dripping, and
pleaded with her tiny voice,
"Daddy, can we go to the pet store and buy a new baby mouse?"
I made a quick call to the local vet and he said, "Yeah I can do it but
it's an odd request. Those things are so cheap - why bother?"
So we went and got a new "Joey." Cost me 75 cents this time (they were
on sale, uncontrollably overstocked! Needless to say I passed on the "Buy 2 for a dollar" special). Then I choked on the $50 medical bill for the castration at the
Henry, the blue parakeet, had croaked months before so there was a
vacancy for his cage. Joey II spent his life in the steel parakeet cage (they don't live long; maybe that's why they reproduce so fast), quite content in picking
at his rat pellets from the bird's feeder trough that hung (one side lower) on a crossing wire of
the cage bars.
After that our rat problem could have been uneventful - other than the occasional
tirades by their mom about why she's the only one that gets stuck
feeding, watering and changing the stinky paper on the bottom of the
cage- when it's their pet - that she never wanted in the house in the first place.
But one evening while at the dinner table I noticed something lurking in the shadows of the dining room's walls. A white mouse with reddish brown and black spots ran swiftly along the floor molding, stopping in the middle, then stood up on its hind legs. I swear it looked like it lifted its middle finger at me as it wrinkled its ugly nose. But it could have just been the wine. Then it scurried on and turned the corner, disappearing into the living room.
"Did you see that strange, creepy looking mouse?" I asked my wife and the kids. I might have sounded to them like my sanity was seeking affirmation.
They shook their heads in unison that they didn't. My wife sternly looked at me and said, "There's nothing in here. Don't scare the children." After a pause, she whispered, "GET OVER IT."
From that incident I knew not all the guys went to our version of the "Chicken Ranch" brothel while it existed in the garage. Other dudes broke for freedom and mated with the field mice in cliff side backyard. Talk about the call of the wild!
And so by now, in that big house and on top of that hill with a view to kill for that we once called Home, there probably exists a new subspecies that owes its origin to a dead mouse once called Joey.
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