Saturday, March 20, 2010

To the Victor...

Sometimes two things cannot coexist in the same space. The Romans and Barbarian tribes, the Hebrews and anyone else in Canaan, Wiley Coyote and Roadrunner. Add to the list "rats" and "me".

We cannot do it. We cannot live in the same apartment. One of us has to leave, and, since I have moved 3 times since January, they have to go. Also, I promised my wife I would make them leave. I can't let her down. We are living in a war-like state against the rats.

The conflict between us hit a new high this week. Thanks to a recent gift from my the Director of my school I now have roughly 10 old-school traps. The kind that snap shut with guillotine-like efficiency and have a very unique sound. Also, the kind that can take off your hand/fingers if you are not careful. They are like rat land mines- they cannot distinguish friend from foe, so you have to watch out.
Earlier this week we loaded one and put it in a cupboard where rats were getting in from the attic. Not 10 minutes later there was a very distinct sound, and Katie came running to me, very excited and with BIG eyes full of joy. She is coldblooded towards rats; it was her idea to take no prisoners. I just follow orders.

With the help of our roommate Kirby, we opened the cabinet. Kirby looks at the rat for a minute while we are bombarding him with questions then says, "Oh, he is still alive". What? What? WHAT?!!! Will nothing remove these vermin from our apartment and satisfy Katie's bloodlust?
I hand Kirby a broom stick and tell him to finish it off or to push it into a trash can before Super-Rat decides to shake off the effects and fly away. Kirby procrastinates. In his defense, Kirby might not have understood that this was a war of attrition and the stakes are very high. However, because he procrastinates the evening changed completely. This wouldn't be a quick ambush- this would be an epic battle. The rat got his second wind. He was alive.
(What is my arm doing?)
The rat sprang to life. He jumped six inches into the air (see above- he is levitating!), then frantically ran round the cupboard searching for his escape. We tried to strike him down, but, like Neo in The Matrix, he dodged our blows. Then he turned. He squared himself to us and jumped out of the cupboard, then charged Katie and Kirby's wife, Danielle. The ladies who had been so giggly as their husbands worked were now thrown into the battle.

The rat raced through our living room, trying earnestly to save his rat-life. We chased him with broomsticks, swinging them like Roman Centurions. The Rat was fast- he would be under the TV stand, then sprint under a couch. Kirby started hurling his shoes at the rat like a Marine throws grenades. In the background there were squeals and laughter from Katie and Danielle accompanied by shouts of "he ran there"! They were our spotters.
Our enemy ran back to the kitchen, behind the refrigerator, then into another sitting area and under a bookshelf, all the while dodging our blows. You could say that we had bad aim. I would say, Shut up, rats are fast and you weren't there.

We cornered him under the bookshelf. We jabbed and we poked, and I am pretty sure we scored some blows. I tightened my grip on my broomstick and told everyone to back up. I wound up and swung the broom stick. I certainly hit something, but it was more likely the tile floor, because my broom stick snapped in my hands. Like an MLB pitcher had sawed off my bat. I dropped the short piece and grabbed the longer piece, now even more enraged by our inability to end this rat's life. As Katie was shining a light under the book case and Kirby was attempting to spear Templeton, I bear-hugged the bookcase and tried to move it so we could have more access.

The rat finally ran out, charging us again, but he must have been disoriented from battle and blood loss. I scored a direct hit across his back. Two more and he stopped moving. Just like that. We were all sweating, panting and deliriously happy. We posed for pictures with out victim.
Unlike our government during the conflicts in Iraq and Afghanistan, I am keeping a body count. Currently it stands at 3 rats (hat trick?) and 1 mouse. This is a war of attrition, we are in it for the long haul. Keep calm and carry on.


  1. Ben, I knew you were a galant knight! Mom

  2. Great post Ben...and congrats! :-)

    I know someone who loves rats and has them as pets in her apartment in Austin. I. DO. NOT. GET. IT. Ugh.

  3. Ahhh! We are doing this battle with roaches here in Dallas (maybe you know something of this since you are from here?)...I loathe them. One of them crawled on my toddler's foot the other day and I thought I was going to turn into the Incredible Hulk I had such an adrenaline rush.
    This is great writing. It helps me to take something that is so awful and tell a story about it! I hope you are completely successful in annihilating your enemy. Yuck!

  4. Funny! Thrilling! I laughed, I cringed, I did NOT cheer for the rat (just the rat's defeat)!

    The only time I've seen a live rat was in Houston, Texas. We were at a Campus Crusade event at the campus director's house, in the kitchen. It brushed past my leg. I thought it was a mouse at first (a BIG mouse) until they told me it was a rat. Eeuw! Needless to say, I'm with Katie on this. (Plus the logo on those Victor traps is way awesome!) But you're really going to have to plug up their entry holes if you want total victory...

  5. As Larry the Cableguy says, "Now that's funny, I don't care who you are." Good job warrior, but I'm sure the vanquished have many cousins. String those bad boys up with a sign and maybe they will get the message that you will either kill them all or Katie will grin them to death.

  6. An exceptional blessing keep fighting the good fight - i just heard about your adventures!

    Grace and prayers,

    Andy Stern

  7. Mr. Stern?

    I have to know how you heard about us.


  8. the photo of the rat in mid air is nothing short of spectacular! we miss our rat infested life ... cannot wait to get home and join the good fight. (Troy is beyond amazing at killing rats with shovels ... only to have our children say, "Oh Daddy, what happened to that poor rat?"

  9. Oh my gosh! That story was hysterical! I'm proud of the bravery b/c I would have been up on a chair! I'm amazed at the daily sacrifices ya'll have to make in order to help the people there. And definitely some great memories to be made!
    Joanna in TX
    PS- Sic 'Em Bears!!! Sweet 16! Are you keeping up?



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