Sunday, November 8, 2009
You know how it goes. Though my day was filled with poetry and beauty, there loomed the matter of the dead rat.
My cellar is pitch black, and I get to it by opening the trap in a bedroom closet. Then I scoot my butt over the opening, and stretch my legs down to reach the top stair while holding on to either side of the closet floor so I don’t freefall into the pit.
It’s a dark trail often leading to a dark deed. Down below is where you’ll find the furnace, air conditioner, water heater, mice and the mouse death machines. I once opened the trap for the Water & Power guy and he stared down this porthole to eternity and said, “You’re kidding, right?”
I would put it off. I could ignore it, but my dogs were now sniffing around the closet and the heating vents incessantly, which meant something fascinatingly dead down yonder lay. “We got it!” they seemed to say. And their sniffing irritated the hell out of me, partly because it forced me to acknowledge what lies below, and partly because the dogs never sniff out the rats when they’re alive. You got it? I got it, lazy assholes. So I locked the useless beggars away and down I went, with a double grocery bag so I could turn my head as I upended the bodies (Stuart and Remi) from the death chambers.
And no, it’s not as if I can’t get anyone to do this for me, paid or unpaid. But somehow it seems important, if I’m pulling the trigger, I take care of the aftermath. And I think it’s bad form to begin a phone conversation with, “About my dead rat…”
Besides, I am not a handy person. I can’t unstop a tub, fix a leak, replace a board. Killing rats is about the only thing I’m good for around the house. Diana the Huntress may have had bigger fish to fry, but I think we could trade a few war stories.
Earlier in the day, I led a group tour around The Huntington. Somewhere near the Lotus Pond we ran across a dead mouse by the side of the road. One of the women squealed and grabbed the arm of the nearest gentleman. Everyone knows a dead rat outside the house bears no resemblance to a dead rat inside the house. They are not the same animal, they have different genetic codes. So I suspect the woman had just been looking for any old opportunity to meet this handsome single man. They ended up spending the rest of the tour in each other’s company. Something may happen between them, or something may not. But if it does, I will become part of their personal landscape – forever tied to the day they first met. Me and their dead rat. That was the poetry part of the day.