At one point in our house in Bath, we had rats in the basement. (Did your skin just crawl? I just got a shiver up my spine thinking about it.) As you probably know already, there are lots of memories I’ve already shared with you about that place. But this is a new one that came to mind recently.
The basement of that house was unfinished. The foundation was there, of course, along with a cement floor. But the internal walls that kept the dirt at bay under the house only rose high enough to keep it there. (This was an old house that had been added onto over the years and the basement showed this gradual increase in space.) It actually provided for a wonderfully cool basement in the summer.
We didn’t give it much thought at the time, but apparently there was a family of rats next door in the neighbor’s barn. They very rudely saw this as an opportunity to infiltrate our cool basement with the unfinished walls and make it their new home. Unfinished walls made for excellent hiding places, so they took to it pretty quick.
I was the discoverer of these new tenants when I went down into the basement one day. As I turned on the light in the main section of it, I saw the flick of a very large tail of something very large itself. I could see that some behemoth of a creature on top of one of the unfinished walls had literally turned tail and scampered back into the shadows. I immediately reported this incident to the powers-that-be (namely my Dad). Then I waited anxiously to see what justice would be meted to these vile and uninvited guests.
It didn’t take my Dad long to come up with a plan. He borrowed a “live trap” from his brother and set it up in the basement at night. He then proceeded to catch these rats one by one and dispose of them each morning. The first rat he caught was absolutely huge! Then each one got smaller and smaller (I think there was a total of four). How did he get rid of them?, I wondered. Well, shortly after this all began, I noticed that a fifty-five gallon rain barrel had appeared outside on the back porch. And it was filled to the brim with water. Upon asking my Dad about this, I found out what was happening to the rats.
I could picture this scenario unfolding in my head: My Dad goes down into the basement and sees that his nefarious efforts to catch a rat have been successful. With suspenseful music playing in the background, he and the rat look at each other. The rats shifty eyes lock with my Dad’s as they size each other up. Dad picks up the trap and the music increases in intensity as he begins the rat’s walk of death. The rat tries to throw itself into the sides of the trap to break free, but to no avail. It then lashes out at the handle of the trap to bite Dad’s hand, but that doesn’t work either. It screeches out in exasperation as Dad exits the back of the house to where the barrel of water is. The rat sees that its end is near and cowers in a corner of the trap. Dad sets the trap down and takes the top of the barrel off, exposing the water inside. The music reaches a climax as he picks the trap up, opens the door and…..
I’ll spare you those details. Dad drowned every one of those rats. I hate animal cruelty, but when it comes to rats….well, let’s just say that I would have given that rat the same steely gaze that my Dad probably did. After this, we all continued to live in Bath happily ever after. Until we moved, that is.