Wednesday, May 5, 2010

JDM on Rat Hunting

At Point Crisp [JDM's home on Siesta Key] we found we had some very unpleasant-looking rats living in the tops of the cabbage palms. Geoff [one of his cats] grabbed one and brought it in and let it go in the hall, and it ran into [son] Johnny's room and up the draperies and sat on top of the drapery fixture, squeaking. Geoff looked at it for a moment, then went out to see what might be in his dish. He seemed to be saying, "There's a rat for you. Have fun."

We grabbed him and shoved him into Johnny's room and closed the door. He began an immediate complaint to be let out. He had no further interest in the rat. Nor could we interest [other cat] Roger in it.

Johnny and I armed ourselves with a broom and the dubious pellet gun and went into the bedroom. We looked and looked and we could not find the rat. Yet there was no way it could have escaped. So we began a rat hunt. When you hunt a rat you do not stick your hand behind books and feel around for him. Finally we had looked everywhere except the bed, and when we began to take that apart, a rat-sized hump began to move back and forth erratically under the blanket. I raised the broom to give it a mighty swat, but Johnny yelled no and asked me what I thought his bed would be like if I hit it. So we prodded it out, and it ran over to a chair beside the white plaster wall. It paused for a moment near a leg chair, and I shot it, expecting no result at all. The pellet hit it in the throat. It sprayed an astonishing amount of blood halfway up the wall, ran in circles spraying in random, then collapsed and died in a little red puddle.
-- from The House Guests (1965)
Chapter Eleven

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