Having not seen nor heard from Mr Rat the whole of Boxing Day, we were somewhat put out to hear the ‘banging’ sound again in the kitchen rather late the next day. The wily rodent had obviously not taken the bathroom window route to freedom on Christmas night.
My son N, wife K and daughter Princess were visiting and we had just finished off Helen’s ‘cheesecake’ lavishly topped with ice cream. ‘Lite’ variety of course…..
We all agreed that the sounds emanated, once again, from the kitchen. So K – being the intrepid warrior known as ‘Admin’ that she is – urged WJJ into the kitchen with her where they surveyed the silent cupboards and sullen appliances.
Convinced by now that Mr Rat had got himself into the large swing top garbage bin and had been battling to get himself out, Admin persuaded WJJ to carry the garbage bin out of the apartment. N and his mother relaxed calmly in the living room and – honestly – only kept their eyes peeled because they did not want Princess to get a fright if Mr Rat came hurtling around the door jamb into the room.
At Admin’s insistence, the garbage bin was carried down four flights of stairs to the garden and deposited under a shrub for the night. And that we assumed was that for Mr Rat. N, Admin & Princess departed for home and WJJ and I proceeded to batten down the hatches. Just in case, all doors leading into the kitchen passage were locked and further sealed with towels rolled ‘draft excluder’ style. Mr Rat would not be able to venture into any other rooms other than the kitchen and the passage.
Safely barricaded behind the bedroom door, WJJ and I settled down for the night – only to awaken when WJJ paid his customary 2:30am visit to the bathroom. I followed suit and it was a real schlepp to lock and seal the bedroom and bathroom doors with rolled towels all over again.
Once awake, I can never go right back to sleep and I lay in the darkness thinking of nothing much in particular. A faint sound jolted me into total wakefulness and I strained my ears listening carefully in the darkness. There it was again and this time I knew that Mr Rat was trying to enter our room – the faint scratching sounds made that obvious.
Very quietly I sat up in bed and reached carefully for my light switch…. blinking in the suddenly brightly lit room I literally had to slap my palms over my mouth as I fought nausea spasms that rushed up in my throat. There, in full view, was Mr Rat making his way across the expanse of carpet towards the barricaded bedroom door. As I gaped in horrified shock, the damned creature took fright, turned tail and ran towards me scuttling back under our bed!
Frozen in my sitting stance, I managed to prod WJJ awake enough to grunt ‘bullsh*t’ when I whispered frantically that the freaking rat was in our room. With much muttering and with me directing operations from atop the bed on my side, WJJ got out of bed and came around to my side to stand there nonplussed. With both of us holding our positions while we assessed the situation, we decided that WJJ would subject his creaking knees to torture and shine my torch under the bed to seek the dreaded rodent.
Sure enough, there under the bed on WJJ’s side was Mr Rat himself – no doubt as frozen in terror as we were. With much effort and more creaking of arthritic knees, WJJ came upright and stood immobile next to my side of the bed. Both of us were too scared to move a muscle but something had to be done…
Gathering up all my courage, I inched my way to the bottom of the bed – all the while expecting Mr Rat to latch onto my toes at any second or maybe even jump up onto the bed next to me. Of course, I was the one who had to leave the room immediately to direct operations from the safe- uh – from the vantage point of the balcony. With amazing agility, I leapt off the bed, rushed to the door and was out of the bedroom in about 2 seconds tops.
Summing up the best battle strategy, I opened the front door as well as the security gate, leaving them wide open, all the while shouting – he won’t wear his hearing aid – encouragement to WJJ still trapped in the bedroom with just a walking stick and a miniature torch as weapons.
Our kitchen has no door so I wedged a full length framed mirror from the guestroom across the doorway to the kitchen. Now our intrepid rodent only had one way to go when leaving our bedroom – down the passage and out of the front door.
I made my way through our lounge to the enclosed balcony and directed operations through the bedroom window. WJJ was instructed to quietly open the bedroom door, creep round the bed, get back down on knees and vigorously rattle walking stick under the bed….
Mr Rat streaked out from under the bed, through the door, turned right – crashing into the mirror barricade – veered left and hurtled down the passage and out the front door. WJJ, now triumphant in victory with enemy in full retreat, boldly followed him out the door only to see Mr Rat stop in his tracks and come racing back down the corridor towards our front door.
Much brandishing of the walking stick and loud hollering ensured that the animal once again turned tail and fled onto the landing above the stairs. WJJ assures me that he did wait long enough to see Mr Rat start down the stairs before he firmly slammed the foyer door, blocking any return to #6.
And that, said the proverbial cat, was that for Mr Rat.
One small thing still bothers me though and really doesn’t bear thinking about.
The following day, we asked our weekly domestic worker J to clean and vacuum very thoroughly under the bed. Knowing the long story of Mr Rat, J called me to come see what had come out from under the bed. Huge piles of fluff – just shows how well she cleans – littered with little black droppings.
Says J in her broad accent, “Maffrou, hy moes BAIE lank onder die bed gewoon het om so baie drolletjies te maak!”………..