Wednesday, February 17, 2016

I Smell a Rat, Part Two: The Capture

(To read the beginning of this story whereby we discovered we had a rat, read Part One)

I had just drifted off to a slumber at the wee hour of 3am when I heard a sort of frantic scrambling sound coming from our walk-thru area. I opened my eyes and laid still. All was quiet except for the babbling brook and chirping birds of the "rainforest" setting on Isla's sound machine. Then, a few seconds later, more frantic scrambling. "What the..?" I thought to myself. And then, no sooner did I have that thought when I realized with a genuine mix of panic, horror and excitement that: WE GOT THE RAT! I sprung up in bed. "Scott!!" I exclaimed in a loud whisper, shaking him by the arm a little more aggressively than one enjoys while still deep in sleep. The sound of more frantic flailing punctuated my urgency. "Oh my god!! Get up now!!" I shook him a little more. And finally, I spelled it out for him, "We. got. the. rat!!"

Scott is not one to wake up instantly (that sort of "at alert" type of waking is reserved for us mother's I think) and after some grumbling and mumbling, he sat up. "Listen...." I said, indicating to lay still and pay attention. We did. Quiet. And then...the unmistakable sound of a captured critter trying to break free. GAH!!! Scott looked at me with saucer-wide eyes and then got down from our bunk. There are a couple things to note about the flailing we were hearing: The first was that the rat was clearly still alive which we hadn't really bargained for. The second, was that - judging from the thumps and thuds caused by his body weight - we were dealing with a rat of substance. But that was neither here nor there at this point, the important thing was that we had him. But now what?

"Oh my god.." I whispered to Scott, careful not to wake Isla who was sleeping not five feet away from us, and not two feet away from the trapped rat. "What if we've only got his tail or his foot in the trap?" My eyes grew wide, "What if he get's away!?! For the love of God we CANNOT LET HIM GET AWAY!" Scott got up and slowly tiptoed into the walk thru area. I was crouched on our bed in the aft cabin, with a clear view into the hall, watching with eager anticipation. "What should I do?" Scott whispered back at me. "I don't want to open this door, scare him and have him break free from the trap..." he trailed off and went to get his head torch in the nav station. More frantic fish-out-of-water-style flailing ensued. Isla, somehow, was still out cold during this ordeal. I prayed that she didn't wake up. No amount of therapy could erase what was about to go down from an impressionable three year old mind.

Scott returned to the walk thru with his head torch glowing red, wielding a small frying pan. "What the hell is that for?" I whispered. He quickly motioned for me to be quiet, and then slowly opened the garbage locker. The bin was clearly blocking the view, and I saw him contort a few ways to try and get a good look. He then tenderly closed the door, and disappeared back into the galley area, taking the red glow with him. More thrashing and suddenly, a new sound...A sort of wheezing whine that *almost* sounded like a faint baby cry. I was disturbed.

The red glow and Scott, returned again. This time with an even bigger frying pan and a giant workman's glove. "Jesus Christ, Scott!" I spat. "What the hell!?! How big is this thing?" He turned to me with a comical smirk and with an uneasy chuckle replied, "It's not a field mouse." I could not stop muttering "ohmygod.ohmygod.ohmygod" on repeat, hugging my legs in the fetal position out of sheer disgust. Scott told me to give it a rest and turned back to the cupboard. More thrashing. More wheezing. Surely this thing would die soon?! And why the hell was he alive anyway!?! Weren't traps meant to kill rodents?!?!

Scott opened the cubby again, looked around some more. And paused. He shut the cubby and returned to the aft cabin. He took the head lamp of like a soldier would take off his helmet from a recon mission. He paused. "The rat is substantial" he started, "My worry is that he's going to get free if I scare him too much. He's thrashing around pretty good in there. I'm not sure what to do." If there is one thing that I am famous for in our duo it is the fact that, more often than not, I think very fast on my feet and come up with great solutions in a pinch. "Grab the glue trap in the shoe cubby" I told him. "Slide it next to the rat. Next time he thrashes, he'll land on that and then we'll know we've got him by at least two ways. Surely he won't get free then." "Good thinking," he replied. He replaced his head lamp, grabbed the trap and went back to ground zero.

The cubby was opened, yet again. More scrambling. More eerie crying. Scott slid the glue trap into the bottom of the locker like it was infected with ebola, recoiled and shut the door. Visible sighs all around. More thrashing and then, quiet. Scott grabbed our little Olympus tough camera from the nav station, opened the door again, stuck his arm in, took a few pics, checked them and, once again, shut the door. He started back toward me again with a smile. "He's on the glue trap. Wanna see?" He wore a twisted smirk. Of course I didn't want to see, but just as one must gawk at an accident on the highway, so must I look at the rat that has been our roommate for God knows how long. "Ugh. Okay" I replied. Scott handed me the camera but not before warning, "He's....substantial." I looked at the pictures and, yes, he was bigger than we thought (but not city alley style) and utterly disgusting and all of that, but I actually felt sorry for the damn thing all helpless, scared and probably hurting in there. I closed my eyes and shook my head in an attempt to erase the images from my mind and get back to business. Pity or no pity, I wanted him dead and gone as quickly as possible.

"Now what do we do?" Scott looked at me hopefully. I was on again. I pondered our next steps for  a moment. "We need to drown him. We can't let him suffer like this." I said, my rat sympathy shining through. "Okay," Scott started. "But how do we do that?" I thought some more. "What if we just throw all that crap into the ocean?" Scott considered this for a second. "It'll probably float with the clamp and especially the glue trap..." he trailed off. He was right. And, anyway, as desperate of a time as this was - it certainly didn't warrant us littering in the ocean. My eyes squinted as I thought some more and then, a lightbulb. "I've got it!" I said with the excitement of a child who's just solved a puzzle. "Take the garbage bag out of the trash bin, put the rat - traps and all - in there. Then we'll take it off the boat and fill the bin with water from the hose." "Good idea!" Scott was happy we finally had a solution. By the looks on our faces and tones of our voices you'd never guess we were plotting to commit murder. By now it was about 4am. This ordeal took every minute of an hour.

Scott went back to the walk thru where Isla was still sleeping soundly, but this time I followed. Scott opened the cubby and took out the garbage bin. I grabbed the garbage bag and brought it on deck. "We'll throw him away in here when he's dead" I whispered. Scott nodded in agreement as he donned the hefty work glove. With a few swift movements, Scott had the rat in the bottom of the bin and we were on deck high-fiving that ratty was officially no longer in our boat. But there was little time for celebration, we still had work to do. The poor rat was still alive, after all.  We brought the bin off the boat and over by the hose. "I feel so bad for him," I said. "Maybe we can set him free far, far away?" "Absolutely not," Scott said. "He might remember where we live and anyway, he's probably dying. Best to put him out of his misery." I agreed, but it was terrible to see an animal suffer and know we were the cause of it. Even though he was a rat and even though I hated him for eating my most favorite pair of shoes, I felt bad for the little guy.

Scott grabbed the hose. The rat had already slowed his thrashing down and I like to think he sensed the end was near. "Turn it on" Scott said firmly. I did. The night was eerie still. There was not a sound to be heard except that of the water slowly filling the plastic bin. The lights of the dock cast a yellow tinge all around us and after the tub was about 1/2 way full, Scott signaled to turn it off. I walked over to see our rat squirm a bit, take what appeared to be three deep, big gulps, and then - everything stopped. He was gone. I shuddered in the night's clammy chill when it dawned on me that I'd never use the idiom "like a drowned rat" quite the same ever again.

We drained the water and Scott put him into the trash bin to throw out at the dumpster. I washed out the garbage can, disinfected it with Lysol and when Scott returned, we retired back into the boat to bed. But not after excitedly recounting the details of the last hour like a couple of teens recounting a good senior prank.

We slept a little easier that night.

But now I can't help but lay awake and wonder: Was he alone?

Boat life, I tell you, never a dull moment.

* Those of you interested, our rat was trapped using the T-Rex Rat Trap with a glob of peanut butter and a chunk of cured meat (sausage) on the trigger.


Tillerman said...

Well done! What an exciting night! Glad it all ended well.

O Docker said...

In lieu of flowers, could you use a fresh jar of peanut butter?

Jason said...

So I'm sitting at work doing everything I can to stop myself from laughing aloud. It's not working!!!

SailFarLiveFree said...

No pictures? Come on...we want to see the culprit!

Anonymous said...

As another reader commented, "No pictures?" - show the culprit!

I_amcdn said...

When I was 18 I worked in a small print shop printing 2.5 x 4 ft blue prints .Each AM I had to take apart my machine which was 2 layers of belts that fed the coated paper / draftman's drawing around an ultraviolet light encased in a glass tube. My AM mission was to spray the glass tube and remove dirt from the previous day's printing as dirt caused specks on the prints. This was all in an ancient building in Old Montreal. Our loading dock was an alley way that was over 300 years old. In addition to fabulous French eateries Old Montreal was also famous for its rat population living in an old closed off sewer system. That morning, as I chatted with my co-workers, I reached in with my Windex and then bent down to look at the tube whilst spraying. There, sitting about 18 inches from my hand, was a small cat-sized rat sitting up on his rear haunches. I dropped the windex and I am proud to say that I ran so fast that that I could have qualified for the '76 Olympics that were in my home town at that time. To this day I hate rats. I think people who have rats as pets are to be avoided as well.
Years later I worked for a guy who sold Chinese crap to the dollar stores in Canada. In certain geographic areas...downtown Halifax, Montreal, St John's NF, waterfront cities...we sold a ton of glue traps to the $ stores in those areas. Glue traps apparently work by giving the rodent a panic heart attack. A heart attack survivor myself I am still all in favour of glue traps.

Unknown said...

As I am in bed on our boat I read this and I laughed so hard that I had tears running down my face! I want to see pictures too!
Though I must admit after reading Part 1 I asked Jim if we could "anti-ratify" our dock lines! Of course he just looked at me with that husbandly stink eye - lol.
What I am amazed at is that Isla would sleep through the entire episode!

Anonymous said...

Am I the only one who wants to see a picture of said rat!?!

Anonymous said...

You are such an awesome writer, Brittany! We felt as though we were right there with you during the re-telling!! (Shiver) We had a very similar story this summer. We were set to barbeque and there was a dang rat looking back at us when we opened the lid. I don't know who was more surprised, us or the rat!! It brought back so many memories for me as I was reading of your adventure, finding that the stinkin' thing was still alive after your first attempt (as was ours), your urgent conversation with Scott on what to do now that you caught it but it still wasn't dead, having to come up with a solution, haha, I literally re-lived our horror by reading about yours. Every sentence was eerily similar to our experience. And when you talked about having to "commit murder"...I seriously lost it at that point!! So, so funny. Thanks for sharing. Another reader comment awhile back suggested you write a kid's story on this topic, and I totally agree. Awesome book material, because seriously, you just can't make this stuff up. :) Love you guys. Sylvia (from Canada)

Joan said...

Good Lord.... I can believe what your readers and you are saying.... there are humane traps... yeah they are rodents.. but use them. I cannot believe anyone would put a poor creature on a sticky strip and watch them die. Bunch of jerks... Sorry kiddo.... it was fine essay you just posted ... but it was just an essay.

maggie lee said...

Yay! Happy to hear you got the rat! Not on fb for a bit...but thinking about you guys!

Aline said...

I'm curious as to what you do with a rat once caught in a humane trap? Do you then feed it in the trap until it dies of old age? Or release it into the "wild" of the island, where it gets to procreate and continue to be somebody's problem into eternity, if it doesn't come right back to the land of milk and honey that is a boat? Or is there a humane way to kill a rat where you're not at risk of getting bit? I'll gladly use one when it happens to me if there's an answer to the "now what" once you've caught the vile beast. Because I'm definitely not throwing out the welcome sign and letting the little bugger chew a hole in my home and sink us to the bottom of the ocean. Glad you put him out of agony quickly. That too is humane

Anonymous said...

Agreeing with Aline. Gotta do what you gotta do. Life isn't always pretty.

The Pied Piper said...

Hi. I've been a follower for years. I wish I had read this hilarious post sooner. My wife and I own a company specializing in catching rats! I would certainly sponsor any future endeavors.
Y'all crack us up.

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