The death of a rat

Lore and I just moved in together to a new house. I don’t intend to go into all the details right now, just know that two of my best guy friends will be living with us as well, but they’re not in town yet. So for the last two days, Lore and I have been moving all of our stuff in, cleaning the dust off the floor and furniture, and discovering all the corners of the house.

We don’t have internet installed yet, so I decided to go work at the Uni’s library today. I had a coffee with Lore early in the morning and then took off. I met some of my class friends and I gladly discussed my views on Ethics (which should be turning to my first essay assignment of this term). A couple of hours went by, I felt like I was working very slowly just ’cause we had so many things to catch up with and I was feeling particularly chatty. Finally, I was left all by myself, with this huge disposition to read about Virtue Ethics while wearing my Batman t-shirt.

A minute later, my phone started ringing. It was Lore, so I picked it up. “Hey Lore, what’s up?”. I could hardly make sense of what she was babbling between all the screaming and crying. I started freaking out.

— Lore, where are you?
— In the house!
— What’s wrong?
— There’s a huge rat, it’s been wandering around in the living room. I don’t know what to do!
— Okay, so what are you doing right now?
— I’m standing on the couch!
— Okay, try to go lock yourself in your room, I will be there in 15 minutes.

There was something in her voice that made me want to fix the situation, you know? My brain switched to work-it-out mode. I quickly picked all my stuff, put my jacket on and ran to my bike. Then I thought “Wait, maybe I should call someone. Maybe there’s a guy who can help me deal with this rat so I don’t have to, right?” But then I realised I can’t keep calling boys to save my life. Not anymore, I should be self-sufficient. So my inner-dialogue continued: “No way. Lore and I will deal with this rat. We will fix this situation.” Then I cheated a little bit and called mom, because of course, she has a lot more experience with rats in houses. I think I woke her up, it was 6 AM in Mexico. “Mom, there’s a rat in the house, what am I supposed to do?” She told me to get a cat, or a dog to scare the rat off. She told me I could use a broom or call a rat exterminator. After getting some ideas, I thanked her and started biking immediately, all velocity, listening to some badass music thinking “I’m going to scare the hell out of this rat, I’m a strong independent student!”

I started to get closer and closer to the house and started realising I had no idea how I was going to react to a fucking rat. What if it wasn’t a cute rat? What if it was super aggressive, huge, black rat? “I can’t think like this, I have to be strong, I have to save the day”. I finally got home and got off my bike. Someone yelled my name from the street. I turned to look. It was Erik, Lore’s friend. I guessed she called him as well, and he rushed to the house to help her out. I felt a little bit disappointed, I wasn’t going to be saving the day after all. But I have to accept I also felt somewhat relieved and I let Erik now that.

I unlocked the front door, Lore was still standing on the couch. She was a nervous wreck. We both tried to calm her down. Erik grabbed a broom and started looking for the rat. I had no idea where the rat was, so I decided to stand on a chair. Erik found the rat and chased her with the broom, I saw her running from the living room to under the kitchen drawers. Lore wasn’t lying, she was fucking humongous. Twenty centimeters at least and really, really fat. I started screaming while standing on the chair, completely freaking out. (This is the girl who was going to save the day, right?). When the rat was cornered in the kitchen, I ran to join Lore on the couch. I thanked the Universe Erik was there. After a couple of minutes, I was able to hold my self together and help Erik from over the kitchen table, trying to spot the rat under the drawers. We waited for several minutes, we started chatting about different rat species and wondering how long she had been living there before we arrived at the new house. We started coming up with ideas to scare her off the house. 

After a while, the rat sneaked a peek from under the kitchen drawers. I caught a glimpse of her just standing there. She wasn’t a horrible rat. It was just a grey, fat rat with a cute little face and tiny hands. She was scared and being super cautious. I felt for her. I didn’t want to harm her after all. Sure, I was scared of her and it’s not proper nor responsible to live in the same house as a rat, but I didn’t want to cause her pain. I secretly named her Sandy.

Sandy went back under the drawers. Lore had been calling the rental agency, they were trying to get someone to help us get rid of her. Seems like all the professional rat exterminators were calling it a day and the agency couldn’t get any immediate help. They finally got someone from the Municipality to drop by and do something about it. Two minutes later, we saw through the window a van parking just outside our house. Lore opened the door. A tall, Dutch man in his 50s walked in. He was wearing all black and had a pair of big black boots on. He seemed really tough, the type of guy who could grab a rat by the neck and throw it five-hundred meters away and go home as if nothing had happened. He started talking to us in dutch, but since none of us know Dutch, we just stood there pointing at the hole Sandy was in.

We watched him as he put these huge rat traps in the kitchen with some substance that apparently attracts rats rather quickly. I caught a glimpse of everybody else’s face. Erik wasn’t happy, Lore and I weren’t either. We knew Sandy’s life was in danger. The guy left and we just sat there for 10 minutes talking about how we didn’t like the idea of Sandy getting hurt, but sadly, we didn’t do anything about it. I started realising how awful it would be to hear her fall in one of the traps, she wasn’t going to die immediately, she was going to be in severe pain for a few minutes before passing out. A slow, painful death. And she had done nothing wrong, she was born an innocent rat. Poor Sandy.

The sound of the trap going off stopped my thoughts. I knew that was the end of her. I closed my eyes, then I started to hear Sandy trying to escape so I covered my ears. Lore did the same. Erik kindly asked us to go around the block, take a walk, while he waited for Sandy to die and clean the mess in the kitchen. He was really supportive and I hope he knows how grateful we were by his presence.

We grabbed our coats and went walking around the new neighbourhood. (Pretty neighbourhood, by the way). Lore asked me “why do you think we feel so bad about rats being in pain?” I told her about this hedonist view I had been reading in my Ethics class, of how it’s morally wrong to inflict pain on humans, or any living being. For the record, I think most arguments on hedonism are full of shit, but they do have a good point, to cause or just be aware of someone else’s pain or suffering, and do nothing about it just feels totally wrong in the gut. It feels wrong with both humans and rats.

I’m still a bit upset about Sandy. At least we’re not freaking out over the couch anymore, and we’re still the owners of our own kitchen. I wish I could at least have a picture of her to commemorate her passing and show her to the occasional reader. All I have for now is this little rat-art memorial I put together for her. 

This goes to Sandy, the cute fat rat we superseded in the new house.

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