“Did you move this box?” Hubs asked me Friday morning, gesturing toward a large cardboard box a few feet away from our bedroom door. (Said door leads to the deck.)
“No,” replied, not paying much attention. “I think the kids did it when they were playing in here.”
“Well, I moved it there before I left to go hunting,” Hubs said indignantly. “There’s a hole at the bottom of the door from all the rain. I didn’t want any wildlife to get in.”
Niiiiiiice, I thought. I love the way he didn’t bother to mention a critter-attracting hole BEFORE he left town. For a week.
Hubs continued puttering around the room and I left for work. He had the day off. So unfair.
Around 3 p.m., he called me.
“I probably shouldn’t tell you this, but — ” He paused.
“What?” I asked distractedly.
“Well, this morning, when I was moving some things around in our bedroom, and this little furry thing went racing across the floor, so I chased it around the room, and then it ran back toward the door, where the hole is, only I’d put the box back in front of it, and then he disappeared, but I think he managed to squeeze behind the box and through the hole.”
“Furry?” I asked. “Like a mouse?”
“Noooooooo,” Hubs said reluctantly. “I think maybe it was a small rat.”
Now I don’t know why, but whereas I can kind of convince myself that a mouse possesses a sort of whiskery cuteness, the thought of a rat brings up images of the beady, yellow-eyed rodent — with glistening fangs — in Lady and the Tramp. You know, the rodent that’s out to make a snack of the new baby.
“WHAT?!” I screeched. “Are you telling me that I’ve sharing my bedroom with a RAT while you were off hunting all week?!”
“Er, yes,” Hubs replied.
“Well, are you sure it’s gone?”
“Oh, yes,” my spouse assured me. “I’m positive.”
I spent the rest of the afternoon wondering what the rat had been up to each night. Had it perched on my nightstand, watching me sleep? I thought of the glistening fangs, of the long, creepy, stringy tail. Thank God it hadn’t made its presence known while Hubs was gone. The kids and I would have been squealing down the driveway on our way to a hotel if I’d caught even a glimpse of the littl varmint.
Hubs told he he’d patched up the hole, and by that evening, I’d put the sighting out of my mind. Until, that is, I heard a yelp in our bedroom.
“Cathy!” Hubs yelled. “Get in here, quick!”
I tossed the remote and ran for the bedroom. Hubs was crawling on all fours and looking underneath our bed.
“What is it?!” I shrieked, even though I already knew.
“It’s still here,” Hubs gasped, still circling the bed. “I chased it across the room and opened the door, but then it swerved and went under our bed. I need you to stand there and watch for it. Make sure it actually goes out the door this time.
Does the man really think I’m going to just stand here, waiting for a rat to emerge? Is he out of his mind?
I shut the door and returned to the living room.
Fifteen minutes later, Hubs emerged from the bedroom, panting yet victorious.
“I’m sure he’s gone this time,” Hubs said.
“Did you actually see him leave?”
“Well. No. But he isn’t anywhere in our room. I checked.”
“What if he got out before I shut the door?” I asked.
“I’m positive he went outside,” Hubs assured me.
“Yeah, that’s what you told me this morning, remember?”
Still unconvinced, I made Hubs scour the house. When we finally turned in, I made a running leap for the bed.
“What are you doing?” Hubs asked as I landed in an ungraceful heap.
“I’m not giving that thing a chance to sample human flesh,” I said. “It might develop a taste for it.”
Needless to say, I did not sleep well. The next day, Hubs set out a trap in our bedroom. Thus far, it remains untouched and there have been no further sightings.
This does not comfort me.
Because I just know that rat is waiting for Hubs to leave town again before making his presence known.