as i sit here with what feels like a combination of jetlag, post-traumatic syndrome, and a hangover, i wonder where we went wrong. surely, there must've been an easier way to get to this point.
yesterday, we cleaned out the cabinet underneath the sink, only to discover that the DDR (damned dirty rat) has been hording food and stockpiling it there. we also found his gateway from the nether world, the hole in the sheetrock through which he gained entrance. disgusted, we cleared out the cabinet and set a trap with a tantalizing morsel of chicken.
at 1:30 am, the trap was triggered, but instead of blessed quiet, there was a great thrashing about, punctuated with rodent screams.
this was upsetting.
we dared not open the doors to the cabinet when clearly the DDR was not dead, and in fact, sounded quite fired up. i called the city, who referred me to a website which offered us rat data for nyc, but didn't mention who to call in the middle of the night when you have a live rat caught in a trap. by this time, it was very late, and hoping that perhaps it was a mortal injury and that the DDR would be dead by morning, we went to bed exhausted. i don't want rats where i live, but i also don't want to torture them, so it was difficult knowing that the Deed was not yet done.
unfortunately, as i lay in bed in the dark, i could hear the DDR battle with the trap. i slept off and on for a while, mostly off. a few brief hours later, i was up because i had i heard what sounded like something being dragged across the kitchen floor. i discovered that the DDR had pushed it's way out of the cabinet, crawled across the kitchen floor dragging the trap that was clamped onto a rear leg, and made its way up into a hole underneath another cabinet. but the trap wouldn't fit and the DDR couldn't go any further. it would've been so easy for me to reach down and release him and go back to bed hoping that we'd catch him another day, but i didn't. i couldn't stand that this wasn't a quick kill, but that DDR must die.
i woke ej. we decided that we would pull the trap with the DDR out of the hole, drop him into a long cardboard box and take him downstairs to the basement to make him an offer he couldn't refuse. (i didn't tell ej, but i was hoping to bow out of the proceedings right after the drop into the cardboard box.) with long bbq tongs, ej pulled on the trap.
i wasn't prepared for the volume, or the intensity, or the general freakiness of it all. the DDR wouldn't come out. ej let go of the trap. i steeled myself and ej tried again.
this was giving me the heebie-jeebies. there was ej using the tongs to pull on a trap that was clamped onto a rat which was holding on for dear life to a hole in our cabinet. i could see the trapped leg, the back half of the DDR stretched out, but that determined rodent wouldn't come out. ej let go. he said he would try one last time, but that if that failed, we needed to call an exterminator. i agreed. one last time, ej pulled.
i wanted to scream too.
the DDR wouldn't budge. ej let go and i ended up going down the street to where we'd seen an exterminator sign. they sent someone in about an hour and i was so relieved to hand over the rodent reins, i nearly hugged him.
theodore the exterminator surveyed the situation. he assured me that he would end the DDR's life as quickly and humanely as possible. my mom had joined me by this time and we left the apartment while theo did his job. i did not want to hear any more squealing, so i waited out on the sidewalk in front of our building. and waited. and waited. what could be taking so long? i found out that theo was also unable to pull the DDR out of the hole. he said he's done hundreds of rat removals, but he's never seen a situation like this. great. he calls anthony, a co-worker, to assist him and explains that they'll pump "tracking powder", a very potent poison, up into the crawl space and onto the rat to kill him first, that way they should be able to remove him more easily. they figured he would be dead within half an hour so we all left and came back over 30 minutes later only to find that this DDR, this king of the rats, was still very much alive. what the hell kind of horror movie creatures are these new york rats???
the exterminators shook their heads. plan c was to pry off the piece of cabinet that was helping to hold the rat in place. i was downstairs having a nice sit-down at this point. i heard them wrenching wood, i heard the DDR squealing, i heard the men yelling things like "get him!", "suffocate him!", and "hit him with the hammer!". then pound!pound!pound!, a scuffling of boots, more squealing and pounding. then quiet. that's when i went back upstairs.
i half expected blood to be splattered everywhere, but instead tools and pried moulding and a dusting of tracking powder covered the floor. the refrigerator was standing in the middle of the kitchen and the men were standing proudly, though wearily, with what appeared to be a touch of shell shock. the Deed was finally done.
what i saw when i got out of bed.
before the Deed: theo and anthony formulate the plan of attack.
after the Deed: catching their breath.
kitchen in disarray, theo collects the dead damned dirty rat.
anthony and theo: the heroes of third avenue.