When I was a young Bandage, I lived in a lovely Victorian end-terrace house. There was a park at the end of the road and that, which I frequently visited. This was, of course, in the days before paedophiles were invented.
In the early days, although we had an inside toilet (it being the mid-1970s), we also had an outside toilet, which was rank but occasionally handy. All good things must come to an end, as, indeed, must all bad things, and my parents had the toilet removed.
Unfortunately, we did not use a qualified toilet remover, we employed some bloke with a lump hammer who knocked it down and naffed off, crucially neglecting to stop up the pipe properly.
Flash forward a few years, and the chickens came home to roost. The flagstones in the adjoining alley collapsed into the mulchy horribleness caused by the unblocked pipe. The water board repaired the path, but the damage underground was already done.
Flash forward a couple more years and teenage Bandage went into the utility room just off the kitchen. They say that in the city you’re no more than 10 feet away from a rat. On this occasion, I was no more than two feet away from one. It looked me in the eye, I looked back. Then we both ran away squeaking like mice. Girly mice. The rat’s underground pad had been washed away by the toilet demolition, and since then he and his extended family had been living under our floorboards.
We called the exterminator, who dropped little red bowls of poison here and there about the house. “Don’t let the dog eat it,” he warned us. We’d guessed that. “What happens now,” we asked. “The poison makes them drowsy, so you can kill them,” he replied. We hadn’t guessed that. We thought he was the exterminator.
For the next week, the men of the house, aided by our trusty Jack Russell ratter, Patch, went on a killing spree. Slightly drunk rats would stagger out, to be clubbed by the end of a walking stick, or their necks would be broken by the jaws of our runty dog.
Finally there were no more rats left. I felt like George Clooney at the end of From Dusk Till Dawn (which hadn’t yet been made, just going to show that Jung was right). Rats are horrible, by the way. Not one redeeming feature.
It was two weeks later that the smell started. A sickly sweet smell whose origin could not be determined. Eventually we traced it to behind the television. We looked, our hearts in our mouths.
There was nothing there. Then I suggested that we check under the floorboards. We lifted the boards and there it was. A rat. A dead rat. A dead rat decomposing with its stomach cavity fizzing with a white substance.
“I’m not picking THAT up,” I said.
“I’m not picking THAT up,” said my uncle.
“Woof!” said the dog.
Then I remembered THIS. The robot hand toy I had been given years before. At last, a proper use for it. I gripped it and slowly manoeuvered it into position. I squeezed the trigger and CONGRATULATION! I SUCCESS! I lifted the rat by its head. I gently lifted it, ready to drop it into the Kwik Save bag being held open by my uncle, when . . .
SPLUP! The rat broke in two around the stomach and its hind quarters fell back into the hole. I was a bit sick in my mouth, but concentrated on the matter at robot hand. I dropped the head end into the bag, quickly went back for the other end, then emptied a bottle of bleach over the rat’s next-to-last resting place. Then I ran upstairs to be sick like a big vomity sicko.
I learned a valuable lesson that day. It was this: never attempt to pick up a decomposing rat with a robot hand toy without the assistance and/or advice of a qualified structural engineer.
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