It had been happening for days.

I would let the dog and cats out into the backyard and they’d head straight for the bench located at the back of the garage. Noses down, they’d pace about. The dog would bark at nothing. The cats would jump on the bench, tails swinging back and forth like a metronome.

Whatever was living under that bench, it was under surveillance. I didn’t care. Live and let live, I say.

On Sunday morning, I was overjoyed to be reunited with my laundry line, after the Carpenter reinstalled it for me. Very few things in life give me greater pleasure than the methodic, meditative experience of hanging damp clothing on my laundry line (sad, but true). The Carpenter was also happy tending to the garden.

Scout, my dog, was still obsessed with whatever was living beneath that bench. She may be an excitable dog, given her half-Chihuahua breeding, but my dog isn’t a digger, until that day. Dirt was flying around as she kicked it up in an attempt to dig a tunnel between the patio stones, to somehow burrow herself to catch the mystery tenant. I found this comical, but I knew the Carpenter would not. He’s particular about his patio stone placement.

While I felt bad for ratting Scout out, the dirt between the patio stones was now a small heap, and the stones were dislodged. I sent Scout into the house and suggested the Carpenter rescue whatever poor little creature was under that bench. It was surely traumatized.

Begrudgingly, the Carpenter moved the bench, expecting a chipmunk to scurry to freedom, but nothing was there except a surprisingly large hole. Not a Scout between-the-patio-stones hole. Not a chipmunk hole. This was the entrance to a deep, dark tunnel headed beneath the foundation of the garage, the Carpenter’s garage. If you think he’s funny about patio stones, imagine the significance of his garage.

The Carpenter got the garden hose and sprayed water into the hole. He was challenging whatever lived in there to come out fighting. And it did. Oh boy, did it ever. A giant rat popped out of that hole. Giant. Rat. It gave new meaning to the expression “drowned rat,” and it came out fighting alright.

I let out a squeal that could be heard clear across the neighbourhood, followed by hysterical giggles, while the Carpenter stood unfazed, holding his ground.

That rat sped past me, heading to the fence line, but I’m confident he was wearing gang colours. He was a street rat, alright, which means there’s more where he came from. A rat pack.  Soon they would  return to take over the Carpenter’s garage. Oh rats.

I looked at the Carpenter still holding the hose in his wet hands, loosening his grip on the nozzle. He was quietly angry, deep in a revenge plot. I knew that look. All he said was, “I think this explains why the holes in the garbage bags keep getting larger. And now, I’m off to buy traps.”

His smile at that last line was unnerving. This was now a turf war.

I’m seriously thinking of buying a can of spray paint and tagging the garage in gang slang, just for fun. Don’t rat me out. He’ll smell a rat in his own time.

I’ll stop now.

WriteOut of Her Mind