I was dozing; that place between wakefulness and sleep, where dreams come fast and easy, vivid and crisp, and sometimes disturbing.
My wife had been up, potting her plants, for a good 30 minutes, when she barged into the bedroom.
“We’ve caught one!” she yelled, and then vanished from the room.
I mumbled something nonsensical, rolled over, and dreamt of a big rat. Because I was in That Place, and when my wife said, “We’ve caught one!” I knew that that “one” meant rat.
Having had enough of my crazy rat-infested dreams, I got up and went to check on the wee fella.
There he was, with eyes like shiny black pearls, cowering in the corner of the humane trap we’d laid: a plastic tube, with tasty food (poison, actually) at the far end. To get the goodies, Roland had to stand on a switch, which then slammed shut the pair of wild-west-style doors, locking him inside.
So, technically, we hadn’t caught one; Roland caught himself… because he was hungry. So hungry he would eat succulent poison.
Speaking of succulent, that’s how we first discovered we were having rattish visitors on our balcony; we found teeth marks in our succulents—my wife’s pride and joy. Hence why she declared war on Roland and all of his friends and family, and bought poison and traps.
Me: Don’t get poison. I don’t want a dead rat on the balcony.
Wife: No, this poison just makes them thirsty.
Me: So, what, you’re gonna give it poison and then a refreshing drink to wash it down?
Wife: No. They eat the stuff, and then they need a drink, so they go down to the sewers-
Me: Like Shredder.
Me: Never mind. Carry on.
Wife: So they go into the sewers, and die there, instead of up here.
(Meaning our balcony, which is a rooftop apartment on the 5th floor.)
Me: OK. But if we find a dead rat, you’re getting rid of it.
Wife: Yup. Sure.
Jump forward a fortnight. I’m taking the clothes out of the washing machine, and I see something at the corner of my eye. Something brown, wet, still.
Wife: Oh, my god! I’m gonna be sick! Get rid of it! Get rid of it!
(I got rid of it.)
Roland’s sister (let’s call her Rhonda) was trying to drink the water, that had accumulated from the washing machine, near the drain.
Rhonda smelt of gas.)
So now, with Roland, alive and kind of well, in our trap, I was pretty pleased.
No gas rat!
I ignored my wife’s war-like cries from behind the door (“Kill it! Kill it! Kill it!”), put the rat-in-a-trap in a bag, and took it to the local park.
I don’t mean to, like, let it have a blast on the swings or anything, but to set it free.
It took a while, but eventually he realised the doors were open, then pegged it into the nearest bush.
A happy ending for Roland.