A rat

With my chair tilted back
        and the cat in my lap,
I thought I might take
        a long afternoon nap,

When out from the kitchen
        there arose such a clatter,
I slipped into my shorts
        to see what was the matter.

The noise was a rat, and it was big — the size of a baked potato, stuck in a glue trap near the refrigerator. As it contorted, the trap slapped into the wall, and then the bottom of the fridge.

Sure, our house has rats. We flatmates all chip in $5 every few months to buy glue traps, and we've killed a dozen rats, maybe more, in the year and a half I've lived here.

This one was trying to get away, but couldn't. Its belly and back legs were glued to the rectangular trap, and its front legs, still free, were clawing at the floor, but not making much progress.

As I stepped out of my room the rat saw me and began rat-screaming, which is a loud and awful noise. In extra terror at the sight of me, the rat made more progress, slowly and with great effort dragging the trap across the kitchen and toward the bathroom, then into it.

When I stepped within about six feet of the rat, it screamed again, terrified. When I kept my distance, it seemed to forget about me, and the only sound was the glue trap banging the linoleum. I kept my distance.

♦ ♦ ♦

With every trapped rat so far, my flatmates have hammered its skull, peeled the rat off out of the glue, and tossed its body into the dumpster. Then they put the glue trap back on the floor to catch the next one. We save a little money that way, recycling the traps.

All four of the men living here have agreed that hammering rat heads is kinder than simply tossing the stuck but still living animal into the dumpster, to die in the darkness of thirst or starvation.

Besides, how ya gonna pry the rat out of the glue if it's still alive? You'd get bit. 

The hammer's been wielded by Dean, by Charles, and once by our fourth flatmate 'L', but never yet by me. With no-one else home or awake, though, today it was my turn to hammer a rat, but... I decided not to.

I've made it through the sixty-plus years without hammering any animal's head, so someone else can do it. Instead I grabbed two popsicles from the freezer and returned to my room, leaving the rat in the glue trap, stranded, struggling on the bathroom floor. 

♦ ♦ ♦

Twenty minutes later, I can't hear the rat, but it's hard to forget it's in the bathroom, flat on its belly, stuck, frightened out of its rat mind. It'll be in the bathroom for as long as it takes someone else to find it and hammer it.

♦ ♦ ♦

Why are we at war with rats? It's startling, yes, to see a rat in the house a few times every month, but they're more scared of me than I am of them. The rats don't eat our food; we keep the boxed stuff on high shelves. They've never come into my bedroom; we only see rats in the living room, the kitchen, the bathroom, and the laundry room. So why are we killing 'em? 

If we'd never bought any traps, guess there'd be a dozen more rats in the house than there are. Those rats would've had rat families, and we'd have a rat civilization at our feet. Instead of occasional ratshit pellets to sweep up from the kitchen floor, we'd have drifts.

Maybe. I dunno.

♦ ♦ ♦

Thinking all this over and writing about it, I went back to the bathroom to get a more vivid description of the rat in its gluey deathtrap.

When last seen, it had been beside the toilet, 60% of its body stuck in the glue, its front paws still free. But now, the rat is gone.

Instead there's a few inches' smudge on the floor, of adhesive and rat hairs. The trap has been pulled all the way to the bathroom sink, crinkling the mat on the floor, and now the trap rests beside the narrow clearance between sink and tub, where we've sometimes seen rats scurry, and where a ball of cheese was once discovered.

But the trap is empty, except for five rat turds in the glue, and a single Honeycomb cereal bit.

When the rat dragged the trap to the base of the sink, it must've leveraged itself against that water-warped woodwork to work its way out of the glue-goo. And the damned thing got away alive. Jeez, I wish I'd seen that.

With half its body glued, how long a rat can survive in the walls and under the floorboards is beyond my ability to guess. By now the stickiness must be covered with dust, lint, and asbestos from behind the wall. Maybe the stuff stuck to the rat will nullify the glue's stickiness and it'll be able to move around. Or perhaps it'll die deep in the walls, and stink up the house horribly as it rots.

The varmint earned my respect, though, for a great escape, and I want no part in killing something I respect. I'm done chipping in for the glue traps, and I'll never hammer a rat's head. I'm declaring peace, and me and the rats can share the house.



  1. I enjoyed your tail of Donald Trump on the campaign trail. As metaphor, it was delightful and I'm sticking with that position. I'd share a house with sticky rat WAY before I'd share one with Donald the rat. They might BOTH show up for the Republican debate, necessitating nametags for candidate-ID.

    Seriously, I know it's a terrible week, but this post was really well written.


    1. Thanks for the nice note, and I'm seriously telling the truth when I say I never know. This one, I read it three times and hovered my finger over the 'delete' button for ten seconds before finally hitting 'publish' instead. If I'd had anything better ready to go, it would've definitely been a 'delete'.

  2. https://voenixrising.com/wp-content/uploads/2023/08/karma.jpg You're a good man, Doug.

    1. Jeez, that's far more profound than either I or the rat story deserved. I'm a bit misty-eyed, thanks.

    2. I would be SO happy to meet each of those darling creatures again!

    3. I'd love to spend an afternoon exploring the woods again with Blackie, a marvelous particular labrador retriever from my childhood.

  3. You can now listen to Marco McClean's narration of "The Sticky Rat!"

    I spliced it out from the podcast and uploaded it to:

    I recommend you download it, as I will remove it from my cloud service about a week later...as I use only their free service, which limits me to 20 gigabytes max. Keep it for your delectation. From now on I will splice out anything else Marco reads of yours, and provide you with a link to download it. Only takes me a few minutes, including finding an appropriate image.

    Instead of waiting for the next off-chance when he'll pick up another one of your tales, you should know that Mr. McClean invites anyone to send them a story, essay, poem or other kind of piece they wrote, to read on his show. Here's his email:

    Send it in text or rtf format, please, as an attachment. Though if text only you can also just past it into the message body.

    Here's his podcast site BTW:

    I conjecture you signed your soul over to the devil to be able to write so good. Don't ask me how I know.

    - Ezekiel Joseph Krahlin
    Soon to be celebrated worldwide for his extraordinary, better-than-Shakespeare-Mark-Twain-Dr.-Seuss-Dorothy-Parker-etc. tales and will soon take over the planet with his Mighty Mouse Virus because he also has hacker allies to do his bidding, ones with two horns, a tail an a pitchfork. See: http://www.gay-bible.org/write/3_security.htm

    1. Errata: the correct URL for Marco's podcast site is https://memooftheair.wordpress.com/

    2. Ha! Thanks for editing and uploading — it's amusing to hear someone reading what I thought was a so-so piece...

      I've heard of Marco McClean's show, I think because he read something of mine a few years ago, and I may have listened to a few episodes. He does good radio, or is it a podcast — seven hours once weekly, a huge collection of whatever he finds interesting.

      Only time I've ever heard anyone read my stuff out loud before was when I guested on a pirate radio show in Berkeley in the 1990s. That was weirder, because I was sitting right there. Like second grade, having the teacher read your essay to the class...

    3. "Memo of the Air Nighttime Radio" is a live radio show, then converted into podcasts. Makes good sense, because how many folks actually listen to the airing for a full seven hours, overnight? I find it exhilarating to hear another person read my work, and I actually learn more about myself in the process. Another Youtuber, a female who calls her channel "Curious Raven" read two of my scary tales in one shot ("Skin in the Box" and "The Screaming Machete"). Together they total 20 minutes, and you can listen here:


      She did a bang-up job in spite of her occasional glitch with a word here and there. She's young and still learning, though I have no doubt she'll grow into one of the most superb narrators out there. VERY nice person.

    4. Furthermore: your "sticky rat" piece was NOT "so-so," it was incredible!

    5. I like the stories — you had me at "content warning." And yup, she reads well.

      You're from SF too? I spent some of my favorite years there, in an earlier century when poor people were allowed within city limits.

    6. Yeah, Curious Raven rocks, she's gonna go places, good places. I've been a resident of Bag Daddy by the Bay since 1973, minus a 3-year escape to Santa Cruz County from 1980 to 1983. Been an activist and advocate of our LGBT houseless since 1985. While my Wordpress blog supercedes my website now, the latter has a treasure of my writings and other fluffery that makes it still valuable in spite of its dated appearance: gay-bible.org. For one, I REFUSE to give up that URL, they'll have to pry from my cold, dead hands first. Have a great evening in lovely Seattle, Doug!

    7. Gay-bible.org is rocking my morning. Every click is fun.

      So far I've smiled broadest at your angry but loving letter to the BAR about Peter Davey, down to the sad but loving postscript.

      Marvelous that you're open enough to broadcast your then-annoyance at the guy (did BAR print it?).

      Me, I'm Mr Inward — I might write a rant like that, but I wouldn't have the boldness or balls to submit it to the free weekly paper.

      My belated condolences, btw.

      I'm also hypnotized by your short video clip "Streetcar 1" at the bottom of this page. This is complete teleportation and time travel:

      Maybe you were on someone's balcony, but below there's a crosswalk right where you shot the video. I waited or jaywalked at that crosswalk every night after handing out flyers all day wearing the green cape.

      Jeez, I think my body memory knows just where the 'walk' button is, or was.

      Never change anything, please, on that gorgeous antique site...


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