Once upon a time...
Actually at about five in the morning on Thursday, I was sound asleep when there was a noise:
Rustle rustle rustle!
I woke up with a start, got up, turned on lights, looked around. Nothing. I convinced myself I'd dreamed it, turned off the light, still half-asleep, went to get back in the bed. Standing next to it, about to climb in, I feel a small animal climb onto my foot. Unfortunately when you are half-asleep in the dark at five in the morning, you don't think—oh yeah I have pet rats, I bet one of them got out. No you think, with every single cell in your body—I am about to be eaten by a scorpion or snake or something otherwise deadly and awful I must kick it away!
Wake up the rest of the way.
Hoshit, I have pet rats and I bet I just kicked one of them.
Turn on lights, hunt under bed. Why look, it's Sora, the same rat that escaped while I was in Tennessee. The least tame, most antisocial rat of all. I checked the living room and there's his cage door, open just enough for a rat to slip out (and how the heck he managed to open it I'd really like to know) and there's his brother Seiji sitting in the cage happy as a clam.
Lovely. I tried peanut butter. I tried Cheeze-its. I tried begging. I tried chasing. I tried sneaking up on.
Eventually the sun came up and I said to hell with it and went back to bed.
Here's the problem. Thursday Julissa was coming to clean for me. Julissa grew up in rural Mexico where rats are vermin, not pets. She tolerates my rats because she likes me, and feels a little sorry for the poor sickly but obviously genius woman with the blue hair and the job that doesn't involve going to an office. Rats are just part of my eccentricity in her eyes, I think. Still, while she's willing to vacuum near rats in cages, she would not be thrilled to be changing the sheets on my bed and have a rat dash across her foot.
But, I reasoned, if Sora is unwilling to come out of hiding for me, the provider of banana chips and other comforts, then surely he'll stay hidden for the monster vacuum lady. Please?
Lucky me, he did. So I did not have to tell Julissa, oh by the way there's a rat loose.
Anyway, Thursday night. I'm sitting around working on the computer in the living room. I see movement by the wall socket. Aha! Rat! I go and close all the bedroom and closet doors so the rat has to stay out here. "Hi rat," I say. "Hi Sora."
I open Sora's cage, deciding that maybe he'll just want to go back in.
Of course now Seiji grows some balls and decides to go out.
Cue seven hours of Sora not going into his cage, and Seiji collecting things and taking them back to the cage over and over and over.
Finally it is late. I am tired. Seiji is in the cage, Sora is near it. I have tried more bribes with no success. I try a pretzel.
Sora wants the pretzel.
Sora is doubtful when I pull the pretzel a little.
Sora decides to make a dash for the fireplace. The gas fireplace. With the lit pilot light. He disappears behind the logs.
Cue me panicking.
Sora comes out, not burnt to a crisp. Hothankgod. I go to close the little mesh curtains on the fireplace so that doesn't happen again...
Sora sees me closing his new favorite place in the whole world, and dashes back into the fire!
Now he's under the logs. Right under the flame. And there's a tail. A whole tail all the way to his fuzzy little butt. Now listen up folks, it's never, ever, ever a good idea to pick up a rat by the tail, because you can injure their spines, pull their tails off, pull the skin off their tails, etc. If you must grab a rat by the tail, grab the base, right by their furry little rump.
Grab. Pull out from under fireplace. Accidentally disassemble fireplace. Get bit on left index finger by panicked and angry, (but hothankgod not burned to a crisp) rat. Bleed all over hearth. Return rat to cage.
Seiji: You're back? I thought I kicked you out. I sold your stuff. Leave, or I'm getting a restraining order.
Sora: *huff* *huddle under shelf*
Seiji: You won't leave? Bastard, I'll show you! *attack*
Nene: *GUILT GUILT GUILT* also *bleed bleed bleed*
I bandaged it. Bled through bandage #1, so I rebandaged it. Bled through again, became annoyed and rebandaged it again.
I fed them. I apologized. I did not reassemble the fireplace. Sora has huddled under the shelf all day today. He would not even come out for toast. I am a bad, bad rat mom.
But at least my apartment will not forever smell of roasted dead rat. That, I think would have killed me with the guilt.
Context is burned, cheezed, and bleeding, but triumphant.