by Rebecca McLeod
Rebecca shares with KRL another fun story from the perspective of her pet rats.
It is half-past two, and the rattery dozes in a repose most identifiable with graveyards and Florida without tourists. Not a creature is stirring, not even a rat replacing a mouse and doing his job much better for twice the pay in cashews.
A dramatic shriek rends the night. It is followed by a scurrying, a thump, and a scrabbling sound that quickly becomes silence.
In the next room I attempt to keep my heart from galloping right out of my throat on an adrenaline high. I am poised to lunge out of the bed to prevent rodent bloodshed but all is quiet. My hubby watches in amusement.
“They’re only doing it for attention, you know,” he sleepily mutters, turning over. I glare at his back and resolve to vacuum near the cages during the rodents’ usual nap time.
“And yore dyin’, clearly,” says Tommy skeptically to the little rex. Bluey nods frantically and turns around to show a faint bite mark on his behind.
“Your hair does look like you perm it,” retorts Smudge, who is cozily tucked next to his partner in the hammock, “I can let you borrow my flat iron if you want.”
“Nice, El Dorado, real nice. Way to beat on a baby,” calls Spotty Boy from the food bowl. He is painstakingly sorting all the sunflower seeds out of the rest of the food so he can eat them first (and not share).
“He lipped off to me,” airily replies El Dorado, sitting down to get the rex fur out of his teeth, “and then he had the nerve to try and duck when I went to pee on him.”
“Bully,” mutters Spotty under his breath, sucking a sunflower seed into his mouth.
“You’re next if’n you don’t hush up,” says El Dorado.
“Yeah? You and what lever? I weigh twice what you do!”
“Bluey, is that true? Did you lip off to El Dorado?” asks Tommy, yawning.
“I didn’t say nuffin,” tries Bluey, turning doleful eyes to the old rat. It doesn’t work; Tommy’s raised a lot of pups in his time.
“What’d you say? C’mon, out with it.”
“I saided…I said dat it was lucky the lady rat he was talkin’ to had bad eyesight cause she couldn’t see his mucky tail and then he bit me for no reason!!”
“See what I mean? And I think that lady rat was really interested in me until the pipsqueak here opened his mouth,” snaps El Dorado, reflexively fluffing his fur up at Bluey who cowers.
“Now, now, boys, what have I told you about lady rats?” asks Tommy. El Dorado and Spotty both look embarrassed.
“I can’t say that in front of the little guy!” blurts out El Dorado, ears going red.
“No, not the one about the doe from Nantucket! You saves that for bachelor parties only, d’you hear me? I mean, what’s the very first thing I taught you about does?”
“Um, uh…oh right! ‘If they ain’t interested now, give it four days’,” recalls El Dorado.
“Eggzactly. Those words are gold, son, pure gold. Now stop biting the little fella and you Bluey don’t be giving none of your lip to El Dorado. He may not be the alpha right now (all the rats excluding Tommy understand that El Dorado is the alpha) but someday he’ll be taking over from me and you’ll be taking orders from him. You’d best be on good terms with him, understand?”
“Yessir Mr. Tommy sir,” replies the little rex, heaving a sigh. He wanders over to the food bowl where Spotty is still sorting seeds.
“Mr. Spotty Boy sir?”
“Yeah little guy?”
“Why you little–” the expression in the little rat’s eyes is pitiful, “oh fine. Here. I’ll teach you how to pick out all the best parts in yore food first and then we can practice stashing snacks in yore favorite corner for later. D’you exercise?”
“Stop, it ain’t doing you no favours. You wanna build size fast, you need carbs and lots of hammock time. Stick with me, kid, and you’ll go far!”
“Yeah, but I probably roll.”
Spotty glares at the cherubic little face.
“You is jest a touch sassy for mah liking, Bluey. Have you ever been sat on by 800 grams of Dalmatian rat?”
Check out more of Rebecca’s rat stories in KRL’s rodent ramblings section.