Wednesday, July 1, 2015

The Brain

            What follows is the story of ‘The Brain’ (a rat) and our endless battle for control of my house.  It was written one night while in a stupor of sleeplessness, sickness, and delirium of medicine.  I read it a few days later and got a laugh out of it, so I thought I would share it with you. 
            This story begins about six months ago when I returned to my house after Christmas.  Upon returning to Vondrozo I found that three rats had taken up occupation of my house and were living in a little hole under my gas tank.  This was first realized on the first night back when the rats began to get in a fight with each other in their new home.  This waking me up, I got out of bed with the intent 
of scaring them away.  Upon lifting the gas tank they all scurried away under my door and out of my house.  The following day I bottled a bunch of bottles of mead that I had made and had been fermenting.  Not having any instruments to test the gravity of the mead I was unsure if it had finished its fermentation, but since it seemed to they eye to have finished and with me needing it the following day, I decided to bottle it.  I would find out latter that it had actually not finished fermenting and was continuing to do so in the bottles; filling the bottles with gas and carbonating my mead.  This was not a problem for the bottles that I carried with me for New Years, but I knew that the bottles that I left had home would undoubtedly explode while I was gone. 
            Returning back to Vondrozo after New Years I was afraid at what state I might find my house.  Upon entering I found that most of the bottles had blown their lids off and a few of them had fallen over as well, pouring their contents onto the floor.  I also found that the rats had returned to my house.  One of the rats had, assumedly, gotten drunk off the mead and drowned in the extremely shallow water that was left in a basin.  That was one of ‘The Brains’ siblings gone.  The others when I would try to scare them off or hit them with a stick would run somewhere else to hide and ‘laugh’ at me, or at least that is what their chirping seemed to me.  Being annoyed by this I set a trap and another rat would fall to the rat trap the following night; leaving only ‘The Brain’ left.  He would be far harder to kill than his two siblings and would out smart every attempt I made at getting rid of him; acquiring his title, ‘The Brain’. 
            I first tried to scare him away, but this was only a temporary fix.  I would find where he was living and he would run away under the door to the house next door.  Or I would here him running about the house and would shine a light on him and he would scurry away next door as well.  This was an annoying temporary fix, as he started to come back every night and would wake me up making noise.  So I set the trap again and waited.  The noise of a rat trap going off is a wonderful sound.  This time though it was followed by high pitched squeaks and crashing sounds as the rat was trying to get out of the trap.  When I shined a light on him I found that he was picking up the trap and running around on his hind legs, only to crash into things because he could not see where he was going.  He was a big rat and the trap, though strong enough to trap him, was not strong enough to kill him.  This I decided I was going to have to do myself.  So grabbing a big stick, I steadied myself over him and took a big swing, bringing the stick down upon the rat.  This to my dismay did not kill him but only brought about a series of even higher pitched squeaks and squeals.  Not wanting to wake up the whole neighborhood with my killing of a rat I decided to take him outside and let him go away from my house in hopes that he would not come back or get caught by one of the many cats and dogs that roam the night.  When I undid the trap the rat hit the ground and ran away, but not before I was able to get a good look at him.  He was a big brown rat, the same as any other rat here, but he was much bigger than any I have seen and had a distinct white patch over his left shoulder like a crescent moon. 
            This was the last I heard of ‘The Brain’ for a while.  I thought that he had given up my house as a place to live and dine, or better yet that he had got caught by some other animal.  I was not happy with him; distained him really.  He was always waking me up at night, for one.  And also he got into all of my food, until I slowly but surely made my food supplies rat proof, mainly by keeping everything he liked in my metal trunk.  What made me hate him the most though was that he ate holes in both my favorite hoody and my American Soccer jersey.  So I was glad that he had not returned.  This forced ‘ceasefire’ did not last long though, only a few weeks, and he was back on his old stomping grounds. 
            With his return he was smarter and more cunning.  Whether this was from his time in my house or what he picked up while ‘on the road,’ I can not say, but he would turn out to be a very admirable adversary.  It would soon begin to seem as if he was just impossible to kill or possibly far smarter than me.  With his return, he took up residence under my cook station, stealing bags and paper to make himself a nest there.  I soon found this and swept it away; so he rebuilt.  This dance went on for only a short time till he decided to take up residence in the office next door; there usually being no people there to destroy his home.  But he would still come over, under the door that connected the rooms, every night to forage for food.  What he found so interesting about my house I can not say.  After his return, there was never any food for him to eat, besides the occasional banana I would forget and leave out.  He also never chewed on anymore of my clothes or anything else.  It was as if we had an unsaid agreement between the two of us that if he did not destroy my stuff I would let him run around the place at night, with the occasional flash of a light to let him know he was making to much noise.  This went on for a while, he running around at night and returning to the office during the day and me shinning a light at him when he clanked bottles or pots and woke me up.
            After a while though I got tired of this dance, really just tired of being woken up, and decided to take measures against him.  The war was back on.  So I bought some cooked meat and set the rat trap.  The following morning the trap was still there, meat and all.  So I set it again with a new piece of meat.  The next morning the meat, this time, was gone, but the trap had not sprung.  It seems he was able to pull the meat off, which I thought I had stuck on fairly tightly, without setting off the trap.  So I set it again, but this time with a hair trigger.  He would not be able to take the meat without setting off the trap this time.  The following morning the trap was sprung, but there was no meat and no rat.  Instead there was fork… It seems he had knocked the fork of the counter onto the trap, or taken the fork to the trap to set it off!  He was making a mockery of my attempts to kill him!!!  Traps it seemed would not work.  He had learned about the trap and now was out smarting me. 
            Not being able to trap him I was forced to take more drastic measures, so I turned to poison.  Buying a bag of poison at the store, I decided to put out one piece the first night.  The following morning there was no poison, but also no rat.  I thought that perhaps he had gone off like he always did and died somewhere else.  So I waited to see.  That night I was dismayed to hear the rat running around again.  So the next night I put out more poison and the next morning it was gone.  So I waited.  This time I was sure that he was going to be dead.  There is no way that he could have eaten that much poison and still lived.  But he had! The following night he was back at his adventures in my house, but now he was also eating small bits of my candle.  I keep putting out poison for a few days and every morning the poison was gone, bits of my candle were chewed away, and ‘The Brain’ was still alive.  I was determined that either this was a ‘super rat’ or he was collecting all the poison for some mischievous reason.  Was he planning on poisoning me?  This I could only hope was not the case. 
            After a few failed attempts with the poison I decided to try to lock him out.  I knew that he was running under the door to the room next to mine when he was done exploring my house at night, so one day I decided to lay a board along the foot of the door to block his passage into my house.  It worked!  He was gone!  I had done away with the rat…at least for a while.  There was no sign of him for weeks and I was in full of hope that he had given up my house a haunt and was no longer going to bother me again.  This was only temporary.  One night as I lay on my bed reading I caught movement out of the corner of my eye and turned to see what it was.  It was ‘The Brain!’  He was scaling down a wire from my roof like he was in Mission Impossible.  I was amazed!
I just sat watching and, unable to help myself, hummed the Mission Impossible theme song in my head.  He was back and this time he was even bolder.  No longer would he run away when I shinned a light on him.  At this he would just look up at me as to say, “What do you want?  I’m busy here.”  So we were back at it again.  Our little war continued. 
            This time I decided that I would try cooking some rice and putting the poison pellets in it.  As expected, he was to smart for this tactic.  He just ate the rice and left me the poison as a slap in the face.  So I cooked him more rice, but this time I crushed the poison and mixed it in the rice.  Still he was to smart.  This he did not even touch but just left it be.  At this I all but had given up on winning this little war of ours.  It seemed he was too smart and there was no way that I would be able to do away with him. 
            A chance meeting with another animal, a rats archenemy, the cat, gave me hope.  One day as I was cleaning my house I saw a cat roaming around my backyard.  Not knowing who it belonged to I decided to ‘borrow’ it for a short while.  Here in Madagascar cats and dogs roam free and fend for themselves for food, so who ever feeds the animal is really who owns it.  So I set out a little cooked rice to entice him to come into my house.  Once in, I shut the door to trap him, but the cat seemed very content with being here.  After eaten, he laid down where he was and took a nap.  I had finally had my ‘secret weapon’ to kill “The Brain.’  There was no way he could out smart or, at least, out maneuver a cat.  So I waited and as night came I went to sleep with the gratification of knowing my problem would soon be rectified.  My sleep would not be as sound as I had hoped.  At about 2 o’clock in the morning I was awoken by the clanking of silverware on the cement floor.  ‘The Brain’ was knocking stuff of my cooking table, down onto the cat below.  The cat was having none of this and soon went after the rat, but to no avail.  I was in the process of watching a live version of Tom & Jerry and, just like in the cartoon, the rat was out smarting the cat and was winning.  In the end the cat, in one night, made more of a ruckus and upset more things in my house then the rat had done in his whole time with me.  So the next day I opened my door and ‘returned’ the cat to whomever he went to next. 
            I was through.  I had no other ideas of how to catch this rat and had resolved to just to share the house with him.  This is when he made his fatal mistake.  Feeling, I can only imagine, confident after his recent successes, he brought in a few friends; two mice, his minions to do his dirty work.  This I could not have.  Perhaps I could not kill ‘The Brain,’ but these new little inexperienced mice would be easy prey.  So I bought some cooked meat and set a trap.  Soon after falling asleep I was awoken by that wonderful sound of a trap being sprung.  I had caught my first of the mice.  After dumping him out in the back of my backyard I reset the trap again and went to back to sleep.  Not an hour later I was awoken again by the trap going off and finding another mouse, the last of the minions, dead in my trap.  I again dumped this one in the back of the yard and reset the trap again and went to sleep.  ‘The Brain’ had no more minions to fetch his food.  Would he go for it himself this time?  I was not hopeful of this.  How many times before had I tried and failed? But this, this would be that fateful night.  By this point in the night I was exhausted.  I had already been woken up twice and so had very little sleep when the trap sounded for its third time.  This being the case I was not awoken by the sound, but was soon aroused by the commotion of ‘The Brain’ trying to escape his folly. 
He was trapped, but only slightly.  He was too big and the trap was unable to give the killing blow it had done to all the others.  ‘The Brain’ ran and threw himself around in a frenzy to escape, but the trap would not let go.  Neither of us was certain what would happen next.  What was I to do with him?  Beating him with a stick would be too noisy and seemed like a distasteful way of offing such an admirable adversary.  But I could not let him go again.  I knew what would become of that; he would just return like he had done the last time.  What if he came back even smarter and determined?  Was that even possible?  What was I to do?  I scanned the house for some answer and my eyes quickly came across a bucket of water I had fetched but had forgotten to use.  It was not exactly a humane way to go, but at least it was not being beaten to death.  So I grabbed the trap and walked to the bucket.  Looking down one last time at my dauntless enemy he turned his head and gave me a wink, as if to say, “It’s been real.”  And with this I let loose the trap and watched as it sunk to the bottom of the bucket.  Even with this he did not give up the fight.  He was big and strong.  He trashed around a bit and a few times swam with the trap to the surface only to be carried down again by the weight of the trap.  It was only a matter of time though.  His energy and his breath would only hold for so long and a few minutes later, at 5:09 in the morning, he took his last breath and our war and my fearless enemy had perished. 

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