Rattus rattus By Karen Charlton

Last summer we had a massive rat problem in our yard. They'd eaten through an entire bag of grass seed in the garden shed, as well as snail pellets, cardboard boxes and rags. The ultimate insult came when the perpetrator shimmied up our quilted BBQ cover, squeezed himself between the roasting hood and the hot plate to get to the slightly charred morsels of satay nuts in perfect proportion for rat sized paws. After his feast he left perfectly formed torpedo shaped sprinkled over the hot plate like sprinkles. Of course we didn't discover this until we pulled the cover off for dinner. We ended up eating out that night. My husband - being our nominated pest remover - decided to lay out bait and traps to try to catch or kill the vermin. But the rat does not choose to die anonymously in our large, wild block. He goes deeper, finding that space between our bedroom, our ensuite and my husband's wardrobe. and dies inside the stud wall during the summer's one and only heat wave. A rancid smell permeates the plaster wall and drives us to sleep on the couch in the sunroom. This is possibly the only wall in the house that was built on top of the floor, making access for human hands almost impossible. An hour and a half of contorting and dry retching, amid the jungle of subterranean sewer pipes and floor joists, Bruce finally finds our espionage specialist. Part of him anyway. Whatever remains is the sour smell of justice. His, or ours, I'm not quite sure.

in Mornington, Victoria, Australia


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