About four o'clock on a Tuesday afternoon, the phone rang. It was a former neighbor; she wanted to know if she could come over and type some information about her family reunion on our computer. Now, this former neighbor had not been to our house more than one or two times in the past decade. Completely taken by surprise, I quickly explained to my wife, Cheryl, what the situation was. Cheryl just looked at me. I said, into the phone, no problem, what time do you think you will be here? Thinking out her schedule out loud, she concluded that she would be at our house about six PM. Was that OK?

How long do you think it will take?

About two hours.


Cheryl and I had a problem! About five minutes before the phone call, I had arrived home to be told that there was a rat in the closet in the computer room. We were just deciding what to do when our former neighbor had called. Now, we had to get rid of the rat, and quick. I decided that the rat could be spooked out, and would have to be steered out of the computer room, across the living room, and from there, out the sliding glass door into the back yard, where it belonged.

We started by setting up a chute with barricades from the closet, through the computer room, and into the living room. We closed the doors into the other rooms, and set up boxes to make our chute.

I began to remove the "stuff" in the closet. (Cheryl had lots of stuff in this closet.) Box by box, blanket by blanket, I carefully removed the "stuff," until, all of a sudden the rat dropped from the top shelve to the floor, ran out into the middle of the room, and ran back into the closet. Now we knew; the rat was in the closet! We knew that all along, but now we had seen it. We also had seen how quick this little critter was. It was very very quick. I told Cheryl to stand outside the computer room door, and watch to make sure the little stinker went out of the computer room, and through the living room, and out the slider. Above all, I said, "don't scream." Just watch where the rat goes.

It was now about five PM. Our visitor was due in an hour. Why this should matter, neither of us knew, but it did.

We fortified the chute out of the computer room. Especially helpful were the boxes of artificial Christmas trees that had never been opened. They were long and solid.

"Why do we have all these Christmas trees?" I asked.

"Because they were on sale."

Never mind; they made a good chute.

Now I began to remove the remaining "stuff" from the closet. The rat was nowhere to be found. Almost everything was out of the closet. I'm not sure exactly what happened to cause it, but all at once the rat flew out of the closet, ran across the room (through the chute) and out into the living room, Cheryl screaming all the while. That was when the plans went awry. The rat, after running out of the computer room, and past Cheryl, leapt across the living room chute and ran into the kitchen. Somehow I managed to run (bad knees and all) out after the rat, only to see it disappear under the refrigerator.

We regrouped. The kitchen also had a sliding glass door. We blocked the access back to the living room, and closed all the doors except the kitchen slider, which we opened wide. I carefully pulled out the refrigerator. I beat all around it with a broom. All of a sudden, the rat ran out and straight toward the open slider. Just as success was at hand, the rat spotted the dishwasher. Skidding on the tile floor (It was comical.), the rat made a u turn and ran under the dishwasher.

It was now about five fifteen. We had about forty five minutes before our visitor's arrival. But the computer room was a shambles; Everything (the "stuff") was spread through the computer room and living room, and we still had to get the rat out from under the dishwasher. I began to remove the dishwasher while Cheryl made sure that there was no way for the rat to get back into the living room. I removed all the screws holding the dishwasher in place, and began to pull it out. It wouldn't come. Then I remembered Dick and George and I had tiled the kitchen floor after we had installed the dishwasher. (It was Dick and George again. See "Second Phone") I worked at tipping the dishwasher, and lowered the legs while pulling. It wouldn't come. I beat on the wall next to the dishwasher with a hammer, hoping to scare the rat out. I put a broom under the dishwasher and shook it. Nothing! I finally managed to tip, pull and twist at the same time. The dishwasher started to emerge. All of a sudden the rat ran out. With Cheryl screaming, and swinging the broom, the rat ran toward the living room. I managed to give it a few boots back, as well, but it ran over the broom, shoe, and chute back into the living room. I managed to catch a glimpse of it running under the couch. The only good thing I can say at this point, is that we had shut the door into the computer room, and it couldn't get back to where it had started.

It was now about five thirty. We had about a half hour. Except that now the computer room was a shambles; Everything (the "stuff") was spread throughout the computer room and living room, the refrigerator was pulled out (I knew I would not be allowed to push it back without cleaning behind it first.). The dishwasher was pulled out, and we still had to get the rat out from under the couch.

We regrouped. We blocked all the access to the other rooms opened the living room slider, and shut the slider off the kitchen. (It was getting cold in the house.) We moved all the chairs to the opposite side of the room from the couch, and moved the coffee table over next to the dining room table. Carefully, I took the cushions off the couch, one by one. Then I tipped over the section on the left end. (This is a large sectional couch) Then I opened the hide-a-bed in the center. No sign of the rat. Then I tipped over the section on the other end. No rat. Finally, with everything in plain sight, I tipped over the remaining section while Cheryl watched underneath. No rat. Only one conclusion; The rat had made it around the couch and under the stereo/TV.

It was now getting close to six. We decided to leave the doggie door open and hope the rat would go out by herself. After all, we thought, she must have come in by the doggie door while we were up in the mountains the week after Christmas. There is a moral here; don't leave your doggie door unblocked while you and your dogs are away from home.

Now all we had to do, in the next few minutes, was reconstruct the computer room, put the refrigerator back, reinstall the dishwasher, reassemble the couch, put the furniture back where it belonged, and put away all the "chute" materials. (artificial Christmas trees, etc.)

Now, some good has to come out of everything; right? While I had the couch pulled out, I discovered that the wires behind the couch which lead to my outside speaker, next to the barbecue, had pulled apart. I fixed that, as well as everything else before our visitor showed up. (She was late.) Now I can have music while I barbecue. And the rat can listen too.

Let Barry know what you think of his "Little Stories."

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