I was hanging out at home the other afternoon when I noticed a distinctly rat-corpse-like form on my floor. When I first noticed it, I was chatting with a friend. I chose to table issue until he left. As soon as he did, my fear was realized: there was a dead rat with splayed guts on my floor.
I’m not particularly squeamish, but this freaked me out. Rats are dangerous. They carry disease. They’re fast.
I was also confused. While I’d had mice run through my place, a big rat, much less one with protruding and bloody innards, seemed anomalous. It must have gotten in via the two floors above me, which have many entry points. It’s guts must have burst open due to some disease, parasite or cannibalistic rat.
However it got there, I had to deal with it, which proved challenging as I could barely look at it, much less handle it.
I put on some full-fingered cycling gloves, got a large, stainless steel kitchen bowl, and neared the corpse. With eyes averted, I slapped the bowl on top of the rat and scurried away, pulse high, breathing short. At least I didn’t have to look at it anymore.
I worked up the courage to approach it again, getting a magazine and sliding it under the bowl to scoop the body up. Fortunately, it wasn’t sticking to the floor, nor did it seem to be moving. Part of my fear was that it was a zombie rat—half-alive, ravenous for human flesh.
It was now trapped between the bowl and the magazine, but I still had to deposit it in the garbage, which would require lifting the bowl and looking at it (I thought about doing the whole operation with eyes closed or blindfolded, but the prospect of missing the garbage and picking it up again was too much to deal with).
I also half-recognized that this might a great opportunity for growth. It didn’t matter how the rat got there, it was there, and like all of my fears, it could either be addressed or ignored; either disposed of or left to rot under a bowl. I wanted to be someone who went through life choosing the former route.
I took the trash bag near the bowl, breathed a few deep breaths, averted my eyes to view as little of the rat as possible, and lifted the bowl. Before depositing it, I quickly noticed some strange details out of the corner of my eye. First, the blood hadn’t smeared on the magazine. The guts were still red, so it should have been running. Next, there seemed like a distinct lack of detail to the rats entrails; it was more of a general mess than an exposed anatomy with intestines, kidneys and other organs.
The reason for these strange details was that the rat wasn’t real. It was rubber. A houseguest, my good friend Doug Campbell, had put it there as a joke that morning. After a chuckle and a mock-angry text to Doug, I started to breathe again. Continue reading “Don't Look at the Dead Rat in the Living Room”