Friday, 23 April 2010

Death of a rat

There's a thing. I didn't know I had in in me. Hughie the Rat killer. Here's how it happened. Treasure of my Heart called me to the window and pointed over to where Renny the Manx used to investigate interesting scents in our garden.
'Look at the little rabbit,' she said.
'Nah,' says I, 'that ain't no rabbit, that's a little hedgehog.'

Well, as they say in all the worst anecdotes, no sooner were the words out of my mouth than the little hedgehog got up from crouch position and revealed itself to be a rat. A sick rat. Staggering around, drunken-like.

'Oh Lordy,' said Treasure of my Heart. 'It's been poisoned.'

I agreed whole heartedly since it was us who had poisoned it. How we jump to such conclusions. That this wretched creature, could be other than the same rat in the wall who woke us up with his or her gnawing skills in the early hours, never entered our minds.

'Mighty hunter,' cried Treasure of my Heart, 'Do something.'

The taste of the hunt in my mouth I did something. I fetched my trusty bow and arrows and slunk round the side of the house to confront the foule beest who was performing the rat version of the dying swan on the lawn. I notched the first arrow in the string and fired. Missed. By a whisker (not a cliché). I quickly - see me? When you're looking at me you're looking at Hiawatha) - strung the second arrow, took aim fired and missed again.

Ratty broke through the poison delirium and ran for the undergrowth. I prodded the gorse for a bit with no result. Ratty had, as they say in all the worst anecdotes, gone to ground.

Twenty minutes later Treasure of my Heart yelled that the groggy rodent had tumbled out of the gorse and back on to the lawn. Outside your intrepid bowman strode again. Missing once more on the first shot I determined to move closer to this vicious, though strangely handsome, creature and shoot point blank. This time I had the loathsome, yet strangely, alluring, cuddly-toy of a critter right where I wanted it. I shot downwards in what archery folks call the instinctive posture - which is to say not standing upright, side on and pulling the bow to its full extent before letting fly at a target in the middle of a field in Agincourt, but hunched over, awkward as all get up.

This time I did hit something. I hit the hard ground beside Roland. The arrow, having only a blunt field point, not a broadhead, bounced back knocking my specs off and catching me below my eye. It will turn black I am convinced.

I would like to report at this time that I gave up trying to kill my prey and took him to the Vet with instructions to heal and no expense spared - but no. You know this story has an ending given away in the title of this piece.

Requiescat In Pace, Ratso. You got to breathe a bit longer due to my incompetence - but there is nothing that could stop the progress of that poison and your death would have been excruciating. Besides if you had got back into the house you would have expired in the wall and begun to stink like one of your kin did last year. Two weeks later a procession of blowflies would be escaping from the crack in the ceiling and dropping drowsily on to us as we watch films on the PC.

The swift thump I gave you with the shovel was a better end than the farcical posturings of a Robin Hood with glasses.


Glenda said...

Hugh - we have a mouse plague with several of the beesties stinking in corners - yuk!!
How much do you hire yerself and your shovel out for??

Hugh Macmillan said...


I don't come cheap.

NZ$0.50 cents an hour too much?