Sunday, August 26, 2012

Battle Lines Drawn.


For the past couple of months I have been psychologically broken down by man most worthy adversary: The African Rat.  I classify it beyond normal vermin strictly to save what little pride I have left.  The two families that are currently a feature of Opolot’s humble abode cannot possibly be ordinary rats; little guys are too clever, too relentless, too rat-like.  Other rats probably video tape my inhabitants and stare in awe at their gall, performing such brazen acts as using my mosquito net as a trampoline, stealing food directly from my plate after leaving for no more than 35 minutes, leaving gaudy footprints on my keyboard when I return.

The animals so infiltrated my mind that, by last week, I had given up control of the house after nightfall.  I would lock myself under my net, tuck in on the sides, and put two pillows on my head.  Every morning I would wake up to see the wake of destruction; bread loaves with baseball size holes out of the side, cheese missing completely (how the HELL did they eat ¾ of a wheel of cheese in one night?), poop ostentatiously lying on my table and couch. 

Had I been alone, I don’t know how long these monstrous acts would have continued.  As it was, Buzi has had a snapping point and declared total war.  Inspired by his scare tactics (he’ll randomly bark at nights, hoping the noise will frighten the rats to give away their position---it works!) and complete focus (after 3-4km sprints to town with him following me on my bike, he’ll pick up his speed at the end of the run, sprinting into the house and kamikaze-ing directly into the cupboard which we hear him), I begin to slowly try and give assistance.  I will admit, though, that I was leaving the killing of the rats, and indeed nearly all of the scouting out, up to Buzi. 

My best move I decided was to streamline Buzi’s paths into well-known terrorist---sorry, rat---hide outs.  I moved paint cans around so that he has full access to behind the couch, moved my bed so he has more room to scout through my room.  Then, one day as I was moving things above my clothes cabinet, I hit my snapping point. 

In my broken mind, I felt me and the rat families had established an understanding.  They stay out of my way in the day, and if I leave anything out at night they would like, then my loss.  I realized their willingness to wake me with rat-like screams (of victory, or rage, or perhaps ecstasy…I can’t be sure) might be a sign that the agreement was beginning to be in need of a renegotiation.  When I reached about my clothes cabinet, however, and I brought down my MSR Single Hubba 3.5 season backpacking tent (I.E. my single most loved piece of outdoor equipment, behind only my Arc Teryx Bora 80) and found a (albeit tiny) rat nibbled hole…all agreements were off.  I tore down everything from the cabinet, immediately finding 4 newborn rats, still too young even to have opened their eyes.  Buzi immediately neutralized 3 with his trademark head grab and shake, breaking each of their spinal cords and tossing them off to the side.  I joined the effort with my rat bludgeon.  Let the games begin.

Buzi and I have taken back the night in the following weeks.  Two nights ago was a crippling blow, when buzi’s banshee-call sent one rat falling, into the open.  We chased him (his bark now gets me out of bed, on my feet with a stick in hand in less than 3 seconds from full sleep) behind the clothes cabinet.  Drawing up images of my tainted Single Hubba, I picked up the whole side and twisted it away from the wall, leaving Papa AND Mama rat exposed.  They split, each heading opposite directions away; Buzi and I silently picked off each of our prey.  I managed to stick Papa rat and hold him by his tail, all the while cheering on Buzi to “Get’m, GET’M” in my most sinister voice.  Mama got away.  Buzi, once he realized he’d been eluded, raced back to my position to finish the job on Papa.  Thinking he was already fazed, I let go of my stick---like a bullet, off the little guy goes, out of the room and into the hallway.  Buzi closes the space between them in one pounce and, with a growl, he clenches.  No more Papa rat.

Buzi and I still have a lot of work to do, but we feel the momentum is on our side. 

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