Kilrat Was Here


Giant inflatable rat photographed in the course of my past political work, but I thought it made a good illo.

This is sort of a delicate subject, or at least one that I hope you aren’t reading it while savoring your morning croissant or margarita but I have to wonder: what is it with people who do not flush when they use public conveniences?

I can only speak for women’s restrooms, of course, there having been only a half dozen times in my life when potty parity broke down utterly and men’s rooms were thrown open to the strained bladders of a suffering beskirted populace at some alternative theater or school program. The usual culprits have been members of my local swimming pool or my gym, people who otherwise don’t appear to have been born in a barn, so why do I have to go down a row of porcelain receptacles, kicking open stall doors and nudging foot levers, before the place isn’t gross? Come on, people, do you do that at home?

The worst thing that ever appeared unexpectedly in my home commode was a rat. We had a very dry summer, the kind where you hear that the rocks are coming more and more into view along the local streambed, one which coincidentally is near the county’s sewage processing plant and all its converging pipelines. This probably played a part in the situation. I was quietly at my computer when I heard a tinkling of water behind me in the loo. Thinking my elderly Maine Coon was letting loose on the bath mat, a loveable habit of his, barely a quarter hour before the next client was due, I snapped around but he was nowhere in sight. It was unearthly. Was the toilet tank springing a leak? I flipped on the light, looked under the tank, nothing, trickle, lap, there in the bowl was a greyish brown, faintly camo-patterned midsize rat performing an energetic Busby Berkeley routine.

I dropped the lid and flushed, feeling heartless but reasoning he could make it out the same way he came. Nothing happened except that he began to do the backstroke.

I put a basket of laundry on the bowl lid and called Animal Control. They had a number you push for “wild animal in the residence” which was the closest I could come, and I got a young man insisting to me that the rat had to come from inside the house, they don’t come up through plumbing. (Had he never read Dave Barry?) “Check your pantry for droppings and nests,” he admonished me. I told him that the only way that rat could have gotten from the pantry to the crapper was to pass three cats the size of Shetland ponies, all of whom were currently set on low idle, and I was having none of it and I wanted this rat removed.

He said he’d send someone. I let in my client, offering her the upstairs bathroom and explaining. She had lived in tumbledown urban parts of Eastern Europe during her time with the Peace Corps and was unperturbed.

Presently a knock announced the arrival of a dapper gentleman whose cafe-au-lait complexion matched his knife-creased desert khakis. He carried a Havahart trap. “I’ve heard of these,” he said.

“Your boss hasn’t,” I informed him.

He went in the bathroom and shut the door. I could hear him cooing “C’mere, little guy, c’mere…”

In short order he emerged, holding the trap on high. The rat, a lean specimen with long, ruinous-looking yellow front teeth, was ricocheting back and forth inside it, banging his tin cup on the wire mesh and yelling for his lawyer in a profane burst of shrill Rattish. I kind of respected the rat and hated to think of his fate; he had been like the hero of Shawshank Redemption and damn lucky to escape my senior cat, an unconquered veteran of outdoor life whose gullet was doubtless the last sight of hundreds of rodents.

The polite young gentleman withdrew and I finished my client’s session. Later I called my Albino Ex, who was not my ex yet and loves a good story about local civil engineering and county employees. He wanted to know why I hadn’t applied to him for help. As an ex cop I guess he thinks this way.

“What were you going to do, come over here and discharge a .45 Magnum load into my commode?” I asked. It’s one of those lines you regret the moment you utter it.

But you can see why I might be even more sensitive than most to commode etiquette. I don’t want to see anything but clear water when I look down.

Flush the goddam thing, already.

3 thoughts on “Kilrat Was Here

  1. To avoid the unpleasantness of forgetting to flush, most toilet goers at Knox Village Cinemas simply piss on the floor.

    I wouldn’t mind so much, but when they stand up and start to piss, they block my view of the screen.

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