Words by Aron Simkins Art by Aaron Rowell
FIVE TIMES THE RODENT INFESTATION I THOUGHT I HAD IN MY BACKYARD TURNED OUT TO BE A REALLY OLD MAN LOOKING FOR HIS DEAD WIFE’S CAR KEYS.
Here’s the thing. I hate rats. I couldn’t even sit through “Ratatouille” or “Rat Race” without horking a little in my mouth. So, when I started hearing all kinds of rustling noises emanating from my back patio, I knew right away I had an infestation on my hands. Boy was I surprised when my assumed rodent problem turned out to be a disoriented old man searching for his dead wife’s car keys. Here are five times I made this unsettling mistake.
THE TIME HE TOLD ME TO MIND MY P’S AND Q’S
The first time I heard the tell-tale sounds of rodents scratching around my backyard, I raced out with broom in hand to defend my house. However, I was surprised to find a wrinkly, old geezer rooting around in my hydrangeas. When I finally mustered the nerve to ask him what he was doing, he seemed pretty put out and started grumbling something about how Ethel misplaced the keys to the Oldsmobile again. When I asked who Ethel was, he gruffly told me to mind my Ps and Qs. Whatever that means. Eventually he wandered off, but the hydrangeas are a mess now.
THE TIME HE BROUGHT AN ARM CHAIR WITH HIM
To be honest, I thought my first encounter was random enough it would never happen again. So, when the disturbing noises of an unwelcome creature digging around my backyard woke me early one morning, I instinctively assumed rats. You can imagine my horrified reaction upon discovering the same old fart had returned and was rifling through the cushions of a massive arm chair, looking for his dead wife Ethel’s car keys again. What was even more disconcerting was the fact that he must’ve dragged that arm chair with him, because it wasn’t mine. Plus, he plopped it right in the hydrangeas. After a fruitless 20-minute search, he gave up and fell asleep in the arm chair before finally ambling off. Now I have a ratty old arm chair to deal with.
THE TIME HE TOLD ME TO STAY OFF MY OWN LAWN
I was finally able to dispose of the armchair and was convinced my rodent and geriatric infestation problems were far behind me. Then, one peaceful afternoon after returning home from work, no sooner had I stepped through the front door than I heard the classic sounds of critters busy at work on my back patio. However, I was appalled to find the same old duffer, attempting to hang a hummingbird feeder from my pergola. Even worse, he had thrown all my decorative cairn stones into the Hydrangeas in search of his very dead wife Ethel’s car keys. And if that wasn’t enough, he immediately ordered me to stay off my own lawn.
THE TIME HE ACCUSED ME OF HIDING DEAD ETHEL’S CAR KEYS
By this point, I’d become quite unsettled by these events and found myself routinely walking my yard to make sure it was old-timer free. On one such inspection, I noticed freshly turned dirt. Obviously, I was irritated, but also oddly satisfied at the sign of a regular infestation rather than the kind I had been experiencing. I quickly ran to the garage for a shovel. When I returned to the backyard, I was shocked to find the old codger busy digging up the hydrangeas. When I asked him to stop, he told me to take my ripped jeans and rap music back inside—unless I was the one who hid his dead Ethel’s car keys in the first place. In which case, I’d better hand them over quick or I’d be cruising for a hunk of hickory to the head. Whatever that meant. This was getting ridiculous.
THE TIME HE AND HIS RETIREMENT BUDDIES ATE ALL MY CHIPS
I admit, the shock wire I set up around my backyard may have been a little extreme, but it seemed like a completely rational move to keep that crinkly, old gerry out of my hydrangeas. Plus, I was sleeping peacefully again. Until one night when I was startled awake by the sounds of chewing and gnawing coming from my kitchen. This was the rodent infestation I had long anticipated. I grabbed an airhorn and fireplace poker and quietly made my way to the kitchen for a surprise attack. To my utter disbelief, there sat the mouth-breathing old coot and several of his rest home chums loudly munching on my potato chips and saltine crackers. Also, one of them may have gone into cardiac arrest at the sound of my airhorn. I wish I had rats.