My friend Marlowe just relocated to the Pacific Northwest.
By Darryl Levings
The Kansas City Star
I chauffeured her. We left work about 4 p.m. on a Wednesday and arrived just in time for Tacomas Friday afternoon commuter-choke. I successfully timed the trip between blizzards, although Thursdays cross winds on Interstate 80 were ferocious. Wyoming tumbleweeds lined up to pummel us. And dust; we plowed through a paralyzing, several-second, total black-out. Some fog, too, along the Snake.
Still, we made good time, but then Marlowe is always a little anxious, wants to scoot along.
Call it a rats Manifest Destiny.
Oh, yeah, my daughter Marlowes absentee ratlord and her girlfriend also came along, so Marlowe and I had plenty of company to keep us awake. They used their iPhone prowess to keep me supplied with oldies Me and Bobby McGee, Sounds of Silence, City of New Orleans with which I could bellow along, tunelessly, flat, sooooooo baaad.
The car was left in Tacoma for Kerry, the college junior. Perhaps Marlowe will want to be driven to the Pike Street Market.
Marlowe was once the loser in a rat fight, came out needing an eye patch. So there was some concern about how shed get along with Kato, another lone rat already in Tacoma. Last reports were that they immediately cuddled and groomed each other, so thats comforting. Like those two old circus elephants reunited after 20 years that you can see on YouTube.
Kerrys mom and I are finally sans vermine. (Did you know the French word for a male rat is rat? So dont believe Steve Martin when he says: Its like those French have a different word for everything!)
It has been a decade since the first, Benny, got too big to be the entree for a science-room snake, and Kerry volunteered to take him home. Swept around the Good Wifes No Rodents rule like the Wehrmacht around the Maginot Line. Showed her to be a paper tiger mom, in fact.
As Ive mentioned here before, just like in British dramas, there are Upstairs Rats and Downstairs Rats. By upstairs, I mean the fancy hooded ladies pampered in Kerrys room, and by downstairs, I mean the basement, where Im hoping no brutish Norways are self-stowed at the moment.
Now that no lonely rat, somehow out of its cage, will wander downstairs for a treat anymore, I worry that the Good Wife will become complacent and lose a step in her agility. (Tarantulas make interesting pets, dont you think? A common rose-hair costs only 20 bucks, and the females can live for 20 years!)
Another fresh rat story comes from the older, L.A., daughter. It was Leslie who introduced Kerry to rats in the first place. In recent years, Leslie has moved up the food chain to rescue cats, three behemoths that push one another around to find a place to lie down in her tiny apartment.
She once worked at Bunnyluv, a Van Nuys rabbit rescue shelter, and a friend there called her about an elderly rat dropped off with them. Since Leslie had been a rat-whisperer, might the geezer live out his last days with her? The cat vote was split: Pagan and Odin were adamantly no, but Inky, the village idiot, is always looking a friend.
My daughter has a soft heart for strays, so Badger, as he was dubbed, arrived. Leslie quickly realized that he wasnt that ancient and had all his parts. Indeed, he was quite feisty and, as she began to understand, seriously traumatized. Perhaps a classroom pet that got squeezed too many times; hed scream when she tried to pick him up.
Badger also was flick-knife quick with those incisors. Nevertheless, nursing nipped fingers, Leslie believed he was slowly socializing.
She was on the floor with the cage open offering a snack when she got distracted. When she turned around, the rat was ambling toward the back of the couch. Leslie knew not to grab him, but she blocked his route while again offering the food.
The rat crawled over the back of her right hand, popped the treat into his cheek and then slashed the web of Leslies hand.
Put that knife in ya, take a little bit of life from ya, as that rap song goes whatchu think Im gon be, what? Rehabilitated, man I still feel hatred.
Clean as a scalpel cut. About two inches long. Anatomy was exposed. Some excitement ensued.
The old hand at rats got cleaned and taped at the E.R. The perp was promptly deported back to the orphanage where theres always tomorrow. As Leslie creates small sculptures for a living, this episode had economic consequences, but Im pleased to report that the Beastlies are back in production.
Pagan and Odin, of course, had understood all along the thing would end in bloodshed. It was no country for old rats.
Id like to write about Leslies cats more some time, but as we know theres another columnist here no names; lets just call him C.W.G. who has made a good living from the serial biographies of felines. Not only his, but his daughters that are sometimes entrusted to him.
The cats living with my daughter could be worth a touching story or two their dental bills alone can make a man weep and, technically, theyre not on anyones KC turf. The Hollywood sign is visible from their balcony litter boxes. A new study came out recently: Cats see us as just bigger cats with handy opposable thumbs to open the tuna cans. See, I could work with that.
But Im not sure where the lines are, and Im cautious about tracking into another fellows posted territory. Columnists are sensitive creatures.
And, as I understand it, C.W.G. has shotguns.