True and funny stories

September, 2002

WILLARD, the rat

One of these pics was donated by a friend of mine, who having heard the WILLARD story, decided to send me a picture to brighten my spirits during my moments of fear.... she has a perverted sense of humor! LOL (Peggy, I won't mention your name!)

Last week, on Monday, I discovered the telltale markings of a mouse in the house... well, not really a mouse..... the droppings would indicate a VERY large rat! (ick!!)
So, a friend set a rat trap for me when we discovered where it was living (behind the stove in the kitchen where a large hole was left in the wall by whomever installed the stove.)
Came home Tuesday night.... nothing.... trap was still set.
Woke up Wednesday morning and stumbled out to the kitchen to make coffee and discovered that the trap had been tripped, it was flipped over, with no rat inside it... sigh. Started looking around the kitchen and then the living room for the beast and saw a small pool of blood in the living room beside the video tape cabinet.... aha!! It was at least injured and hopefully dying over there... I thought. I could hear something wheezing behind the video cabinet too.
Being the brave soul I am, I called my friend at work and told him of the trap, the blood, the wheezing .... he said he'd be right over to help get the rat. I had decided that if whatever was injured by the trap was big enough to get out of the jaws of death.... was much bigger than anything I cared to deal with alone!! *shudder*
So my pal arrives and I show him where the blood is... he starts moving the video cabinet and something moves.... the tail is now exposed under the front of the cabinet.... and its BIG! *double shudder*
Moments later as I am standing in wait.... armed with the shovel we had intended to scoop the dying remains up with.... I caught my first glimpse of my foe..... it was HUGE and it was mobile!! I felt the hair on the back of my neck stand on end! My friend and I sorta looked at each other with blank stares for a second when we realized that the rat was not, seemingly, too badly injured and appeared to be moving quite well.... this was not expected!! ha So, moving the cabinet one more time to try to get the rat to run into a bucket (yeah right.. this is not a stupid rat)... the rat decided it was time for him to head back to his condo in my wall.... sigh.
That rat took off in a gallup southbound along the wall, turned east on a dead run along the love seat and round the corner of the loveseat.... I was standing to the north of him (quite a ways to the north I might add).... I saw him... he saw me.... he leapt into the air about 18 inches high or so.... turned sorta 1/2 sideways with his rat arms extended and hissed at me.... he hit the ground running.... slid about a foot as he was rounding the small freezer heading to the rat condo!! Oh My GOD!!! I have never had a rat hiss at me in mid air before.... I didn't like it!!! I didn't like it at all... it scared me in fact and I screamed like a girl and ran behind my friend!!!
My friend turns and looks at me with wide eyes and says "that rat hissed at you"... "no s**t!!" I said back with my eyes as wide as his, my heart beating like crazy. So, having lost the rat back to his wall condo... my friend reset the trap and left me there... alone.... with my rat.... *shudder*
That rat was huge... like a sewer rat.... and had a bad attitude.... I really didn't want to go through this again!! So, I called Vector Control... who said they would come out and look at the hole and tell me how they thought it probably got in.. but, no, they don't actually go hunting for rats. (I didn't care at this point how the d*mn thing got in... just wanted it out!!) So, I called an exterminator feeling certain that they would rescue me from the rat and remove his rat body from my house.... wrong again! They set bait out that causes them to dehydrate and die... of course this can take days... sigh. In the mean time, Dad had showed up to help me out with a chore or two so we went outside to deal with those chores. Then, Dad left and once again... its just me and the rat (I named him Willard... remember the movie?)
Later that night, my pal and his roommate come over to perform "rat patrol" duties and hopefully get the creature out... and kill it. Well, nothing happened of course and Willard didn't make an appearance. I stayed at their house a few blocks away that night. My friend drove me home in the morning on his way to work and we searched the house to see if Willard was out and about... I could hear him in the wall so I knew he was still here, still alive, and gnawing away on the studs in the wall. So I got cleaned up and took off to go horseback riding. (Going riding was a wonderful thing and took my mind off of Willard for short bursts of time.) After stopping numerous places to buy a "live trap" thinking that might work better than the regular rat traps, I came home empty-handed. Timidly opened the door making as much noise as possible to annouce my arrival (in case Willard was out and about).
Checked the traps... still set... listened at the wall... nothing.... hoped it had died.
My friend had found a live trap for that size beast and brought it over Thursday night... set it up... set the regular traps, just in case... and he left. I stayed at my house feeling certain that if, when, Willard came out for food... the trap would get him. The dehydrating cube was in the live trap with a few kernals of cat food also.
Got up in the morning after a restless night of almost sleep.... checked the traps... nothing... got the flashlight and took a better look.... the Willard had eaten the food off of the plate that was supposed to trip when he ate from it... moved the dehydrating cube off the same plate... but didn't appear to have come out. I left for work.
When I came home, same thing.... no traps had tripped, but I could hear what I thought was "nibbling" coming from that area... couldn't see anything though. My friend was going to come over again that night so I decided I best go to the grocery store and get some provisions... which I did. When I came back... the live cage was still set but the regular rat trap that was at the end of it had tripped and was, once again, flipped over.... sigh.... I got instant goosebumps all over.
Willard was out somewhere.... called my friend and gave him a rat update.... he said he would come over as soon as he got off work... I said I would be out in the back yard doing a few things when he got there. Did a few things in the yard getting ready for fall and winter weather... was going to step into the house for a minute and as I started to open the door.... Willard came out from the area of the rat condo and scurried behind the freezer.... I stood and waited to see where it was going to go. Called again and gave a rat update to my friend..... watching the area where the d*mn rat was. My friend arrives and we make a plan of attack.....I got my 9mm, he had a bat.... Willard wasn't there... he had moved and I didn't see him do it. So, the hunt was on... we finally gave up.... had not a clue where he was.
So, sat at the dining room table and ate some chicken... discussed what to do next... expressed our equal amazement that something that big could have gotten through the live trap without tripping it... etc.
Examined the dehydrating cube... it had some slight nibbles on it... that was a good sign!!
Now, Willard has become very inconvenient for me because the stove is not useable whilst it is sitting in the middle of my kitchen also blocking 1/2 of my kitchen cabinets... I want that rat gone!! I haven't slept much at all because of the rat and I'm getting tired.... I want that rat gone!!
I hear a clicking noise... sorta like a "nibbling" noise... but not exactly.... I tell my friend about it, he listens and goes over closer to the sound.... which is by the sink area in the kitchen.
He appears to look in the sink, from a few feet away, backs up, and is reaching for my 9mm!! "don't shoot my sink!" I wailed. "It's not in the sink" he says, "take a look over there."
So I looked in the direction he pointed... there was Willard... panting heavily behind the stove and in front of the cabinets next to the sink area. But Willard isn't running, hissing or doing anything more than breathing heavy and clicking.... hmmmm.... guess that dehydrating stuff has started to take effect.
Again, my friend reaches for my 9mm... "no, don't shoot it over there," I yelled. "Thats the area where the natural gas line is and I don't want to explode!" I further explained.
So we sat, we watched, shined the flashlight under the stove and could see Willard, his little rat face on the floor... face down.... trying to breathe... death should be near I thought happily. NOT!
I actually thought I would enjoy seeing Willard suffer a slow painful death... but, I didn't really like this form of entertainment and wanted to put him out of his misery. Yes, ok, I felt sorry for the creature watching it slowly die. sigh
Decided after about a half hour that death was taking to long and called a friend that has a .22. He was coming right over.
My other friend decided to take a potty break from rat watching and left me alone with Willard. Willard turned around, stuck his little rat face out from behind the stove... looked right at me and took off.... "He's on the move" I yelled loud enough for the next county to hear... "get back out here!!" Well, he didn't move too far actually, he had jumped up onto the back of the stove and was sitting on the natural gas regulator! Smart rat, isn't he... can't shoot him on that!!
So anyhow, backup arrives with .22 in hand... so we discussed our next moves. Friend #1, while friend #2 is watching, gently uses his bat to move one of the rat traps over to where Willard is. BINGO! Willard moves and the trap grabs his tail about mid way.... Willard screams, friend #1 jumps, friend #2 is giving advice. Willard is trying to escape the trap... still screaming... but the trap got him good and he's not able to get out of it and the trap is so big that it is holding the rat back because the trap won't go under the stove where he is trying to escape.
Friend #1 moves the other large rat trap over by Willard.... GOTCHA! Again, it grabs Willard's tail... he's really screaming now!! (For something that appeared to be at death's door, he got real vocal and full of energy real fast!) Willard is decides to try to get to his condo instead of going under the stove... the condo has been blocked off however and when Willard scooted under the natural gas pipe... guess what... the traps couldn't go under it... so he was having a heck of a time.... still screaming I might add.
Finally Willard was exhausting himself and had moved to a position where a shot would be safe.... so, friend #1 moves out, friend #2 moves in, *pop*, Willard isn't moving anymore... friend #2 moves back proudly to expose the kill, friend #1 moves in with rubber gloves to remove Willard from the pool of rat blood that he's lying in.... reaches down... and Willard starts flopping around!! Friend #1 jumps about 2 feet in the air. We all laughed heartily... it was just left over nerve reaction. Willard is then uncermoniously double plastic bagged and put in the garbage outside.
Bleach is dumped all over the area where the killing took place. We celebrated.. I had two martinis, the guys had beers, I cleaned up the immediate mess that was made and the guys went back to their house.
I slept like a rock... first time in a week. I still get the creeps thinking there might be another Willard around, but there isn't... at least not in the house.
The cat door to the back yard has been removed (that's most likely where he came in at), cat food is no longer a 24 hr diner, I will probably put the water back out now (Willard didn't have to go far from his condo because the cat food and water were right there in the kitchen for him to feed from), bird feeders have been removed, I cut a piece of plywood (with various notches having to been made) to fit the one cupboard that a rat/mouse could get into from behind the stove, and have been disinfecting everything that Willard could have or might have come into contact with.
Norwegian sewer rats, that is what Willard was, are among the largest problem in the Metro area right now. Guess they like the suburbs!. He measured about 9 inches long not counting the tail... I hope he is the last to get in my house. Oh... the condo was cleaned out and boarded up too!

For those of you not in the "know" a long necked bottle of beer is 9" long.. I didn't have a ruler at the time so we used a empty beer bottle to show how long that d*mn rat was. Of course, his limp body scrunched up and slid alittle but, you can see how huge he was!!

Bottom line.... if you decide to feed the chipmunks, squirrels, birds and other wildlife.... you too could end up with a WILLARD!!!!!!!

A Walk in the Park

Before you start reading this story, you must visualize that this took place in the early spring of 1989. I was a 30 yr old, very naive, 5'4", 100 lb, shy, young lady.... who had never ever been away from home... all ALONE... no family or friends close by... no cell phone, no weapons, and no one knows where I am.... Got it? Ok... read on:

When I was a "Plain Old Deputy Candidate" (PODC as we were called at the academy) and had embarked on my newly chosen career by being sent to Glynco GA (the Federal Academy), for training, which is located somewhere very close to HELL. I found myself with nothing to do on this one weekend. A friend who had flown home for the weekend was nice enough to let me use his car, so at least I had wheels!

Well, I decided to do a day trip on that Saturday to check out the local scenery etc.... anything to get off that academy "prison"! (I didn't much like it there!) I found myself on the highway driving toward Savannah. Savannah is a very pretty and historic little city. I was rather impressed with its architecture and beautiful parks as I drove by it. The sun was shining brightly and the skies were a clear blue. (Something I didn't see too often during my time in hell).

At any rate, I had bypassed Savannah and ventured to some little town (can't recall the name) north of Savannah. I saw a sign on the highway indicating there was a wildlife preserve or park and I decided to go look at it on this beautiful day. Sun, warmth, nature, no stress.... seemed like the perfect thing to do!

So, I turned into this little piece of heaven and stopped at the first antique store I came to. I looked it all over and wandered down the street. I stopped at the local diner-thing and walked in to get a sandwich. It looked like a real friendly place and I could hear chatter from the street. The chatter all stopped when I opened the door and walked in.... (ever feel like you've walked into the "twilight zone")? Everyone turned and stared at me... now, normally, I would have taken the sudden attention as a testament to my beauty (gag).... but, this made the hair stand up on the back of my neck! I ordered my sandwich (to go) and left as fast as I could trying not to appear bothered at all with the situation. As soon as I got my sandwich and closed the door behind me... conversation picked up where it left off... too weird!

I sat in the car and ate my sandwich!

Having fed myself, I ventured over to the "wildlife preserve", parked the car, and paid my $3 to enter. The park people were very friendly and warned me not to try to get friendly with (or feed) any baby gators I might see... or any baby anything for that matter... and to have a wonderful time on my walk through their park. So with the sun still shining warm and bright, I took off to find a trail to follow. (Oh, I was assured that all the trails circled around and would take you back to the entrance, so it didn't matter which path I followed).

*** Okay, you still have me pictured as I first stated .... right?

The park was just beautiful and had a variety of trails to follow. Birds were singing in the trees, squirrels and chipmunks chattered from their hiding places, the sun was warm, the air was clean..... yep, all was right with the world at that moment!

I happily jaunted over to a trail that appeared to lead towards a marshy area.... not a care in the world and the stress of the academy was a million miles away! Life was good!

I walked down the trail and it did, indeed, lead to a marshy area.... in fact, the marsh was lapping at the edges of the trail... but, what the heck... I went down that trail anyhow! How far could it be to the other side anyway?? Besides, I was enjoying this new adventure!

As I walked, well, actually I strolled, down the trail, puffing jubilantly on a cigarette, I noticed that the trail was becoming engulfed by cattails and whatever that other stuff is that grows in marshes.... soon, I could see nothing except the greenery of the marsh! Hell, it was taller than I was and the trail was getting pretty watery.

Now, good sense would have told me to turn around and take a different trail.... but, I was a PODC... fearless (well not really fearless!).. And I was going to take THIS trail!!

So, I did

I think I was about way down the trail... no longer strolling.... but walking. I heard a rustle... it made me nervous and I kept walking. I could hear no voices.... no cars... no birds... no chipmunks or squirrels... no nothing... except a rustle in the cattails every time I moved... there was no wind either!! Every time I moved... the rustle came... when I stopped... it stopped. Ok, NOW I was getting nervous. But, I told myself.... "I'm a PODC and not afraid of anything" over and over and over! And, I kept walking.

I lit another cigarette and noted that the trail was very wet... well, there was water across it and I could see nothing to either side of me except the cattails and other marsh foliage. I couldn't see the trail ahead and suddenly felt oh so ALONE and oh so SMALL and oh so much wanted to be back home in Oregon! I continued to hear the rustle for a bit and consoled myself by telling myself it was just a breeze floating through the foliage making it move.... yeah, that's it... a breeze floating through. I lit another cigarette and kept moving!

(Incidentally, I had no trouble lighting the match and keeping it going to light the cigarette... no breeze... sigh.)

I moved forward, my feet were wet - up to my ankles. I thought about nice things... like water snakes... and wondered if they were here and if they were poisonous... sigh. I entertained the thought of gators... but quickly discarded that thought. I noted when I moved that there was no rustling... I stopped. Oddly, in my fear of the rustling.... I felt more nervous and alone without it... I was, indeed, ALL ALONE, in a very strange place... and no one knows where I am! (Including me! Ha) I distinctly remember wishing that the noise would return and keep me company. (Pretty odd, eh?)

Still I couldn't see anything in front or to the sides of my trail... I decided to look back and make a logical determination of whether I should continue forward or go back.....

You know how people always are saying "you should never look back..." well... its true, you shouldn't!

To my utter amazement... the source of the rustling was sitting about 15 ft behind me on the trail, up to its' little GATOR CHIN in water! It was kinda cute for a gator... never actually seen one in person before now. It just stayed there... looking at me. I just stared at it... not really knowing what to do in this particular situation. Seemed like we stared for an hour or so.. until my cigarette burned my fingers and brought me back to reality!

The sudden burn jolted me back to the realization that if there was a baby gator... there was a Momma gator close by.... ahhh... the REAL source of the rustling, I figured. I also figured this was probably not a GOOD thing as I felt my knees weaken... I thought for sure I might pass out!

My keen intellect told me that there was only one way to proceed... the direction I was headed... away from the baby! I quickly walked through the water on the trail. The baby gator followed, staying about the same distance behind me... yes, I looked back frequently... the rustling resumed... but, it didn't seem to comfort me as I had thought it might have earlier... NOW, I KNEW I wasn't ALONE!!! *shudder*

Its amazing what the rise of fear in your heart can bring you to do or think.

I actually thought that there must be a camera set up somewhere and that the park people were having a good laugh over this NW girls' encounter with a baby gator! Yes, I truly thought that for a moment! It pissed me off! So, I was going to stay cool no matter what and not let them get a laugh on me - is that psychotic or what? Ha

As I walked, quickly, down the trail, I finally could see a break in the trail ahead.... I was so thankful!!!!!!!!! The rustling and the little gator moved with me.. The rustling seemed to be getting louder or closer... I glanced back... the baby gator was closing in... (that little sucker could move!!)

Finally, I was nearing the end of the "water trail" and back to a dry trail with water on the sides. I could see trees.. hear the birds singing... the chatter of the chipmunks and squirrels... I was starting to get my blood pressure back to normal... I moved quickly (well, it was more like a jog, but I looked real cool and calm I know!) towards freedom and safety.... except, so did the baby gator... and the rustling.... sigh

The trail took an upward turn and I cruised through it like a trooper! I noted that the rustling stopped.... I wondered if I should look back.... (yeah, you guessed it!).... curiosity got the best of me... I stopped... lit a cigarette... and turned....

There was the baby gator, about 10 feet behind me... sitting there... just waiting. My eyes looked down the trail behind the baby.... and there I saw... a few feet from the baby... the Momma gator.. Could have been a Daddy gator... I don't know anything about gators.... But I did know that the parent gator probably outweighed me by 50%!!!!! It was just sitting there... waiting behind the baby....

Now, I know when a bear is coming at you... you're supposed to play dead... so it won't hurt you too much.... bears I understand! I don't know anything about gators.

I sensed the scent of fear.... it was coming from ME!... I stood there frozen to the spot at which I turned.... if I hadn't been so scared, I would have wet myself... not a doubt in my mind... I don't even think I was breathing!

We stared at each other forever... the cigarette burned... it burned my fingers... I jumped and dropped it... it scared the baby... the baby moved... the mother moved... cool and calm was the farthest thing from my mind as it had been swept away by fear!

I think I backed up... I'm not sure. The baby stopped.... the mother didn't! I think I kept backing up real slow trying to put some distance between us and not startle either of them.

The mother slowly passed by the baby.... "this can't be a good thing", I thought.

Next thing I remember.... the mother opened her huge jaws and made some sort of noise.... she started moving very rapidly towards me....... I have never been so damned scared in my life!!!!!!

I turned... I ran... I have never run so fast in my life! I should have been in the Olympics at that point! I don't really remember turning and running... I just remember when I came back to my senses, I was running like a fire was under my behind!!! To hell with that "I'm a fearless PODC crap!! I was going to get eaten by a gator if I didn't get my little butt moving!

I did NOT look back!!! I ran as fast as my little feet would carry me!!

I'm not sure how, but, the trail I ran on did indeed go back to the entrance. I could see the Park shack bouncing in the distance... actually, I was the one bouncing.. not the shack! It seemed a million miles away!

Just short of the shack, I slowed and then stopped running... finally... I looked behind me... there was no sight of a protective Momma gator and no little baby gator following me.... I calmed down... sorta.... walking, trying to stroll as if nothing happened.... regaining composure... ( I think!)... I felt weak.... my knees were threatening to give way... my head felt light and the world was starting to spin........ I decided I hated Georgia!

I looked around briefly and noted the moss hanging from the trees.... how ugly can it be? One knotted mass of moss looked like a gator with its mouth open.... the squirrels and chipmunks were laughing at me... the birds were making fun of me.... yep, fear psychosis had definitely set in!! I shook my head and shook away those silly thoughts.... I smoked a cigarette.

I walked up to the shack... I relayed, as calmly as possible, what I had just encountered in the park to the Park person. SHE turned white as a ghost!!!! There goes my knees getting weak again... her reaction made me realize that my fears had been very properly placed. She hollered for a couple of the guys to come over.... I told them and pointed it out to them where I had begun my stroll of terror.

The blood drained from their faces.... oh shit.... there goes my knees again... sigh

They reprimanded ME for walking that particular trail and ignoring the sign that said the trail was closed!

Now I'm really pissed.... I've just been on this awful adventure.... been scared out of my wits... stalked by a gator.... nearly eaten alive...ran 100 miles at a dead run....and they have the NERVE to reprimand ME!!!

Remember the shy girl I told you about at the beginning of this story? Well, let me tell you that the words that flowed from my mouth were anything but shy and well, rather graphic... when I heartily suggested they go look for their sign... (I will spare you the details of that part of the conversation). I explained that there was no signs up or I would not have gone there. They suggested that they go with me to the exact place I started my journey.

Personally, I just wanted to take my wet feet and get back to the academy... or home! I wasn't feeling all that good and certainly not wanting to go back to the scene of the "crime"... I insisted, rather indignantly, that they go and investigate by themselves. (Just the thought of going back there was making my knees shaky!) They finally went alone.

Shortly after they left, they called back on the radio to the shack. The sign was found in the cattails... not blocking the trail at all... not visible from the trail at all... but, yes, it was posted. Yep, the knees were quivering again.. The world was starting to spin again... but, by God, I was a PODC and there was no way, after all this, that I was going to pass out NOW!!

The lady gave me back my money... the guys walked me back to my car... apologizing profusely.. offered to buy me dinner and drinks.... (Does anyone in Georgia have all their front teeth? Is it a genetic thing?).... I took the money, thanked them for finding and reposting the sign (and blocking off the trail).... accepted the escort to my car... unlocked it... hopped in... locked the doors... cracked the window... bid them farewell... fired that mother up and burnt rubber getting out of the parking lot and back to the freeway southbound!!

I stopped in Savannah... It's a beautiful city... I went to the first bar I saw... a shot of whiskey seemed like a great idea for my rattled nerves....

It was a neat old building... a friendly sounding bar... I could hear the conversation from the street.... I opened the door.... the talking stopped.... they turned and stared..... Oh Dear God................

I turned around, ran to the car, fired it up again, peeled out of town and didn't stop until I got back to the Academy and the comfort of my cockroach infested room in the "townhouses"!!

It was all very terrifying and confusing at the time... but in retrospect and seeing the events as they unfold in my mind to write this story... it was really pretty funny! Don't ya think?

Hope you enjoyed my Walk in the Park!

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