… on every man for himself

Tony Soprano is no Rat

That is not a rat.

It’s Tony Soprano, a made man on Southport Island.

Tony is, in fact, a mink. An American one. I know, I know, based on his name and inferred occupation you thought he was Italian. Common mistake.

And also racist.

But this is not about Tony Soprano not being a rat.

This is about an actual rat.

One I never got a photo of for reasons that will become clear to you as I tell you a story. One of mystery, and intrigue. Terror, and betrayal. And screaming.

Lots and lots of screaming.



As I’ve mentioned here, last week I was down in New Orleans, delivering Number One Son Sam’s new car to him – the one that replaced his old car… that sadly looked like this:

Un re-touched photograph of Sam’s old car (not a stitch of makeup).

So I drove for forty days and forty nights – or three days and two nights depending on your perspective – and got to New Orleans and went to Sam’s apartment where I was greeted by Sam himself and his love, Real Life Princess Avery.

They skipped out of the apartment and then we all skipped back in (some of us skipped more like walking) and I saw Sam’s new apartment for the very first time and it was lovely.

Like, for a vampire.

Mostly because Sam is maybe part vampire, which is probably why the whole Twilight series seemed so familiar to me when I read it.

The reason we say that Sam is part vampire is that he prefers his living quarters very dark.

No. Very dark. His sleeping quarters even darker.

Like, when we go to Disney World and one or more of us rooms with him, before we go to bed, Sam draws the blinds and/or curtains (he prefers as many layers as possible). Then he makes sure we will not see daylight through any of the crevices, often employing various pieces of furniture, and sometimes lamps, to squash the sides of the curtains up against the wall.

He then invokes a ‘you can’t leave the bathroom light on’ rule.

One time he was all settled in bed in a pitch black room, and got out of bed, took the television schedule card thingie, and put it in front of the red dot on the tv… because it was distracting him.

So. Part vampire.

And now Sam has his own apartment, and no roommate to compromise with.

You getting the picture?

Sam does not have curtains, but he does have blinds.

And, when I walked in, every. single. one was all the way down, and all the way closed. Miraculously, they are sort of off white blinds, so some light filtered in. This probably drove Sam a little nutty.

So after dinner and on the way home we had a talk about the mood benefits of, you know, light.

And he agreed that I could come over the next day and we would open some windows and raise the blinds and the apartment would not be very stuffy and also I would help him organize a bit because I was happy to help and he would see that the space would just open up when we did all that.

Real Life Princess Avery seemed totally down with this whole idea. As Sam was trying to convince me that he does sometimes open his windows and allow fresh air in, she gave me a look so powerful that I swear I saw the words ‘bull’ and ‘shit’ float in the air for a second.

I can’t be sure though, because it was very dark.

So the next day, while Avery was in class, Sam picked me up and we went to Miss Cheryl’s shop for coffee and a breakfast snack. Miss Cheryl is Avery’s Mom and – I could not make this up or be happier about it – is a real life chocolatier.

I know. Gift from Heaven.

After “breakfast” (yum!), Sam and I went to his apartment and began raising the blinds and opening windows. Then we headed into his bedroom and we were talking as he was making decisions on how to organize his stuff. Sort of a ‘place for everything, everything in its place until Mom is not here’ thing.

And then we headed into the kitchen to get some cleaning products and here is how it went:

I walked through the doorway into his kitchen.

Sam, who is a close-walker, was right behind me.

We walked straight in, talking to each other and laughing at something.

Then he sort of came up beside me, on my left shoulder.

Then I asked him where the Windex was and he sort of jogged left (the kitchen is small, so we were still very close to each other).

And then we heard a noise.

And we paused for what seemed like seventeen minutes, but was really less than a second.

When another noise happened.

My brain said this, “Wait. That first noise was Sam’s shoe squeaking on the tile floor. But that second noise…”

And then all Hell broke loose.

Scratching, squeaking, very LOUD squeaking and something was MOVING and I was sure that something was about to bite my heel and I would like to tell you that I calmly said, “Okay, son, let’s move quietly and deliberately to the living room.”

But I did not.

And, I have to say, nor did Sam.

We both screamed in a way that would have made Alfred Hitchcock proud.

And we lunged.

Seriously. We both lunged for the living room.


The doorway to the living room was only about four steps away.

And we both went for it.

Screaming and high-stepping.

All. The. Way.

And I would like to say that I totally Mama Bear’d it and threw Sam to safety, mindless of my own well-being.

But I did not.

But, more importantly, I would like to say that Sam totally protected his aging mother and threw me to safety – not a thought of himself in the mix.

But he did not.

We got stuck – if only for a nano-second – in the doorway and had to fight our individual ways free.

I am proud to say that I got to the closest chair first, and I got right up on it, and Sam stopped right beside me and we looked back into the kitchen and it was only then that we burst out laughing.

Sadly, it was indeed a rat. It had gotten caught in one of the traps behind Sam’s stove. New Orleans being a southern city with the occasional swamp and/or bayou, nearly everyone has a pest contract for varmints and cockroaches. Sam had a just-in-case trap in place behind his stove, which is near the door to the outside.

So we were safe, and Bill from maintenance was on his way over, along with the pest guys. They found the intruder’s entry point pretty quickly and someone was coming over to patch it up.

By that time, Real Life Princess Avery had arrived, and Sam named the rat Roscuro – after the rat in Kate DeCamillo’s The Tale of Despereaux. Since people don’t tend to release rats back into the wild in New Orleans, we had an appropriate head-hanging moment of silence and sorrow. He was only doing what rats do, after all.

So that’s it.


Sam is not my friend.

I shouldn’t be surprised.

A while ago he made it clear that, in the event of a zombie apocalypse, if I got bitten in the hand, he would not immediately whack off my arm and tourniquet it to see if I could be saved. He would off me instead.

Said something about me being a one-armed liability anyway.

And now this.

When push came to shove (literally) he tried to leave me behind with the monster.

Sure, small monster but still.

What was a mother to do?

Psychological torture, that’s what.

Ensure that Sam would be uncomfortable for, like, ever… if I could.

So I told him the one thing that would ensure this.

I told him that rats are attracted to dark spaces.

That light kept them away.

That he should keep his apartment as light and bright as possible, 24/7, to ensure no rats ever get in again.

This was his only option.

And he nodded attentively to everything I said.

No more drawing all the blinds and curtains…

No more pitch black rooms…

No more blocking the little red light on the television…

The rats will come… the rats will come…


Kid’ll never sleep again.

Thanks for readin’.

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