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The Siege In an awful repeat of the previous night, shrieking cuts our sleep short and I go down with him this time. I’m not going to make him do the dirty deed twice. I will share the ratricidal burden. by SHASTI O’LEARY SOUDANT


an!” I yell. “What?” from upstairs. “We have a rat!” “WHAT?” The sounds of scrambling. Toilet flushing. Ian rushes down the creaky stairs, a one-man herd of buffalo. He stops short at the spectacle. And shrinks ever so slightly. “Are you sure it’s a rat? It could have been a mouse…?” So hopeful. I look at him, steel myself, close my eyes, and pull open the grains drawer, right next to the baking drawer. Ian’s gagging confirms my worst fears. This is too much carnage for a mere mouse, and the little black turds it has left behind are larger than a grain of rice. Several are almost the size of kidney beans. We have been invaded. I want to throw up. I want to burn the chest of drawers. I really like this chest of drawers. It came with the house. It was the subject of a long and intense negotiation with the previous owners. I normally don’t form attachments to objects, but this array of 12 glass-fronted drawers housed in a sturdy wooden frame topped with a butcher block is about as close as I come to an emotional bond with furniture. I don’t want to lose it. I just want it cleansed. By fire. Ian sighs heavily. “Any idea how they got in?” 56 BCM 36

I look at him, eyebrow askance. Seriously? This house is 123 years old. I’m surprised it hasn’t happened sooner. We’ve been here 10 years. Ten blissful, innocent, hopeful years. What children we were. What sweet, trusting babies. “Do we know anyone with a flame thrower?” I ask. Ian shrugs his very big shoulders and his mouth forms a perfect upside-down unhappy little U. He looks like Grumpy Cat. I giggle for a moment. And then revert to grim pragmatism. We need bleach. Lots and lots of bleach. And gloves. And a face mask. Preferably with a HEPA filter. You know, Hanta Virus. And sponges. Oh, God, so many sponges. Normally, Ian hates amateur hour at Home Depot. Sundays are his least favorite day to even approach the place, but this is an emergency. He heads out into the tundra. I start looking for The Hole. Houses this old are a relationship. They’re not a simple transaction. A house this old has moods. Throws tantrums. Sulks, cracks, mutters and groans. This house in particular has developed a peculiar sort of passive-aggressive and manipulative demeanor. While we have been vigilant about buttoning her up, making sure that her bones are fortified and protected, we’ve maaaaybe neglected her inner cosmetics just a little. She looks fabulous from the outside. A true Queen Anne Victorian Painted Lady. New roof, fresh paint job, almost a hussy on our block, but not quite. If we’d

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