I am still just a rat in a maze.
I don’t know why I spent so much time on Pixabay and Paint to make that stupid, yet free, image. I guess I was trying to save me writing a thousand words but I asked around and everyone said they didn’t understand it, so it looks like I have to write this whole thing out.
The eighties were a different time. Obviously.
One thing that was different then was my age. I was just a kid. A kid who really liked animals, amongst other things, but we’ll get into that later.
So a buddy and I were at a mall that had a pet store in it. I was fascinated by the birds they had there and couldn’t help but notice the price tags that came with them. Some were in the thousands of dollars.
I checked my bank book and saw that I had $7 in my account. Add that to the $18 in my wallet and I could afford a $25 bird. Maybe a budgie.
They were only about $10 as long as I had a cage and food. I did have an old gerbil cage from a bad choice my brother and the cat made but they said it was no good for birds.
That’s when we saw the sign.
Rats – $3.99
We asked if we could hold the rats, to make sure they were tame and they let us go in a room with a few so they couldn’t escape.
Escape? They didn’t even want to leave my sweater. Their tiny little claws were crawling all over us and it felt great. We picked the two boys we wanted and they boxed them up with a bag of food for us. All together it cost like $15. What a score.
He got the fat one with the huge balls and named him Elvis. Mine was younger and not yet pronounced in the testicle department so I called him Michael Jackson.
When I got home, I started getting Michael’s cage ready with some shavings from the chicken coop and a bunch of toilet paper rolls to run around in. Some food and water to top things off and then I let him crawl around on me while I laid on the bed.
Then the phone rang.
Turned out that someone wasn’t allowed to have a rat in the house so Elvis had to go. I agreed to take him, even though my mom was clearly motioning that this was not happening. We only had one phone that was attached to the kitchen wall, so it was pretty easy to see her.
I could deal with her later. Right now there was an animal that needed my help.
I should mention that another thing I really liked was rebellion and dissidence. It sort of fueled me until my twenties. There was just something about sticking it to The Man that I really liked.
To be clear, in this instance my mom was The Man.
I walked over and got Elvis so he could come and live with his
brothersibling. I had to strike that because, within a week of being reunited, Michael Jackson, who shall herein be named Lita Ford, gave birth to a bunch of tiny, pink freaks.
Looks like old Elvis grabbed her by the pussy or something. At least I assume it was him. There could have been a bunch of males and females mixed up in that batch. After phoning the pet store, they told me that they just guessed which ones were male, as most rats are sold for snake food and don’t make it to parenthood.
Well, I now needed another fucking cage to keep them separated. Uncle Larry probably had one. He always had useful shit like that around the house.
It took a couple of days to track him down and he gave me a cage he had in his workshop. I took it right home and put Elvis in it. It looked like maybe there were a few babies missing, but I can’t say for certain.
I probably should have counted them but then again, who really wants to know that their pet gobbled up their own, or anyone else’s, babies? Not me, that’s for damn sure.
Everything was good for about a month until Lita Ford, who still was living with her brood, had another batch of babies.
What the fickity fuck? Her kids couldn’t have done it. It’s like a three week gestation period and there’s no way that they reached sexual maturity at a week old. Is there? They didn’t even have their fucking eyes open. I bet that dirty, old, Elvis slipped one past the goalie. You would think that she wouldn’t have gone into heat after just pumping out a bloody pile of shrimps, but the animal kingdom is a strange and wonderful miracle.
I’m not going to get into the shitshow that went on at my house when Mom found out that there were now around twenty rats in the house, as opposed to the one that was there when she warned me not to bring another rat into the house. Needless to say, I was in need of a solution to my newest problem.
Enter the German
At school, during homeroom, I mentioned aloud that I had a bunch of rats in various stages of life that I had to get rid of. The German kid pulled me aside after silent reading and asked me how much I wanted for them. The fact that he was reading the Satanic Bible didn’t bother me a bit.
Holy fuck, what do I do here? On one hand, I am broke and would love to at least get the money I had spent on this furry fiasco back, but on the other hand, I wondered if I could turn a profit. I didn’t want to scare him off, as I needed to get rid of these fucking rats but greed got to me.
I started by telling him they were $4 each at the pet store and I had twenty of them. He flat out told me that there was no way that he was going to pay $80 to do experiments in his backyard.
I was about to ask what experiments he was doing, but then I decided that I really didn’t give a shit. I figured he had a snake he needed to feed so why would I care if he was putting drops of LSD on their backs or dripping their blood to outline the pentagram that is probably next to the huge swastika in his yard.
Obviously, they wouldn’t really have those in the yard. That was just me acting foolish. They would keep them in the basement so as to not arouse suspicion amongst the liberal neighbours.
I told him that I wasn’t going to charge him that much, but I would like to get a buck a piece. He said that was fine and said he would bring in the money on Friday. That really wasn’t good for me, what with the stern talking to by my mother, but I said it was cool. What fucking choice did I have?
Now I had to figure out how to keep the rats out of the house for three days and then sneak them into school Friday morning until the end of the day. Piece of cake, right?
I decided that it would be too hard to take all of them in at once so I would sneak a few into the school each day. I took the books out of my gym bag and left them in my locker. I never did homework anyhow, and I was going to need the room.
I took seven in each day and put them in the bottom of my locker which I had lined with shavings and added a water and food dish. It was too hard to hold them in when I opened the door, so I only did it first thing in the morning. I wasn’t prepared for the smell of so many rats shitting and pissing in one square foot of locker bottom, but I needed this to go down smoothly so I stayed the course.
I know what you’re thinking.
Why didn’t you just put all the rats in a bag and drown them in a bucket of bleach?
Well, that’s sort of overkill, but things along that line sure popped into my head. I figured that since they were going to die from experiments, I could just kill them and get it over with.
$20 in the 80s is like $155 now.
Judging from what I made an hour then to what I make an hour now.
Are you telling me you wouldn’t smuggle rats into a high school for $155? You’re fucking right you would. If you wouldn’t, I don’t want to know you.
So Friday rolls around and Klaus Von Schittenhead comes up and hands me five dollars. I tell him that they are a buck a piece and he just nods and says he’ll take five of them. I stress the fact that I need him to take all twenty but he says that all he has is five bucks, so that’s all he can take this week.
I couldn’t imagine the smell after another week or how many inbred rats would be living in there by then.
I had to break down and tell him that he can just have the rest for free as long as he takes them as soon as school is done. He seemed quite pleased with this and mentioned that he had already built a maze for the experiments. I asked if he was electrocuting them when they took a wrong turn and he shook his head saying that he was going to try and reward them with a treat for making the correct turn.
I was ashamed of myself for assuming that a German kid that reads the Satanic Bible is automatically a Nazi rat torturer. The problem is that was a kid, and my mind hadn’t developed enough to admit things like this. Just like I didn’t admit to him that most likely the rats would chew through his gym bag before his mother could drive him home.
I nominate @arseniclullaby and @johnthefelon to get an entry into this sumbitch.
All photos are free from Pixabay. I’d happily pay for their photos if I had money. They’re that good.