Sunday, March 18, 2012


I woke up the other night, and like the famous Miss Clavel said in Bemelman's Madelane  thought
"Something is not right." and turned on the light.
My cats sleep most of the day and then spend their night outside in the courtyard waiting...
Occasionally, a young naive mousey spouts out of the drainpipe.
After the first primal scream of finding one of these creatures no bigger than my pinky, in my newly found atelier,  I often captured it and put it outside to the disgust of my feline companions.
So,what was the stir? My two cats were mulling around in front of some paintings stacked against the wall.
"You've done it again." I scolded them. "There's a mouse in there."
No comment - tails swaying high.
I  jiggled the paintings and the victim fled for safety behind a wooden crate under my upstairs desk.
The cats pursued him from both sides trapping him in between.
Then I heard,"Queek, queek, queek, queek, queek."
"You devils!"
and I pulled the crate forward.
He fled again to The Pile
(papers, drawings, boxes to return my computer the next time it breaks down, and whatever.)
I saw that he had an exit strategy if he wished, and  I hoped he would return to the ground floor.
I went back to bed and needless-to-say did not sleep. But I rested and listened.
I got up at daybreak( or as my neighbors were taking their kids to school) and observed that
he had made it to ground floor, now safe behind another group of paintings.
I noticed that he was black and thought it unusual, but anyway put some water and a little grub in his spot, because I didn't want him to die in hiding. That smells bad.
I had some errands to do and left the window open hoping he would make it to safety.
I was home in the afternoon and on the phone to a friend who was talking to me intensely about a very serious subject and out he came hobbling across the floor.
He was about as big as a hamster with a tail - maybe nine inches long.
He was limping, apparently in pain. Then he sat on his haunches in front of me and looked up.
"O  my God!"
My friend was still talking. Miss Kitty was on my desk to my left and Lucy on a trunk on my right.
I was still listening- looking at the cats. They were looking at me and Queek-queek.
I leaned over to pick him up. He bit me between my thumb and index.
"Ouch. Have to go. He bit me."
I put on a disinfectant and when I returned, Queek-queek was still there out in the open.
The cats seemed hypnotised by his audacity.
I  grabbed a strainer that was on my kitchen counter and capped him for his own safety.
Then took my most recent water color on papier ARCHE and slid it  underneath.
I was about to walk out to put him in the street, but stopped  thinking he was injured and would not survive.
Looking down at a cat carry-all that my English neighbor had passed on to me, I halted.
Opened up a cage (cat carry-all) and put Queek-queek inside.
Then cut off a chunk of apple and dropped it in.
I watched.
Rats have fingers. He picked it up as we would a slice of watermelon and began chewing.
Then I took a Japanese tea cup, and filled it with water and placed it inside z cage.
He took his little fingers and tilted it, then jumped in - paddling like a seal. He slurped up the water
then retreated and washed his face as a cat would.
I called my doctor. She suggested that I come by. She had a place for me later in the afternoon.
When I arrived at her office
I asked her if she thought I was crazy for trying to pick him up.
She shrugged her shoulders as if that wasn't an appropriate question.
She gave me a prescription for an antibiotic and instructed me to call The Institute Pasteur the next morning.
I then went around the corner to my neighborhood pharmacist  and again recounted the details.
She said that she loved rats and had had many as pets. But she insisted that I follow doctors orders and call the Institute Pasteur in the morning.
I returned home and checked out Queek-queek. Gave him another chunk of  apple and a few flakes of oatmeal. then watched him devourer his dinner.
This time I wore a glove when I opened the door to freshen his water.
          (to be continued- part 2 tomorrow)
I have been away four two weeks. Sorry for not finishing the story.  
I called Th Institute Pasteur the next morning and inquired about "rat bites".
The receptionist transfered me to that expertise.
The professor asked me if it was a city rat or a country rat.
I told her it was a Montmartre rat. Black. Small with a long tail.
Rats in France no longer have rabies.
Some country cats and country dogs do.
"Just make sure your tetanus is up to date."
All the same, I decided to set  Queek-Queek free
only to learn that he was long gone having chewed through the wire mesh on his enclosure.
I imagine he made it to the open window and returned to his family safely with many tales to tell.

1 comment:

  1. Mary you are slightly less than sane! I detest rats! I think it comes from having to go into turkey sheds and kill them as they rat ran straight up the walls having filled themselves with turkey feed. Thenks for the memories quand meme!



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