The Rat Killin’
You’re cheating yourself if you don’t read this story. It’s an eye-opening look at what’s really going on in the South.
It was funny to me at the time, and God knows I needed some humor in my life. Things weren’t that great.
The first man I married — I have to number ’em because there’s been so damned many — maybe wasn’t a great choice for me. I’m tryin’ to be nice here.
The rest of his family is pure gold. He just came out wrong. Wasn’t nothin’ you could do about it, and I didn’t know to try. I was as naïve as a girl could be back in those days. I’ve learned a lot since then, and not all of it’s good.
My education has come with a price I’d rather not have paid.
At first, I thought Bubba Jr. hung the moon. He could do no wrong in my eyes. It’s like God sent him to rescue me from a life of normalcy.
By the time we got a divorce, I realized he was the devil and could make you think anything he wanted you to. If anybody was a rescuer, it sure wasn’t him. He got me in more messes than I knew a person could get into.
That ain’t really part of my story though, at least not this one.
I can’t name too many good things that happened while I was married to Bubba Jr. Most of them were pretty damn bad. Of course, there ain’t no sense in bringin’ all of that up right now.
What I want to tell you about is the rat killin’.
That first husband of mine wasn’t very good at workin’. Well, that ain’t exactly true. He might’ve been good at workin’, but he sure wasn’t good at showin’ up to do it. I didn’t know that at first. I thought he was like all the other men I’d known in my life, strong and steady and a hard worker.
He wasn’t any of that. Lookin’ back on it now, I can’t see how I ever thought he could be. It was like I just fell off the turnip truck right into his arms. I didn’t know any better back then. I sure do now.
I was big and pregnant til the baby (I ain’t gonna say his name. He’s still my kid, even though he’s grown.) was born. I didn’t really know how to be a good wife, it being my first time and all.
I was determined to give it all I had.
That’s why I got up at four o’clock every morning to make Bubba Jr’s lunch in those early days. I made his breakfast too. He just laid there, sleeping through my wifely duties.
Biscuits and gravy for breakfast; 2 big ole’ sandwiches for his lunch. Yes, I made my husband sandwiches. I know I oughta’ be ashamed. I haven’t done it since though, and I probably won’t ever. He ruined it for the other three.
I’m thinking now that the reason all my marriages went to hell may’ve had something to do with the way I got tricked in the beginnin’. I had a hard time trustin’ anybody after him, and it wasn’t because of anything in this story. Well, maybe a little bit.
After I cooked, I’d go put his socks and pants on him while he was lyin’ there. He still wasn’t tryin’ to get up. Finally, with me naggin’ him ’til I was blue in the face, he got out of bed and rolled on to work.
At least that’s what I thought he was doing. Why else would somebody get up that early in the damn mornin’ and let his wife cook and make sandwiches for him?
Well, two weeks later, I asked him where the paycheck was. We needed some more sandwich stuff, and I didn’t know how we were gonna get it.
That’s when I found out the truth.
I can’t remember if he told me or if the lightbulb finally came on in my brain. Either way, the gig was up.
Turns out he never went to work at all. I don’t know if he didn’t show up or if he just never had a job to start with. There wasn’t any paycheck coming in though. I figured that out pretty quick.
We had to move out of his grandmother’s house.
When your own grandmother throws you out ’cause you’re no ‘count, you do the only thing you can do.
You go live with your other grandmother ’til she puts you out too. And that’s just what we did.
He didn’t even pretend to work after that. Oh, he might’ve kept a job for a week or two to get the first paycheck, but then he’d quit. It was a hard life for me and the baby. I never knew how we were gonna eat. I didn’t, a lot of the time. I always managed to take care of my little boy though.
We ended up having to move every time the rent was due because we couldn’t pay it, being that Bubba Jr. chose his bed and a whole lot of other stuff over a job.
I don’t know how, but he could charm the skin off a rattlesnake. He was able to talk many unsuspecting people into letting us stay in places that needed work. He’d get a cheap deal by promising to fix everything good as new for ’em, only he never made good on those promises.
He’d start out strong by tearing everything up pretty good. Hardly ever put it back together. I doubt if he even knew how.
That’s how the rat killin’ came to happen.
We were “renting” an old house in exchange for redoing it. The kitchen was the only room that showed any improvement when this all went down. It was painted a bright yellow color. It almost hurt my eyes walkin’ in the room, but I complimented Bubba Jr. just like a good wife should, even though by this time I was pretty much over bein’ his wife at all.
The old house was filled with rats.
They probably came through the holes in the floor, but I’m thinking they’d been there long enough that they thought we were intruding on their territory, and I wasn’t about to argue with ‘em.
These weren’t little mice, although those are scary enough. I ain’t ever seen anything move as fast as those, unless it’s me tryin’ to get away from one of ‘em!
These rats were huge, what we call wood rats.
We set out on a campaign to rid the place of the evil vermin, or at least he did. They were bigger than my sweet baby, who was about three months old at the time, if I remember right. I wanted no part of ‘em.
I kept telling that stubborn ass there were rats living in our stove, but he didn’t believe me. Every time I cooked, I could hear somethin’ moving around in the space beside the oven. I was scared to death it was gonna jump out and get me!
That night, I was cookin’ with one arm and holding the baby in the other. I heard somethin’ movin’ again, so I called Bubba Jr. to come listen.
He said, “There ain’t no damn rats in the stove,” which started an argument, because I knew damn well somethin’ was in there makin’ noise. He always had to be right though, so he said it again. “There ain’t no damn rats in the stove, see?” And he shook the stove to prove it to me.
That was his first mistake.
He made countless others, but that right there was enough for divorce court.
The biggest rat I’d ever seen (and I still ain’t seen a bigger one to this day) was living in there after all, and that shakin’ stove made him MAD.
He decided to make a grand entrance into our obnoxious yellow kitchen, and not in a graceful way.
He came out of the back of the stove, ran up the curtain, and kind of hurled his body across the room. Straight at old Bubba Jr.’s stubborn ass head.
I ain’t ever heard a grown man sound so much like a girl, before or since!
He screamed, I screamed, and the baby screamed! I ain’t too sure the wood rat didn’t scream. Hell, he had a right to. We probably scared him just as bad as he scared us.
Well, I took off running with the baby and jumped up on the dining room table. My dumbass husband grabbed the broom and took off after that maniacal, jumpin’ rat.
He chased that stupid thing for an hour at a hard run. It might’ve even been longer than that. I was up there on the table, hollerin’, laughin’, and dodgin’ the slingin’ broom.
He was as determined to kill that rodent as it was to stay alive.
I ain’t ever laughed so hard and screamed so much in all my life.
Finally, Bubba Jr. caught a break. The rat ran up in a piece of rolled up carpet we had ready to use on the bedroom floor. Bubba Jr. was yellin’ like a Comanche. He hollered “I’ve got you now, you spineless devil!”
It was a foolproof plan.
I can’t say I found any fault with it. I sure thought it would work.
When the varmint ran into that rolled up piece of carpet, he stood it straight up on end, trappin’ what had to be a terrified and exhausted rat at the bottom.
Bubba Jr. motioned for me to grab the sledgehammer leanin’ against the wall by the door. I reluctantly got down, gave it to him, and dragged a chair over to him too. He stood on the chair and dropped the sledgehammer straight down toward the rat in the rolled-up carpet.
Like I said, it was a perfect plan. There wasn’t anywhere for the rat to go. No way he could miss.
Except he did.
Smilin’ like the demon he is, he laid the carpet down to look at the rat’s dead body.
That rat just screamed with glee and took off runnin’ again.
I darted back to the dinin’ room and leapt back up on the table. Bubba Jr. was madder than I’d ever seen him be. He grabbed the broom and started cussin’, runnin’, and swingin’.
About an hour more of solid runnin’, and the rat raised up on its back legs and fell over, dead as a doorknob.
I guess he was just worn out from tryin’ to save his own miserable hide.
I ain’t sure, but if I had to guess, I’d say that’s still the most honest work Bubba Jr. has ever done in his life.
Also published HERE