Never mind the ghosts, there’s a worse horror in this place!

I can't see 'em.

But I can feel their beady little eyes boring laser holes through the wood and concrete of my white ceiling.

And hear that distinctive scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch scratch of razor-sharp pointy claws on wood.

Why on earth did god create rats?!!!?

I hear 'em scratching and clawing their way around up there, above my sink, stove and refrigerator. I don't know what they're doing up there. And I don't want to know. I want them out. I want them dead.

Everyone has one animal of utter sheer torture. A creature of which the very thought elicits deepest primal shudders. A creature whose presence so disturbs that you cannot be in the same room. Even a picture, or the word, delivers the chilling heebie-jebbies.

Those creatures above my ceiling — that's mine.

I'm grateful it's not above my bed.

I lived in a little apartment in Tokyo where it was above my bed. It was mice. I'd lie there in my futon on the tatami listening to the ruckus, the kiddies chasing one another up and down the length of the ceiling, having a grand ol' time, tumbling and flipping cartwheels.

I'd come home and find my candles gnawed on. Droppings. Once I came home and saw one — or maybe more — scurry off. I can't be sure. I've blocked it from my psyche.

That place, though, had an advantage that this one doesn't: access holes. I could see their own little private doors to my abode.

So I set down Japanese mouse poison. What a joke. The Japanese tend to be fairly delicate with their products, not hard-hitting or bombarding in flavors or potencies like those in the States.

Damn creatures inhaled it like candy! And went right on conducting their acrobatics.

It so happened that I was about to visit the States. Fortunate timing as visits were rare, about thrice in 10 years. (Can you say cultural disconnect? I sure can!)

I returned with d-Con and gave some to my neighbor who was complaining of mice getting into his food.

Within two days: Peace.

Thing is, with this place, they're not coming into the apartment — least there's no evidence. And believe you me, if there were, I'd find it in a microsecond. And lay out so much d-Con, the poor hardware store would be depleted.

This building's old, close to 100. And it has all those nooks and crannies and weirdities of structure. Creatures get in and set up their homes. I recognize that. Totally grosses me out that they do. But it's a reality.

I noticed when I moved in that several spots inside cupboards where the wood didn't quite match up were plugged with white plastic bags. So it's my assumption that those things have been around a while. And by things, I don't mean the plastic bags.

I've scoured the kitchen with a fine-tooth comb for microscopic entries. There were none. Nonetheless, I plugged the one tiny not-nook I found. That's freak-out mode for ya.

In the end, keeping them out of the apartment is one thing.

And knowing that they're up there … hearing them scratch scratch scratch and feeling those beady sharp eyes is food for nightmares. I can just imagine 'em snickering: hahahah, we can drive you insane! And you can't see or touch us!

I hear 'em mostly in evenings. Guess that's when they're returning from their jobs terrorizing the world and being the vile creatures that they are.

Sometimes I just stand there frozen, holding my breath, eyes cast upward as if waiting for an angel to appear and deliver a sermon.

Definitely not angels; it's goddamn r_ts.

Other times I grab the mop and pound the ceiling with the plastic end. Yeah, right, like that'll drive fear into their little creepy hearts and send them racing for other digs.

There's no way to access the crawl space that I'm aware of.

NOT THAT I WOULD!!!

You couldn't get me drunk enough for that mission into hell.

I keep thinking I should mention it to the landlords. Not that they don't know. And not that they haven't tried solutions. They're good folk. But I'm not sure that they'd view it as a serious problem … it was quite the effort to get the decrepit screens replaced on my windows … or a solution for which they'd be willing to pay the bucks.

And since these, uh, big mice aren't there all the time and are only above the kitchen — THANK GOD FOR THAT — where I spend the least amount of time (and yes, that's one reason), I can kinda sorta but not really live with it.

Long as I'm heavily medicated.

And meditate on this single image for serenity and peace of mind:

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