Tuesday, February 25, 2014

The Pest Papers #1

If, on the outside chance you've had a rat problem at home, and it was ongoing for years, and you had a flair for zoology, you might notice, as did I, that rats come in many sizes, and have a spectrum of behaviors unique to family groupings of the prolific SOBs.  They had to go, and the first few things I did didn't work.  They were treading around the glue traps I put out, and were shrewd at stealing the bait off spring traps, such as seen on the Three Stooges.

 For a while I resorted to using 'humane' no-kill box traps, to rid the home front of the rodents, and this threw a hefty pipe wrench into a former world veiw of 'humane,' but the traps made it feasible to observe the creatures, albiet in captivity.  Much like the way the police love taking mug shots of  drunk-driving celebrities, a rat in a humane box trap doesn't look it's smartest.

For the fast skinny on rats I caught in mechanical boxes, there were limpid, quiet rats.  At their extreme, they passed away within a half hour of being caught.   Like a brash state motto in New England.  "Live free or die."   Any schmuck would conclude these are gentle-hearted rats.  Same as people who don't seek revenge, and either kill them selves or accept loss, when the things most valued are stolen.  No other explanation is possible.

Alright, maybe they were half starved to death before they  took the initiative to find food  in my ugly kitchen.   Needs modernized in the worst way.  In any case, limpid rats appeared docile.  Well mannered.  Civilized and in crisis.  They are cute, and this made my end of the deal such a ball buster.

There are ordinary, mediocre, average size rats, and like the middle class, are both diverse and non-descript at the same time.  If they were people, many would work for the city, or in a social service.   Others would be good with their hands, and apply themselves to some type of trade.  Since it's rats, though, you'll notice things like articulated clicking sounds, said to be a form of communication. Word has it that their pheramones inform communities more practically than CBS.   Not unlike jail birds, their response to confinement may range from despair to grudging compliance.  Some of these buggers are more aggressive than others, ranging from interactive to pugilistic, and they don't all look alike.  I hate when bastards fail to notice multiplicities.  Then there are the rats that remind me most of Godzilla.

I'll drop this catagory to the one that gave my worst experience of all, but not before mentioning that I was getting muscular rats, body builders, if you will, with legs the diameter of a Swiss model's upper arm.  But with muscle definition.  Picture Charles Atlas shrunk to about a foot long, going sideways.  That's not including  tail.  The rat that changed my outlook the most was a screamer.  It was the loudest screamer of them all.  Few rats do it, and of those that do, screaming is as much the personality as doing crosswords in pen. 

Three in morning I got hungry and wagged tail downstairs.  Earlier, I had set some of the box traps, and placed them near the holes the rats were partial to, but I forgot to place the last of the three traps.  It was  in the kitchen, since that was where the rats were getting in, and I left a trap, carefully set, on the kitchen table, forgetting to put it someplace else.   Some rats can leap like ballerinas.

 The screaming began while I was half way through frying eggs, and right then the simplicity of it was altered.  It made jangling yokes and whites seem like the Ipcress File.  It was a paralyzing .  This fucker was a barbarian.   I forgot about having left the the trap on the table, two feet from the stove in my shit hole 'kitchenette."  I hate fucking kichenettes.  It was inconceivable that a rat could make that much noise, and it took at least a minute to understand that the worst fucker I ever saw was caught in a trap, just at an odd angle to the salt shaker and fake posies.  Imagine getting a suspicious package from the Middle East.  OTOH, I was not in a great position to judge character or luck. 

The rat was impressive for ferocity.  Right off the top, a fellow like me   would never be as bold in the hoosegow as my prisoner was in my trap.   I'd probably be the the grudgingly compliant type,given my history.  Maybe I'm more limpid than even that.  It was a much stronger type of animal than myself, gram for pound.   And the reminder of what people are: technicians.  I have an air rifle.  How fucking ennobling to shoot caged animals with one.  What I had been doing all along had been bringing me down, in spite of practical necessity.  Along with the specious humanity of a box trap, the best way to dispose of the rats was to shoot them, through the wire and thin sheet metal, and throw their matted buns in the trash. 

Pest control, over a goodly stretch of time, was a spiritual downward trajectory.  Not far to fall, the biggest rat did the best job making sure I knew the order of ethics, relativity, courage, and power.  The screaming was an act of combat, and not from fear.  It looked at me the whole time it made every possible attempt to break free of the trap, and came dangerously close to succeeding.  The traps were flimsy.  The rat hated my guts, and communicated this.  After a few scary minutes of trying to escape, it exhausted itself, and lay back upright against the back of the cage, like a boxer covering up, but it was looking me right in the eye, with all the hate that can be mustered, irrespective of size or species.  Who could blame the nasty vermin for saying "A prick like you needs a gun."

It was the big rat that started me putting out rat poison.  I didn't want to go that route because it's bad environmentalism, strewing poison who knows where, and the crap accumulates.  But it was the expedient to less emotional trouble from shooting animals in a cage.  Using poison was against my principles, and I compromised, as the middle class so often does.  A  solution to my problem, it removes from eradication the sight of what is going on.  I'm sending out a public apology, and affirmations,  to the rats.  They were eloquent.

Saturday, February 22, 2014

Squatacopia ( a poem)

wondering what guys put their make up in
in a formerly abundant quarter of a district
shoulder bags numenous and bulging
people carried cornacopias
then came diddly
the annexed feast of squat
diddly squat
now beach bingo spills from the new lean horn
Earth Persons with fertile loose fabrics now own
a Squatacopia
there is less

Thursday, February 20, 2014

Next chapter of the cat saga..Me and Noodles

There were diverse and many alley cats mewing and nuzzling on this street, before the Cat Massacre of 2008.  Out door cats without owners, they were friends to  many people on this street.  They had fine personalities, and were robust.  Ramon was the closest of the feral cats to this household.  He and I communicated easily.  And there was a friendship between Noodles and he that went with a common, divided species.  Cats know what social stratification is.  This is one of many reasons they are so much more successful than most people.

I heard some of their conversation, through the screen door, one July.  It was something common and urgent.   Hushed, and heartfelt.  My cat is both humanitarian and a cynic.  It's a trait that grows in rocky soil, like most traits here on the North Side.    Noodles came to the screen door and tapped, and the two cats filed in as quick as I could jerk latch and knee the lousy door open.   They went directly to the kitchen table, and took seats at the round Formica.  I followed.

"My family and I subsist on woodchucks and oppossums.  We are fortunate.  There are rodents everywhere.  We eat well...:"

"Ramon would eat Punxatawny Phil, if he got a clean shot at him," Noodles jocularly interjected, and we took some time to laugh freely.  It let go the tension.  There was urgency to get on with.   "We are proud and independant creatures, are we not?" Ramon lowered his head, so not to make this request a challenge.

 "Why, Ramon, you've been nothing but a fucking wonderful next door neighbor all these years," I said.  We paused.  He continued.

"Noodles tells you keep large amounts of canned cat food here, in your home."

"Of course, Ramon, I said."  Noodles monitored the interface.  "If you are in need, I am certain we can assist."

"You see, normally we live off the land, but my great uncle has contracted colitis.  He can not digest our rodents.  He needs canned food."

Well I love the way simple solutions to trouble  can be so mutually rewarding.  In no time at all, we were trading beef chunks in gravy with cheese for dead wood chucks.  I never would have guessed they were so tasty  chicken fried.    It was that incident of illness that started us all eating together.  We adopted communality.

Wednesday, February 19, 2014

Me and Noodles....the cat saga

 Ramon was such a good natured outlaw.  A slow moving, powerful feral cat, many sizes larger than average, he and my own kittie held court on the front porch, with regularity.  I would overhear through the screen door their kinship.   My cat had all modcons, as our Brittish pals might say, and  Ramon  lived in a crack hovel abondoned years ago, with his family, his cats, as broad as rainbows arch.  He would visit, and we would spend time down the street, with the zillion feral cats.

Not hardly typical of my beloved Noodles, she waxed nostalgic the other evening.  Noodles speaks fluent English, born of feral cats not two litters back from that dicy way of life, half wild, not at all averse to a relationship.   I think she's found something new in herself, knitted from experience.    Some ethnic American  gangsters are known to find their herritage through this same process.   But a cat cannot be a criminal.

A feral cat is outlaw.  The difference has been explained by many as an outlaw didn't choose to be on the outs.  People can be like that, and cats certainly.   Noodles, my sleek angel calico, was reserved and guarded, yet fluent, about her lost companion, Ramon.   "We are outlaws for speaking the truth," I once heard the kohl black alley cat confide to Noodles.

"Speaking the truth."  I liked Ramon.  A cat of few words.  "Killing a robbin, or some gringo's parakeet is something that we must do.  Have you known me to be a sadist?  Was anyone downtown sweating the fate of their prime rib at  the Duquesne Club?  We are  proud, bird-eating outlaws."

Reviled for snagging lunch.   And for spreading rabies.   "Need I remind that  founding fathers spread syphillis," Ramon would say.  "More people die from roller skating accidents than from us." he mused.  And the vast numbers of feral cats was provided for in all the decaying homes the city confiscated and left to rot.  What fine city planning we had, when Tom Murphy was in office.

It was sometime in 2008 that the back hoes came.   The crack houses were demolished, but not before arch urban treachery.  It was reported on the news.  Propaganda.  Feral cats with rabies.  Near where people's brats play in the street, thus there is concern.  More items on the news.  The no-kill animal shelters would be finding homes for the feral cats.  But the cats were massacred using traps and poisons.  It's cheaper.  Faster.  This North Side 'hood is not a place that squawks.  We don't cry to authorities.  We let the good old boys play their tricks.

The other night Noodles was saying the pink jagged scar that ran down Ramon's face, and the way his one broken whisker strayed from the other  fierce, downward black hairs , reminded her of Al Capone. I could see the resemblance.  There were  many cats lost to the massacre, many looked like Ramon.  He was fertile.  That cat spoke with us.  Noodles shared her recollections, sitting up on the futon under the reading lamp.  then we retired.  She snuggles better than most cats.

Saturday, February 15, 2014

Personal Stuff

There are some really poor shmoes out there. These guys and gals suffer borborygmus. An on-going, noisome, condition in which the guttsies makes noises. Draining and churning sounds, in succession. In my case, it can be heard from across the room. Like it matters, there is no physical pain, just the discomfort of knowing I sound like a laboratory instrument turned all the way up. It's a bonafide social handicap, for which there is no known treatment, and which isn't recognized as serious enough to win you a charity parking space and special license plate. There are coping strategies that aught to get at least a doggone bowl of soup. I gave myself a nick name. I'm Gurgles. My new name is Gurgles.

"Don't be shy"-I say to the woman behind the cosmetics counter-"I came to pick up the perfume I ordered. Yes, it's Gurgles. Gurgles Hineschmidt."

"Is this gallon of Rex Derriere for you, or is it a gift, if I may ask, Gurgles?

This woman was my type. Stern and tall. I'd let her rip out one of my kidneys with a can opener if she needs it to sell for a fix. But at the moment, I had a huge statue-shaped bottle of fragrance to navigate. I'm going through changes. Coping mechanisms. I'm determined to pull off an egg basket of them.

Lately I've been shortening 'supposed to' to 'spozta,' with a long 'O,' of course. It's a linquistic moral decline. From the social stresses.

I believe people have organic needs to improve their slump. Everyone slumps. Then there is some damp resurrection, with more energy with which to cope with people and places. When people generalize like this, and name themselves after borborygmus, you can say they would make a crappy personal friend. I usually do.
Independent of annoying stomach noises that can go on for hours. I'm 'spozta' adapt to having alien sounds. And figure out, same as everyone else, including non-borborygmus sufferers, how to get along with people.

There are believers and non believers in musk. The former are my scented kin. It is possible to neutralize sound with smells. Has to be the right one. I'm smelling a lot of it because the gorilla shaped gallon bottle of Rex Derriere is hard to keep a grip on. There's a pool of it soaking into the center of my Oleg Cassini lounging PJs. Damn. But transfiguration is going just fine.

Woke up this morning like Robert Johnson finding his guitar out of tune. Before I even made coffee, I darted out of my cot and went right to the glass likeness of King Kong, or some facsimile of a commanding, superior ape, which is how Rex Derriere is marketing his fragrance. Maybe the ape looks more like Mighty Joe Young. In any case, I stole a whiff of some of it at the perfume counter last year, and don't think this monkey water don't draw game. I splashed a load of the unguent on the old puss. Then I sat back in my gigundous brown Barcalounger, and let the smell drape itself around the olfactory gluttons for pleasure.

Well, it's nearing time to head out, for once, after about fifteen years of being a hermit. There have been a series of decoder rings in my life, bought from comic books and Popular Metaphysics, that were spozta provide some form of relief, even if only from boredom. There were herbal products said to make the organs ride unicycle on a tight rope, smiling. Exercise gadgets that make the body a temple, since it usually, in most people,is a red lights district. But it's the way I smell that is going to make all the difference. Time for another splash from the great gallon. 

Say, I was just playing a few licks on my Flying Vee, when this bat flew in the house. Ominous SOB. Comes in. Perches right on the stopper on the bottle of Rex Derriere. Smart move. How am I going to get at the intruder without smashing eight thousand dollars worth of scent.

While I tried to let the bat make the next move, I went over to the eight track tape player I'm using, and pushed in a real old tape I have of Nico singing "My Funny Valentine." It is, after all, that funny holiday. Funny as borborygmus.

Bonus Haiku

dreary convenience store

stale coffee falls dead
industrial cream creeps out
hand pump dispenser