Robert Hitt Neill column 7-24-12

Published 12:00 am Tuesday, July 24, 2012

Sir Rat was a worthy adversary, taking 7 BBs before succumbing

Like most country homeowners, we are used to occasional invasions of undesirable, unwelcome critters at certain times of the year.  

When it’s really hot and dry outside, or cold and wet outside, and when the surrounding farm fields are harvested and denuded, we expect strange denizens to appear. I always hope that they will appear to me before they appear to Betsy, so I can quickly and quietly take care of the usual demise of the invader.

But the other night late, we were watching the 10PM News when Betsy exclaimed, “There’s a rat!”

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I glimpsed a sizeable rat tee-hienie disappearing behind the old sewing table, and reacted swiftly. GrandBoy Sir had spent a couple of days visiting recently, and I had left his BB gun leaning against the gun cabinet after wiping it with the oily rag. Moving quietly in sock feet, I crossed the den, grabbed the weapon, cocked it, knocked the safety off, and stepped to the wall where I could see behind the sofa, next to the sewing table.  

Sure enough, Sir Rat was headed my way, but saw immediately that he’d been headed off at the pass, and reversed course before I could get a bead on him.  “He’s coming back, Betsy!” I warned, “Watch where he goes.”

We tolerate few sissies out here at Brownspur, and my Bride kills her own snakes, as the saying goes. She leaned out of her chair to watch Sir Rat scurry around the corner into the library. “He’s behind the desk,” she directed.  

I headed through the kitchen to circle through the pantry and head the critter off again. Sure enough, he poked his head out from behind the big rolltop desk as I raised the BB gun. There was not a trace of fear on his countenance, rather more like an expression of being inconvenienced by an unworthy adversary. He backed up behind the desk, but didn’t realize his danger.

I shoot left-handed.

The desk is situated wrong for a normal right-handed shooter to be able to aim behind it, and Sir Rat obviously knew that. He was startled when I leaned against the wall and fired my first shot into the back of his neck.

This was a big rat! Big as one of those gray squirrels, it seemed like, the which we’ve had experience with in the house. He was certainly bigger than the pet flying squirrels we’ve raised or been invaded briefly by.

He took the BB between the shoulder blades and headed around the corner of the desk. “Head him off, Betsy!”I called, grabbing for a flashlight too. She did so, though Sir Rat (a play on words in honor of an old friend) apparently could tell that she was unarmed except for the fireplace poker.  He came back my way. I whacked him again.

As a rising teenager, I can recall doing exactly the same type battle with occasional rats (or once, a bullfrog) at the direction of my Momma, who was somewhat less of a lethal adversary than my Bride, armed with the poker.  

A BB gun is a fine weapon in these situations, but it ain’t got much knockdown power, truth be known. However, I wasn’t fixing to turn loose a .410 round at such close quarters. Multiple hits were going to be required on this creature, if the battle was to be won by the human race.

Several more “Head him off!” occasions by Betsy were needed before Sir Rat succumbed at the seventh BB round. He was still kicking as I used the poker to rake him out to where I could grab his tail and place him into a paper sack for proper disposal in the garage garbage can.

But Sir Rat was not finished yet, even though deceased. That was Sunday night. Here at Brownspur, the garbage truck comes by on Friday mornings. The garage faces west into the afternoon sun, and the temperatures (welcome to the Mississippi Delta in the summertime!) reached into the triple digits every day. When I arrived home Tuesday afternoon, it was apparent at long range that Sir Rat had gotten his revenge! Yes, we had a belated funeral pyre in the pasture.