Sometimes truth is stranger than fiction. This renter’s story will make you laugh and cringe at the same time.
Rats. And not just one rat. A lot of rats.
I was living in Bushwick, and after Sandy, a lot of Brooklyn's rats got pushed inland. One night I heard a rustle, something got on a plastic bag. It was too loud to be a mouse. After investigating my girlfriend and I found large droppings under the sink, so we invested in glue traps.
The next night, the rat got into a bag of Cadbury eggs left on the table. So, I think: great, they like chocolate. I put the eggs on the glue traps hoping it would catch it. The next morning, I woke up to see all of the eggs plucked off. Smart bastard. So instead of placing the glue traps in different parts of the kitchen, I put them all together like one large glue trap valley, and this time it worked. Later that night I heard a squeaking and the rat got all jumbled up in traps, hysterically scampering across the floor. I had to throw another glue trap on top of it, making a bit of a rat-trap sandwich. I knew I had to kill it as reminded by my girlfriend, standing on a chair screaming bloody murder -- it was honestly the largest animal I've ever had to kill. Rising to the occasion, I crushed it with my foot until the squeaking stopped. You know in movies when the villain suffocates the person in the hospital with a pillow? It was kind of like that. I lifted my foot and took a deep breath -- sending a prayer out to the rat gods.
There was silence for a moment. An then it started squeaking. Again. Because, as I would find out later, rats can RESTART their fucking hearts. So, we go through the whole excruciating scene again, with the suffocating with the foot like the villain with the pillow in the hospital until this time I was sure it was dead. I didn't pray to the rat gods that time. Undead fucker.
Crisis over. Right? What I didn't know was that, when you see one rat it means there are hundreds. Rats are routine based, they have a list of stops per day, and if they put you on their schedule, there is no way getting off of it. So, it began that every night, as soon as the sun went down, they came. Like gremlins. The following things actually happened:
-Woke rat up after getting home from work, was sleeping in my sweater.
-Rat jumped out of garbage, as I was discarding soup contents.
-Woke rat up after getting home from a show, was sleeping in my bed.
-Scratching, lots of scratching everywhere.
-Dead rat under kitchen table.
-Rat staring at me having sex.
-Rats playing in the walls. Loudly.
-Two rats hiding out in my kitchen.
-Rat poop on my bed.
It had gotten so bad that I built a wall between the kitchen in my bedroom, I lived in a tiny studio, and there wasn't so much neutral territory. You know you've hit rock bottom when you cede parts of your apartment to rats. My landlord, of course, was useless, claiming he was trying to fix it with poison and refused to pay for an exterminator. So, I decided to hire my own.
In the meantime, it was war. My girlfriend bought me a book on NYC's rats, so I could learn about the enemy. Not only are rats incredibly intelligent but they like, pizza, mac and cheese, roast chicken, bagels...these are things I like too. They hate vegetables, but sometimes dabble in a nightshade...typically avoid spicy food (unless they live in Hispanic communities -- this is true.) I have to say that I started to have a bit of fascination and, dare I say it, empathy for them.
The exterminator filled all of the holes with this sort of fiber-glass laced foam filler, and for such an old building, it took a long time and cost a lot of money, but the rats for the most part stopped coming around. It was months without a sighting, but I would still hear the scratching, I wasn't sure if it was in my head...PTSD or whatnot.
It turned out that after we had filled, there were still a couple of refugees in the apartment. They took up camp in my closet and avoided being seen. Until, one night, I bought a bag of mini bagels. A rat's body can squeeze down to essentially the size of its head, which is why it is able to fit pretty much anywhere. a bagel, however, does not have that same pliancy. My girlfriend woke up the next day to see a row of bagels along the closet door, as the rats unsuccessfully attempted to squeeze them in. At that point, I just couldn’t help but laugh.