RK takes out second rat to venture into territory

By Mary K. Hamner
Journal Correspondemt

He was doomed to begin with, but still, he was hungry. Foraging around in the snow had been an exercise ending in frustration- rat food was in short supply. It was a Great Depression as far as the rat was concerned.

"Times were good before that cat intruded himself into my territory," the rat thought.

"I had a never-ending supply of sunflower seeds the old woman bought for the birds, and now and then some tasty items could be scratched out of the kitchen scraps she threw in her compost pile. Then- it happened! Some dumb dude threw that cat out close by and he wormed his way into the old woman's life style. Bad luck for a self respecting on the dole rat like me!"

"First it was my brother Earl who had no warning in advance of the cat attack. That old Manx stunned him with his first pounce, kept him around a while to poke and play with, then began eating him head first. At least the old woman had the decency to bury what was left of Earl before that monster came back for second helpings. There ought to be a law against rat murder- rats have rights too!"

"While I was out sobbing my guts out over my brother Earl, the woman was rubbing that dratted cat on the head and telling him that he was a ' good boy'. Little did she know that our rat genealogy goes back way before that cat's. While his ancestors were riding those ships over to the original thirteen colonies from the Isle of Man, guess who was taking care of the trash on those same ships. Our Great grandfather Earl Burl Wharf was part of the great migration to Louisiana and his descendents, Earl and me, Burl, have been living in that garage that old cat thinks he now owns since long before his time. The woman didn't know for sure, but evidence is that she suspected our presence. She kept putting out this food for us, but we didn't eat it because her reputation in the culinary arts is not too hot."

"I knew it was foolhardy to slip into the garage that evening but the door was still up and those tantalizing sunflower seeds had been spilled within reach of the flower bed outside, I thought. The clock inside had not yet chimed five o'clock, the routine time for cat dinner. I snatched a seed, and then another, and hunger became an all consuming obsession and I lost all sense of time."

It was then that disaster struck for Burl. The garage door came down and he was trapped inside. Later in the evening I found his almost lifeless body with RK in attendance, poking and prodding to see if he could get him to make one last jump. Later, I found the cat supplementing his evening meal with the rat's head and teeth. What better source of protein and calcium could he find.

Today my compost pile has become a graveyard of sorts. Two graves bear the following markers, similar in all but the dates. He lies the halves of Burl Wharf and Earl Wharf. Each lost his head in the ongoing conflict between rat and Manx.