It seemed like a peaceful day; slightly overcast and pleasant. I was just 11 years old and while my mother was doing gardening and sweeping out the drain at the back of our home, I was using my imagination to turn my entire backyard into a fantasy world where the grass became vast expanses of rainforest and the concrete porch abutting the drain became a large airstrip for my toy planes.
I was flying my model Douglas A4 Skyhawk over the hostile and mysterious jungles looking for ant hills and other insects to irritate when the quiet of the afternoon was suddenly interrupted by a yell from my mother. A foolish rat had decided to emerge from the drain and run along the concrete porch. My mom reacted quickly, grabbing a broom and using it to try to bean the animal on the head as it ran.
I was jumping with excitement as I witness the contest between my mom and the rat. Down came the broom here with a crash and there with a bang. The rat was clearly regretting his decision to come out and was squealing as he expertly dodged the blows raining down on him. One of my mom’s blows with the broom had hit him but perhaps not with much force. He was able to carry on his crazy run even though he appeared at least a little stunned. It seemed like a long time but perhaps barely half a minute had passed when the rat managed to dive into safety into a little crack between the drain and the porch.
There were cracks and holes all along the juncture of the porch and the drainwhere the concrete there was crumbly with age. When the rat made it into that labyrinth under the concrete, I thought that the day’s entertainment was over but my mother’s blood was up. She used the broom handle and tried to poke it through the hole. What infuriated her was that she could not get at the rat but when she removed the broom, she could make out the rat’s shiny beady eyes in the deep recesses of the hole looking at her.
She ran into the kitchen and came back out with some rags and an insecticide aerosol can. She used the rags to stuff some of the holes along the drain to prevent the rat from escaping and then she pumped the aerosol can contents into the first hole. Then we both waited, expecting the rat to emerge gassed.
Nothing happened. My mom then decided to smoke the rat out. She twisted some newspaper, lit it and inserted it into the hole. Now my highly intelligent readers will no doubt have anticipated the consequence of applying a flame to a dense cloud of inflammable aerosol.
There was an almighty explosion. BOOM! Sheets of flame shot out of all the holes and cracks and when the dust settled, parts of the concrete slabs was completely blown up into rubble exposing parts of the underground sanctuary. My mom’s hair was slightly singed.
Both my mom and I was stunned by the explosion. I looked at her slightly soot-dusted face and we laughed away the tension of the moment. After she recovered her composure, she rooted through the rubble with the broom handle but found no evidence of the rat. No body or even gross body parts.
I’d like to think that the rat got out alive. Perhaps he was already on his way out one of the escape routes when he was catapulted out by the explosion. There he lay, slightly singed and dazed but alive! While my mom searched the debris, he would make his escape to his nest where he would tell his astonished and rapt rodent audience about his adventure and how he cheated death at the hands of this new weapon of terror.