Once I got home, I rinsed the bougainvillia off, as all of it was covered in dust. I put my nice flowers in a vase, and the yellow flower was placed in the middle. It set off the others quite nicely.
After supper and cleaning up the kitchen, I had a pleasant evening, and went to bed about 10 pm. I was almost asleep when suddenly I heard a crash coming from the kitchen. I froze for a moment, and then switched on the light. I hurried into the kitchen and found my wooden spoons and spatulas had crashed to the floor beside the refrigerator. I picked them up, wondering why they had decided to fall like that. I determined to wash them all the next day, and returned to bed.
Easter Sunday morning, I hastened through breakfast and went to church. However, in the afternoon, I started to prepare my lunch. I went to the sink to wash my hands, and the soap in the soap dish had disappeared. I certainly had used it when I did the flowers the day before, but now, it was nowhere to be seen.
My mind quickly went back to the events of previous rats that have come into our flat, and the teeth marks previously left on that bar of soap had only recently disappeared. I began to investigate around the kitchen. The last time, the rat had carried it from the sink across the counter, but had dropped it between the counter and the cooker. I looked in that gap, but no soap. Perhaps this one had made it across the cooker to the other side. I checked that gap. No soap. Maybe it had made it across the next counter and had knocked over the wooden spoons as it headed behind the refrigerator. Well, if it had, the soap was not found in that gap either.
We have screens on our windows, and nothing had been breached. The hole in the wall where the sink drain exits to the outside remained sealed. Where had it come in? And where was it now?
As I studied the room trying to figure out how the thing had gotten in and out with a bar of soap, my gaze fell upon the flower arrangement. My yellow flower was missing. Usually a bloom will wither and then drop off. But there was NO FLOWER. Had the rat taken that as well?
In the recent past, we have had kitchen rat, hall rat, and window rat. But this one must be Houdini rat!
On Sunday night, we put out a round blue cake of poison. It looked rather like a small blue metal scrubby, about an inch in diameter. I made sure all the cupboard doors that would close were closed. No sense making this easy for Houdini. I made sure to close my bedroom door, as I didn’t want any visitors to my bed or my clothes.
Monday morning was a holiday, so I slept in and when I got up, went to investigate. The poison was still there, but had been nibbled. Additionally, the four-legged whatever had urinated across the countertops all the way from the refrigerator to the outside window. It had not touched the banana or the tomato that were sitting out. My previous rats had been very partial to bananas. Needless to say, I cleaned up the leavings, hoping it meant the thing was dying. But where was it? I checked the cupboards. Nothing. I washed down the countertops with bleach water.
Monday night, I again slept with my door firmly shut. I hoped I would get up and find everything as I had left it, which would mean the intruder had left or died. I turned on the light in the kitchen and went to check the cake of poison. It was gone. I did a double take, hardly believing my eyes. I looked on the floor, but no sign of it. The intruder had taken the “whole enchilada”. The only good thing about that, was that sure now it was dead.
Tuesday night, as I was sitting in the living room, I heard noises coming from the kitchen. Maybe this thing wasn’t dead after all. We had not replaced the poison, but I decided maybe I had better keep trying, just to be sure.
Wednesday afternoon as I came back from work, I was looking at my keys and thinking of something else when I nearly ran into the gate. Normally it is against the wall in the daytime, but it had been moved so I nearly ran into it. I caught sight of it just in time to avoid a collision. Then I noticed a paper bag had been left in the grillwork. It contained another tablet of poison, so I carried it in, and in the evening, put the new tablet out for the critter.
Once I went to bed and closed my door, if I had to come out of my room again, I had taken to calling out “Ok, Rat, I’m coming out!” So, on Thursday morning, I worked up my courage and looked to see what had happened. The poison had been nibbled again, and some of the blue specks were scattered around the counter. What did it take to kill this thing/these things?
By this time, the continuing saga on Facebook had quite a following. I was getting lots of suggestions. A Sudanese friend said that there is a story in their family that says rats can hear what you say, so you must not speak loudly when you plan your strategy to catch the rat. She suggested it might also be able to see what is written on Facebook! She suggested using tomato as bait and putting Panadol in the tomato. Panadol is supposed to be poisonous to rats. I fear I may have occasion to test this theory!
Nancy, our house help, comes on Thursdays. So, I met her and explained about the intruder. I asked her to look in the cupboards and particularly behind the refrigerator to see if there was any evidence of a critter. At midday, as I was returning for my lunch, Nancy informed me she had checked everywhere, and there was NO sign of a rat. No calling cards, no soap, no flower, no smell.
Since Thursday night, I have not heard anything and the poison has not been touched. But the mystery remains. How did Houdini get in? How did Houdini get out? Where is the soap? Where is the body?