Service Story #234: The Adventures of Ratty Claws, Episode 2
What do you do when Santa has a senior moment and accidentally drops an unwanted gift down your chimney?
Produced for Mary and Ian of Gresham, Oregon in late December 2020
I’m Wilderness Security Guide, the Environmental Control Operator for Storysold: Pest Control, and this is the story of my service…
In the years our human host Jake performed his duties as an employee of The Pest Control Industry he didn’t once save a squirrel that fell down a chimney.
Now that he’s free to host the business characters he believes to be the best, he’s engaged this squirrelly storyline 4 times. And that’s exactly what he told Mary and her son Ian when he arrived on scene.
“I’m 2 for 3 with this one,” I said as we gathered around Mary’s stove and studied Santa’s Little Lost One. “I got the second one in the trap, but it died before I got there. The last one was here in Gresham. It was a month ago or so, but that was real Christmas miracle. I lowered a live catch trap with some peanuts on a rope, down one of those double 2 story chimneys, and came back the next day. We were all grins when we released our guy back into the lady’s backyard.”
“I tried lassoing him,” Ian explained as he showed me his homemade squirrel wrangling device, “but he kept slipping out of the loop.”
I have to admit. I liked Ian immediately. He had the kind of grit it takes to save squirrels, and I respected that.
As we gathered around the stove I talked through my skillset of save-the-squirrels tricks and quickly realized that I was going to have to try something new. The live catch trap was a few inches too long to fit inside the stove and close the door like the SE Portland job. So I placed it in the open door, and used my environmental control skills to exclude the gaps around the trap.
“This will do nicely!” My eyes beamed a smile at Mary through my COVID mask as I walked back inside with my new action plan. “There’s a reason why I roll around Portland in a rat trap of a van with scraps of expanded aluminum, bungee cords, and salvaged pieces of old ductwork…”
After I set my trap, I rushed off to play catch-up with the rest of my day’s route. As I drove away, I felt a presence I hadn’t felt in a long time. I couldn’t identify the quiet snicker at first…
“What an idiot,” the voice said with a snicker. “I’d like you to note that you’ve never had a call where one of my kind has accidentally fallen down an open chimney. Not ever.”
“Ratty Claws!” I grinned. “Is that you?”
“The One and Only.”
For those of you humans who missed, The Adventures of Ratty Claws, Episode 1 featuring Farmer Racheal, Evanshoe, and Master Freddy, Ratty is a non-deity deity who rules the roof rat wilderdom of N, SE, and NE Portland. Since that episode posted, however, I’ve catch his ratonauts in Milwaukie, Gladstone, and now parts of East Gresham.
“I see you’ve been staying busy these days Guide…” Ratty Claws continued. “…too busy to stop The Action and have a proper dialogue with your old friend Ratty Claws.”
“I know,” I sighed as we all noted Jake’s shaking leg and began to look for a COVID safe restroom. “As you can see..we, the live action characters of .Storysold: Pest Control have been running our human host at max capacity these days. These days, by the time we reach the end of the day’s work scenes, he has no time for proper plotting, character development, or even a few lines of dialogue with Pest Predator or me. That snake in the grass, Bookmaker Jake, has been monopolizing all his down time by feeding his old habit of watching bad action movies on The Fourth Wall.”
“Sounds like a personal problem,” Ratty Claws snickered again. “It can’t be going too poorly with your human. I’ve noticed your team has been able to prop up a number of solid new Homefronts…”
“Yes,” I agreed. “And we’ve been placing our offerings to test you after every ending of every exclusion.”
“That’s all good,” Ratty grinned like Nutcracker’s Old Drosselmayer, “but I’m not here to collect my offerings.”
Storysold: Pest Control (our whole business entity) did our best to process that thought, but we were having serious to major problems finding our human a proper COVID safe bathroom. Eventually we gave up trying to do it right, and prompted our human to dodge into an abandoned church parking lot, grab a Gatorade bottle, and urinate in the back of the van.
Minutes after he released his precious bodily fluids back to the universe, two things happened: 1) Mary called, and 2) I realized why we were dialoguing with Ratty Claws again.
Here’s the series of photos Mary texted:
“I think I Get It now,” I said after we herded Jake back on the road. “You’re here to spread some Christmas cheer.”
“Nailed it!” Old Ratty Claws boomed with laughter. “But what’s the punchline of our joke here?”
“I Get It alright,” I paused, “but I don’t want to be the lame one who explains it.”
“Don’t worry. It’d be my honor,” Ratty replied. “Rats gave up their efforts to fit in…trying to make humans happy a long time ago. I think our last attempt was the movie Willard, featuring the human host who played the father character in Back to The Future. It was a complete box-office flop.”
“OK,” I said, still unwilling to be The Guy that Explains the Joke. “Then explain it.”
Ratty Claws gave his audience a knowing chuckle, and a little “Ho, ho, ho,” and then suddenly steely-eyed he said, “Roof rats would never accidentally fall down an unexcluded chimney, because we’re not idiots. If and when you rat catchers catch us in the heat of The Action…we’re caught, like career criminals, with a full understanding of the consequences.”
“And how is that funny?”
“I don’t know,” Ratty said coolly. “Why don’t you ask your human ‘Why?’ Humans love to laugh at The Dumb and Dumber creatures who are weaker than they are…Our version of The Village Idiot is that squirrel you just saved.”
“I’m still on the edge of my seat waiting for the punchline…”
“Idiot squirrel suddenly feels a need to nest, sees a warm open hole, and then promptly falls into it,” Ratty Claws laughed like his sides were about to split. “And the humans call someone to save it!”
“Naturally,” I said, still getting it. “What’s wrong with that?”
“No one would ever save us if we fell down a chimney like Santa Clause.”
“Wait a minute!” I smiled like the Grinch. “You said you would never accidentally fall down a chimney. If that’s true, then you would never need someone to rescue you….”
“Oh! come on now Guide,” Ratty sighed. “Indulge me.”
“That’s a tall order Ratty,” I said mustering all my imagination. “If I have it right: you’re saying you want me to laugh at the idiot squirrel that falls down the chimney at the same time you want me to respect you for never falling down chimneys, and then simultaneously open a door to some Future Time Portal where I would feel sympathy, and love, and save you if you too happened to accidentally play the part of the idiot squirrel?”
“Yes,” Ratty Claws replied without missing a beat.
“Seriously?!” I cried as I did my best to keep my human on task.
“Yes, that’s it.”
“That’s the lamest joke ever!”
“Yeah,” Ratty laughed. “We learned it from watching The Fourth Wall of TV with you safe from our rat holes. None of us really Get It when you laugh at all the ‘idiot’ humans on your glowing boxes, but we do our best to fit in…”
It was then that the punchline hit me like a ton of bricks. “And that’s why we save the squirrels and kill the rats,” I said with a satisfied grin. “Your tales are simply a lot less cuter.”
Similar to those many risky, possibly harsh, or wild text/messages to one of your human relations…those last lines were met with 100% pure silence. I read Ratty’s reply like the natural predator I am:
As I read it, it was Ratty’s turn now. We were going to continue to Save The Squirrels!