Service Story #234: The Adventures of Ratty Claws, Episode 2

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:

In a dark enclosed space, it didn’t take Santa’s cute little Lost One to go for the peanuts and spring the trap…

“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!

Service Story #145: Hunting Rats Organically at Home

Service Story #145: Hunting Rats Organically at Home

SOME HUMANS GO HOME TO KIDS, CHORES, AND A DESK FULL OF BILLS. OUR HUMAN HOST AND FARMER EMILY HAVE BILLS TO PAY AND CHICKENS TO FEED WHEN THEY GET HOME, BUT THEY DON’T HAVE KIDS. THEY HAVE RATS AND VOLES TO HUNT IN THE OPEN FIELD…

In the days before STORYSOLD: Pest Control, after our humans’ adventure in Eastern Oregon where Emily became Farmer Emily and Jake learned to hate The Mental Health System, our humans moved to Gresham, Oregon so Emily could play a part in some of the most meaningful programs ever created by bureaucrats.

It’s run by The Generic Thing called “East Multnomah Soil Water and Conservation District”, and they called it, The Headwaters Farm Incubator Program. Patterned off successful local food source productions like Intervale in Vermont, Headwaters is the front line of the front line for protecting our land, water, and local food systems.

Where does our human fit into this picture? For a long time, Jake felt like a Groupie, an adoring, sort of dorky fan of the serious badasses who claim the title of “Local, Organic Farmer.” And being a fan was easy for Jake. Once of his favorite lines about Organic Farmers is, “Local food is the one common good that everyone can agree on. The God-fearing, gun-slinging, end-times preparing folks get local, small scale farming because the power to grow food ranks pretty high on The Strategic Guide to Surviving The Tribulation. And the Granola Crunchers agree with conservation and the importance of developing a sustainable, local food system on principle. It’s a social thing. Like church for people who hate church.”

Farming is not at all like society thinks. It’s not “unskilled labor.” It takes mad skills to be a farmer. Not only complex strategic planning skills, but raw energy sporty skills. It takes brains and brawn, and (in Jake’s humble opinion) Farmer Emily is the Micheal Jordan of Portland’s farm world. Brian and Mary of Wild Roots and Farmer Dan of Flying Coyote are close seconds, but Brian and Mary own a tractor and Dan talks too much to be A #1 Farmer of Portland.

All that’s to say, Jake didn’t fit in that picture at all. He would rather low crawl through a rat infested crawlspace than spend all day bending over to weed and harvest. That was until he found a niche in The Action that he could fill…

It wasn’t like we baited The District into hiring Wilderness Guide to catch rats on the farm. Emily played a role in Headwaters Farm Incubator Program for five years before she graduated and moved her farm to an adjacent property owned by The District, where she leased the land and subleased to other graduates like [Former] Farmer Rick and the always engaging non-English speaking farmers known lovingly as The Russians. Throughout that storyline, we saw the rat holes. We saw the rat droppings in the barn. We listened to the rat stories spun by farmers. But it wasn’t until we took over the on-site caretaker duties formerly dutied by Farmer Rick did we become acutely aware that we were living next to an infestation.

Since the beginning of The Headwaters program, Farmer Rick’s cats had been the only rodent control on the property. Most farmers at Headwaters believed in Mother Nature’s ability to balance the rodent population without any formal system of death-dealing devised by humans. They generally believed in the ragtag band of half-wild farm cats as long as they didn’t piss on the vegetables. They believed in the Great Horned Owls, weasels, coyotes, and hawks that thrived on the property. But, when Farmer Emily and Jake became the caretakers, The District decided to take the wild farm cats off that list. They didn’t want our wild creature friend, Pip the Evergreen Jungle Cat, to kill the songbirds. Which he would, without a doubt. Like a soldier or sportsman, Pip was well fed. He could kill all day everyday, because he didn’t kill to eat.

Like they say, “All an infestation needs to grow is for good rat catchers to do nothing.” We saw the rats running to and from the compost cart at the barn at night. We saw the fresh droppings in the barn. Yet we did nothing, because why? Honestly I think it was a perverse curiosity. How long could a group of organic farms go without developing an equally “organic” poison-free system of rodent control to draw The Magic Line between their crops and all the wild creatures that feed on it.

And we answered that question. Our rough estimate was “six years.” Good job owls! Good job snakes and weasels!

Our role as the official Organic Farm Rat Catcher was triggered by 2 events: a) Brian and Mary registering a formal complaint about the rats in the barn with The District, and b) the day Rowan (Headwaters’ Manager, Visionary, and Patron Saint) turned the compost pile and saw “fifty rats running from it.”

At first we asked Rowan for an official farm title, a honorary role to play in the development of our local food system, in exchange for our killing of the rats, but that didn’t happen. Instead we settled for an hourly wage and the challenge of killing rats in a barn and the open field without the use of rodenticides.

Here’s some highlights of our first epic rat hunt at home (we live next to that barn):

We quickly learned 2 things about farm rats: 1) they don’t give 2 shits about the fancy attractants we put on the triggers of our traps, because they LOVE ORGANIC VEGETABLES and the smart rats (yes smart, not mentally ill) feed on their favorite, familiar, comfort food source like drug addicts; and 2) there were some monsters living in our farm forest that could run through our standard factory made rat traps with the ease of squirrels.

To counter that, we stuffed fresh vegetables/compost (donated by the finest farmers in Portland) in live catch squirrel traps and buried them in the compost cart. This worked very well. Guide almost smiled when Farmer Justin texted us excitedly to report that we’d caught 3 rats at once!

As any rat catcher worth their salt knows, trapping rats without doing something to exclude them and or upend their happy environments is not smart. Our exclusion project at the barn produced one of the coolest “pest devices” Wilderness Guide has ever concocted:

How does one exclude a sliding barn door?

Hunting rats in my own backyard also gave me a chance to do some experimentation. The first “Action Cycler” didn’t do so well, but it spawned a similar chicken feed excluder that worked wonders for Donna in the Couve:

The “open field trapping” at the compost had some memorable moments. Until I finally caught him or her, one of the rats would greet us, at dusk, when I checked my traps. I’ve only met 2 vocal rats; both of which were wild farm rats. The first was my first catch at Headwaters. We named him “Tomato Badass” because he was caught raiding Farmer Emily’s tomatoes in the barn. Tomato Badass “barked” at us. He was definitely not contented by the security of a cage. The guy that greeted us at the compost pile didn’t bark. This rat “grunted” as it ran slowly away from its nest, baiting us to chase. Which we did, if only for a lark. The Grunt was one of our favorites. It was sad to see him go…

The trap that got him was no cheap industry special. It was a steel body trap with 2 springs. It was baited with a peanut and some leafy compost greens. Thanks to traps like this, I was finally nailing larger adult rats….instead of picking off juvenile after juvenile, litter after litter, like most industry rat techs do.

The First Rat Hunt at Home lasted from February to mid June 2020. The barn was the first to clear, sometime in early May. I knew it was clear once I began to catch mice and voles in my exterior traps; and discovered no hits on the free food I stocked in the Volehalla boxes set inside the barn. The compost pile took a while longer. I noticed my traps suddenly went very quiet in mid June, but it wasn’t until Rowan invited a pack of humans with rat hunting terriers to do a hunt on the farm did I know I’d won. The humans and their dogs had a good rep. They boasted that they’d killed as many as 60 rats at a chicken farm in once day! They roamed the farm in search of rats for hours. Rowan even turned the monster compost pile again, but the humans and their pack of employable terriers didn’t find a single rat. Not one.

Naturally, at the end of their hunt, I smiled at the domesticates and said, “Gee, that’s too bad. Maybe you’ll have better luck next time.” I can’t remember the last time I was so happy. It was a major victory. Tame creatures (especially lacky Disney dogs and Pet People) have no business hunting rats anyway. It’s an offense to the honor and wildness of rats.

When we finally nailed an ending to The Great Headwaters Rat Infestation, the final count was 56 rats and 84 mice.

R.I.P. Tomato Badass, Grunt, and The Monster who Rowan claimed “shook the barn” when it hit the barn door as it fled the wrath of the Headwaters Farmers. Your stories will be remembered. That’s what good rat catchers do best.

Service Story #89: The Chicken Loving Neighbor

Service Story #89: The Chicken Loving Neighbor

RATS DON’T RESPECT THE WALLS WE BUILD BETWEEN OUR HOMES. OFTEN ONE NEIGHBOR WILL SUPPLY THE FOOD SOURCE, WHILE THE OTHER SUPPLIES THE NEST. RATS LOVE THIS STORYLINE, BECAUSE THEY KNOW THERE ARE A LOT OF HUMANS WHO DON’T RESPECT THEIR NEIGHBORS…

PRODUCED FOR KIM P. OF SE PORTLAND

My name is Wilderness Security Guide. I’m the environmental control operator for Storysold: Pest Control in charge of rat hunting and exclusion, and this is the story of my service –

The Chicken Loving Neighbor is a classic, reoccurring character in rat stories. I can’t count how many times I delivered the bad news to humans like a doctor diagnosing disease. “Yes sir, I’m afraid it’s true…you have rats.” Only to hear the human say something like, “Well you know, our neighbor has chickens…” and that line is often followed by some kind of commentary about their neighbor’s cleanliness, or hoarding, or some other recognized social vice.

I love chickens. Unlike dogs or cats, they don’t usually service the emotional needs of their owners. Humans don’t subjugate chickens to help them score dates at city parks, overcome their fear of flying, or cope with an illness. Chickens work for a living, supplying their owners with food. I love chickens like their predators love them: for their eggs.

And that’s why I’ve always defended urban chicken owners. Nine times out of ten, I tactfully try to remind our patrons that the rats aren’t living in their neighbor’s crawlspace. I often say things like, “Most of the chicken owners I’ve caught rats for here in SE Portland (or wherever) are very responsible. They don’t leave their chicken food out all day and night for every rat in the neighborhood to feed on. They use timers, feeders, or at least keep an open space at their table to feed a rat catcher if they insist on throwing food at their chickens like Disney farmers.” I’m sympathetic to the Chicken Loving Neighbor. I know The Farm Dream is strong in the humans of Portland. We all want to feed chickens overhand like Laura Ingalls Wilder. I get it. I really do. I’ve never painted the Chicken Loving Neighbor as the villain, until I met this guy…

Permit me to set the scene. The landlord’s name was Kim. She rented a small house across the street from a city park in Woodstock. Kim wasn’t renting to strangers to make big money. She was renting to her younger sister and her fun-loving neohippie friends. The first thing Kim showed me was the basement. It was what they call a “dug out” basement, meaning it had walls but no full concrete, classic basement foundation. To make matters worse, the rats were nesting in between the ceiling joists and access the house through an inaccessible, narrow crawlspace like wilderness void. We could peer into the dark void through openings in the hot water heater/storage room, but the details of the space left a great deal to my imagination. In the small section I could see, I saw the bottom of the shallow footing the house rested on, and 2 rat-sized entry holes leading up to the backyard.

So naturally I asked to inspect the backyard. The story that followed went something like this:

“The house doesn’t have a backyard really,” Kim explained. “My neighbor’s property butts up against our back wall. I think there’s a few feet there that’s mine, but I’m not sure. We need permission to inspect it…”

“You need permission to inspect your backyard?”

“Well yeah,” Kim replied. “The only way to access it is through David’s yard.”

After Kim called her neighbor for permission, she told us the story of David’s chickens. Apparently this wasn’t their first go around about rats. Three years ago, David was feeding his chickens (and the rats in Kim’s house) in a pen that bordered Kim’s property. For whatever reason, somewhere along the way, David decided to stop raising chicken in that pen. But now the chickens were back, living in a small enclosed coop closer to David’s house. And so were the rats…

Kim had already consulted Vector Control. They supplied her with a few rodent boxes stocked with snap traps. They also recommended trenching and excluding along the back of the property to keep the feed-loving rats from burrowing into her basement to nest. She’d already caught at least six rats before I arrived on the scene.

David asked to speak with me when I was done inspecting the back of Kim’s property. I didn’t think anything of it, at first. I stepped onto David’s porch and knocked on his door feeling hopeful of gaining an ally in our fight to send clearer wilderness signals to the rats of SE Portland’s Woodstock neighborhood.

After a few words of greeting, I explained that I’d set some fishing traps under Kim’s ratty rain shield that was, at once, keeping water from flooding into her basement and providing the rats excellent harborage.

[ this is what it looked like after I tore off the torn old black plastic ]

What happened next truly took us by surprise…

“Did you put anything in my backyard that can hurt my pets?” David asked straightaway

“I’m not sure,” I replied thoughtfully. “That depends…”

“Yes, or no!” David barked suddenly. “Did you put anything in my backyard that can hurt my pets?”

“That depends…” I replied again.

We tried to explain, but David cut us off. “It’s a yes, or no answer…”

“I didn’t put any bait poison in your backyard if that’s what you mean?”

“Yes, or no!” the bearded, white, middle-aged man in puffy camouflage plants shot again. “I can’t stand it when guys like you can’t give a straightforward answer to a straightforward question.”

Even Bookmaker, who usually has a smart ass remark locked and loaded most of the time, was shocked by the neighbor’s demands. All I could think to say was the truth. “I’m trying to give a thoughtful answer…”

“Is it yes, or no?” David barked again.

I wasn’t trying to be an Asshole. I honestly had no idea if he thought rat traps, set in the open, were safe for his pets or not. Based on his dialogue, I was thinking “clearly he must rank high on The Psychopath Test,” which is a great book featuring an entire chapter about how much psychopaths love their pets. If he was in fact a psychopath, I definitely wanted to answer that question right. “Yes!” I’d say clear as multiple choice. “100% For sure. Undoubtedly, your cat might feel some kind of curious urge to put its paw in my rat trap…and if that happens it will cause your pet pain…so maybe I should put my traps in protective boxes, or put them somewhere extra safe?”

“Ok,” David agreed when he finally heard what I was saying. “I put traps in my coop all the time…”

And then came The Big But. “But,” David continued to hold his grip on our conversation. “I want you to let me know before you come…a few years ago a guy Kim hired did some work back there…and he trampled all my raspberries.”

Blink, blink. “Don’t worry sir,” I said, feeling like I’d somehow just been transported back to Age 18. “I work hard to do my best at all times for my customers. I will not trample your raspberries.”

One of the blessings and curses of playing our parts in a fully embodied business entity is, every so often, we get strong instinctive feelings. The employees and owners of classic, generic business entries rarely have strong feelings of these kinds, in the moment, because employees and owners are always so preoccupied with running their generically-engineered work programs. Here, the strong feeling we felt awaited until after we left David’s porch and took what social workers call a “self-managed time out” in our work van.

As usual, the feeling began as a sort of irreverent math exercise: 1) neighbor who feeds his chickens like Laura Ingles Wilder six inches from my customer’s foundation; 2) no more than 6 inches of foundational footing anywhere around the home; 3) almost zero access to the footing from the mini-crawlspace in full basement; 4) at least a 3 year history of rats (based on Kim’s last complain to Vector Control); 5) a cement walkway on one side of the house and a driveway on the other that limits access to foundation; 6) a sewer pipe that runs along the driveway directly into the unprotected basement; 7) other rat attractants everywhere in neighbor’s backyard like a bamboo forest, many unused items left outside/junk, raspberries, strawberries, and shrubbery; 8) a city park right across the street; and to top it off: 9) having to play nice with the Chicken Lover.

The strong feeling we felt next could be best described as “every instinct in Storysold: Pest Control’s fully embodied business entity all screaming ‘Hell no!’ at once.” No joke, we were a hair-trigger pull away from walking back into that house and telling Kim, very nicely, that she couldn’t pay us enough money to help her. Or, at least, pull The Classic Orkin Man Move: quote her so high she will tell us “No.” Then if she says “Yes”…set a few glue boards, catch a few rats, and wait patiently for her to cancel the service while we move ever onward “Westward ho!” to hustle the next maiden in crisis on our list.

That would have been the smart move for sure. Instead, I did what we at Storysold: Pest Control do best. We shit canned The Doom on our list and we asked ourselves The Question of Questions

“Will we want to write the story of this service when we reach The End?”

I love that question. The best stories are always performed first. And I was All In the moment I imagined our team sitting down with a beer to write that first scene with David on the front porch. I mean, seriously, most of the time the Chicken-Loving Neighbor is only a nuisance character like Nasty Antsis. How often does the Chicken Lover actually turn out to be a fully infested Asshole?

The answer was yes, we had to see Kim’s service story to The End. It was the scoop of a lifetime/literary gold in the making, and I wanted to be the rat catcher who owned this story with my actions, however it ended. Like a flashy car and a well groomed dog, I wanted this story, so I could bust it out every so often when a customer faces their back fence, peers over dramatically, and whispers the classic line, “My neighbor has chickens.”

That night, in our email proposal to Kim, we penned one of the craziest lines we’ve ever written:

“Hello Kimberly,” it began. “What I propose to sell you is an end to rodent activity in your home, whatever that takes to make happen.”

What followed that heroic line was a long list of actions for a plan that didn’t work. Not that we expected the plan to fall like proceeded widgets into line. Bookmaker reminded us that most seasoned writers know The Action always changes, by some measure, as soon as those words hit The Page. And I reminded him that most earth creatures don’t have the luxury of writing a first, second, or third draft for their Homefronts. If their well laid plans for marking their territorial lines fail as soon as The Action hits The Page, they become food for predators. Death is the final draft on earth.

And so The Line was drawn. What was it going to take to exclude Kim’s home?

WHAT FOLLOWS IS AN IMPERFECT TRANSLATION OF THE LANGUAGE OF ACTION BETWEEN OUR TEAM AND THE CHICKEN LOVING NEIGHBOR’S PET RAT POPULATION:

STORYSOLD (April 28th): remove the DYI black garbage bag rain shield, clean out all the rat hangouts, trench along the back wall deep enough to unearth the tunnels into Kim’s home, patch the entry holes with gravel and concrete, line the trench with hardware cloth, cover the trench with gravel and dirt, rebuild the rain shield with aluminum flashing and concrete blocks (placed high enough to let some air in and make it less of a little manmade wilderness ghetto), and then set a barrage of rat traps under the rain shield all along the back wall. Then I set some fishing traps and food attractants in the uncrawlable crawlspace via the storage room.

[ Ye Old Rat Hole ]

THE RATS: trip traps in crawlspace, get tail caught in Guide’s new big rat trap, and then die in Chicken Lover’s trap next door. David describes us as a “big one” and benevolently offers to let Storysold take credit for it.

STORYSOLD (May 6th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, clear a few dead dumb teens from Kim’s traps we set with birdseed, clear one very dead maggoty adult from storage room (it dragged itself out of the crawlspace, fell 4 feet, and died on the floor of the storage room), inspect Kim’s Homefront, discover that the front of the house is an open highway covered only by bark dust, pack the massive gap with hardware cloth and foam it, patch 2 entry holes on both sides of driveway, exclude the possible roof rat holes we marked on the first service (see below), and reset the traps.

THE RATS: dig out the side of the back trench from under the sidewalk, die in the traps we found there, and dig out the foamed entry hole under pipe leading from street to right of driveway and front door. Escape to freedom, eat trash, and salivate at the smell of the chicken feed David was, at that time, keeping in a stilted coop set closer to his house.

STORYSOLD (May 14th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, hop the fence to minimize chance of trampling beautiful but thorny raspberry bushes, clear the dumb teen rats from the traps, and reset the traps with birdseed and other rat attractants. Then reenforce the exclusion in front with concrete and gravel.

THE RATS: Dig out the back corner near sidewalk again. Die in traps Guide placed there. Escape to freedom. Salivate at the thought that the raspberries will be blooming soon.

STORYSOLD (May 22nd): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, cheer aloud when Guide discovers that the back corner exclusion has held AND she bagged 2 adults and 2 dumb teens, and reset the traps with berry bait attractant, birdseed, peanut butter, and peanuts on the trigger of the new trap.

THE RATS: hang out in between the ceiling joists in basement room closest to driveway (and the sewer pipe coming in from the street), torture nice Neo-hippie renter (and his pet snake) with scampering at night.

STORYSOLD (June 5th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, check traps in uncrawlable crawlspace, puzzle over the fact that none of the traps have been tripped (or any free food taken) since the back corner exclusion has held strong, and then Guide went to check her traps in back and discovered! David had moved the chickens back to the larger coop set less than a foot from Kim’s Homefront. Kim reported that he had, at some point in the distant past, agreed to move them away from that coop to order to keep his pet rat population from burrowing into Kim’s basement.

The first thing Guide said when she saw it was, “Doesn’t he know rats will burrow and nest under the nearest possible rock, tree, or shallow basement footing to their food source! Like sports fans, rats hate having to leave their cosy armchairs, get up, and walk a long way to the way to the fridge to get their beers. The big difference is, sports fans don’t want to miss any of The Action when they’re away from their armchairs, while the rats are afraid of being caught by The Action of neighborhood predators when they leave their nests.”

THE RATS (from the ceiling void inside Kim’s house): sniff, sniff, “smells like chicken feed,” scamper, scamper to the foundation nearest the coop, dig, dig, dig, and dig under the concrete and hardware cloth until they pop from their new bolt hole near the coup, claws outstretched in the rain like Shawshank Redemption, and give thanks to the Chicken Lover for moving the fridge closer to their armchair. Like Momma Rat says, “Always remember, we rats aren’t meant to be caged.”

STORYSOLD (June 19th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, inspect Kim’s Homefront, foam and concrete new holes, reset the traps, and then stand dumbfounded for a long moment watching the chickens like I was watching sports on TV…

“There’s 3 new rat holes around Kim’s home,” Guide reported to our team.

“Yes you will discover that you were mistaken about a great many things young Wilderness Guide,” Bookmaker hissed like the Emperor on Star Wars. “Now witness the rat attracting power of this overfed and fully operational chicken coop.”

THE RATS: scamper, scamper, feed and breed all day long, “Game on!”

STORYSOLD (July 5th): ask David permission to control his rats on Kim’s dime, dig, dig, dig, follow new holes to source, discover large hole under concrete and hardware cloth leading straight into the ceiling joist void that leads to basement bedroom closest to driveway, rip out old Homefront, dig deeper, pour two large buckets of cement in hole, lay new hardware cloth, dump four more buckets of gravel, and then block the 2 of the 3 newly excluded holes with 12+ snap traps (the 3rd new hole reappeared in the middle of the coop).

THE RATS: dig, dig, dig around concrete and through gravel in back corner near sidewalk, die trying to redig the new holes next to the coop, and then settle back to life under the sidewalk.

KIM: Hi. Hope you had a great weekend. We got a big one in one of the traps. He drug himself with the trap out to the street. My neighbor [not David] threw him and the trap away. There might be a chance they are getting in along the cement slab driveway where the downspout is…I’ve hired an inside guy to remove the old insulation and get rid of any rat nests etc. above that basement room. So if that doesn’t get ride of them then I give up. I’ll have the whole freaking house torn down! Lol.

STORYSOLD (July 20th text to Kim): Well you just won 1st prize for most tenacious rat infestation since I started my business. They dug through my gravel and concrete in back next to the bamboo again. The one you found [in front of sidewalk leading to the front yard] was just a bolt hole [from the subterranean sidewalk lair]. I poured more gravel and cement, reset my traps, cleared the 2 you found and one in back next to chickens, and burrow baited the hole you found [in front of sidewalk] and covered it with a bag and dirt. The best news I have is, no new signs of tunneling around the coop. I’ll be back in a week or so for sure…

KIM: Wow! Okay and I feel like this is part when you need to start charging me. How much?

STORYSOLD: Yeah probably, but I did sign on for the duration. Let’s save your money for possible extreme exclusion plans like trying to actually exclude that side walkway ( I thought they would find that a long time ago) and possibly the catio side [with the drain pipe running to the street]. For now I’d like to keep trapping and see what happens next. I’m hooked. I can’t tell if it’s one old wily rat doing all the digging, or some new players who were drawn in by David’s move to, not so brightly, put the chickens back 6inches from your foundation. What is your estimated body count since I started?

KIM: Funny you mentioned David’s location of where the chickens are. A friend told me that’s it’s against city code for them to be closer than 15ft from a residence. Do you think I should call the city vector? They did tell me that after I’d done exclusion work, etc. and I’m still having problems that I should contact them. As for body count? Humm. How many months have you been trapping now and we are getting an average of 4 a week approx…

THE RATS: subterranean sidewalk rats eat bait and die, 2 get caught in basement ceiling void by Kim’s Inside Man’s traps, but no dig, dig, digging of new entry holes.

Two days later, Kim texted to tell us that Vector Control changed their tune. Now, instead of following through, they decided it was likely a broken sewer pipe that’s letting the rats in. Two weeks later, we met Kim

As so it goes with pest control. We rat catchers are master spinners of stories. Mere days into the job, Kim’s Inside Man spun his own story to interpret The Infestation. Not unlike most of the fables spun by industry technicians, the Inside Man’s story lacked the one thing all good stories need: action. He was new on the scene, and he hadn’t engaged The Action in any meaningful way, but he had it all worked out…and now he was selling his story to Kim.

“What is this instinct in human males?” Guide pouted after Kim shared the Inside Man’s theory. “Why do they all feel they can discern the truth, from their armchairs, without engaging The Action? Are they so afraid of rats that they need to make some snap judgement about their natures, almost immediately, to calm their nerves?”

“Let it go Guide,” Pest Predator said quietly. “Nobody cares about tracking The Action anyway. Least of all our paying customers. It doesn’t stay still long enough under their microscopes to matter.”

“I suppose,” Guide agreed through gritted teeth as she began to check the traps around Kim’s Homefront.

“You’re just mad, because you don’t have a solid theory for where they’re running,” Bookmaker chimed in, on cue. “They could be running in from under the street, tunneling and following the sewer line to the basement like the rats in Don’t Feed The Rat Catchers and then tunneling out the back to the coop through the small space afforded them by the joists? Or they could be tunneling in from the street, all along the drain pipe, and then back dooring the basement room through the massive hole you unearthed? Or they could be digging from under the sidewalk, sneaking by all your traps and free food everyday, around the storage room, and then back dooring it to the nest above the basement room…”

“Stop being an Asshole, Bookmaker,” Predator stated flatly. “You’re just trying to make her mad.”

One after the next, every trap Guide checked around the Homefront was tripped, upturned, and empty. Even the 2 peanuts she set securely on her new big-rat-killing body trap and been, somehow, both lifted (straight up) off the trap’s steel pin trigger. It was the first time all of her traps had been run through without anything to show for it.

Then it happened. Not too unlike the strong feeling our fully embodied business felt moments before we decided to begin this service story, Guide felt a sudden urge to stand and peer over the raspberry bushes and read the scene at David’s backyard for clues, signs, anything that made what she was feeling make more sense…

On the other side of the berries and the coop, along the side of the house, Guide spied 2 rat traps sitting unarmed on a trash can. They were just sitting there, unset, in a sea of rats and rat attractants.

Guide’s eyes narrowed as stared at the coddled domesticates clucking in the coop. Then she faced the neighbor’s house, crossed her arms, and whispered under her breath, like a gossip in church, the same worn line she’d heard her customers’ deliver so many times before: “It’s because the neighbor has chickens…”

And now we too can stand at the fence, arm in arm with our good neighbors, and gaze into the Chicken Lover’s yard and know, beyond a shadow of a doubt, why we were suffering a plague of rats.

It’s those got-damned chicken lovers and their raspberries.

THE EPILOGUE

STORYSOLD (August 13th): I was totally wrong about Dan the Inside Man. He’s on it!

KIM: Oh good. That gives me confidence too. I appreciated all the work you did on the outside though.

STORYSOLD: It was a good one alright, and I’m glad I played a part…but I’m going to sign off. You’re in good hands with Dan. Feel free to use the traps I left. I’ll stop by in a couple months or so to collect them.

KIM: Thanks again for everything. I’ll definitely recommend you for anyone looking for pest control.

STORYSOLD: Thanks for the adventure! Good luck with The Chicken Loving Neighbor!

Dan the Inside Man was on it. He tore the basement open so we could see more of it. At first, after Dan and I spent some time hunting for entry holes together, I thought we had finally found our answer…

KIM: So many holes! So many entry points!

No doubt, the light was proof of possible entry. Yet we (I, Kim, and Dan the Inside Man) were not able to find an entry hole large enough, on the outside, to explain this rat story away.

Either the rats had found the perfect dark corner of the home to breach The Magic Line between wilderness and civilization, or we had, in fact, reached The End. The world may never know…

The story now rests in the hands of Kim and Dan the Inside Man.

Service Stories #83, #84, #85: Save the Squirrels! (Part Two)

Service Stories #83, #84, #85: Save the Squirrels! (Part Two)

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ SERVICE STORY (REVIEWED ON THUMBTACK)

Jake was great! Amazing service, incredibly responsive and awesome quality of work. We had a huge project and he approached it with positivity and creativity. I would truly recommend him to anyone. On top of that he had very fair pricing and was really flexible around our schedules. Can’t say enough great things about Storysold. Highly recommend!”

Produced for Yvonne E. of SE Portland

Service Story #83: Total Access in The Tabor Wilderness

As far as gutter line exclusions go, so far I haven’t seen this story’s equal. Yvonne called because she was hearing scratching in the ceiling of her kitchen. After a quick introduction, I popped into the attic space of the cozy little home sandwiched between 82nd and Mt. Tabor.

“Holy Moses! There’s fat gaps of light running all the way around her gutter line!” I thought as I crawled back to the addition over the kitchen. Along the way, I passed squirrel, bird, and roof rat droppings hidden under the new insulation.

It was The Same Old Story, new homeowner in home that had been sort of cleaned, reinsulated, and brushed up, but nobody (not the seller, not the real estate agent, not the home inspector, or the pest inspector) thought to mention anything about the entry holes beaconing all God’s creatures in the Mt. Tabor wilderness to come and play in Yvonne’s attic.

That’s not an exaggeration. Sometimes I wonder if The Industry has some kind of shady anti-exclusion deal with the home inspectors’ union. Then again, the previous exclusion attempt (cheap mosquito netting and foam) looked super old. My guess is, if there’s a conspiracy it runs deep. Dozens of folks: landlords, homeowners, neighbors, and homeowners must have noticed this gap over time (like decades) and nobody had done anything about it. Until now.

No joke. Day one, I made eye contact with the beast in the home it had made above Yvonne’s kitchen. We shared a special moment. It chattered at me. I banged the roof to match its obnoxious behavior. Two weeks later, I spent a day excluding the long gap around the roof with metal flashing. I kept an eye out for my buddy while I worked, but there was no sign of the squirrel anywhere. I even left the entry hole nearest its nest open, just in case.

The last thing I did that day was inspect the attic again. Still no sign of my buddy. So I decided to seal the last entry hole up and call it a day. There was no reason to “wait to make sure it was gone” and milk my customer. I could see the whole attic space, and squirrels aren’t exactly stealthily creatures.

Here’s the dialogue between Yvonne and I after the exclusion was done:

YVONNE: That looks great! Thank you. Just out of curiosity how does the attic get proper ventilation now. I know we have a vent up there but I just realized how much ventilation we must have removed with taking away the mesh. I’m not sure if that’s a common thing you run into or not.

STORYSOLD: Good morning Yvonne! Good question. I’ve never seen any home that planned to have one massive “soffit vent” running 3/4 the way around the edge of the roofline. It seemed to me that the mesh wasn’t planned. It was installed poorly in places where the original builders created a gap when they failed to connect the facing to the sheathing. That leads me to believe the mesh was meant to be exclusion. The back side of your home is a good example of that. No mesh was installed there, because the construction work is good. I imagine if ventilation was an issue, the original builder or some construction guy along the way would have installed soffit vents property…they would have built or installed a frame for the vent and they wouldn’t have used that mesh crap. It’s like door screen or something. Not something anyone would use for a soffit vent. All that said, it wouldn’t take too much to install a few more vents if a professional contractor agrees that the original builders failed to install a proper number of vents in your attic. All I did was put metal flashing where their should have been wood facing. The metal will breathe better than the wood would have if they built it like they did in back.

YVONNE: That’s great. I assumed that was case I just have never dealt with something like this so wanted to check! So the back and front both have wood and the sides just had the crappy mesh?

STORYSOLD: There’s wood all the way around. That’s what the gutters are attached to. The problem was, there was a gap between the wood that holds the gutters and the edge of the roof. In the back, the construction guys did a great job of making the wood flush with the roof. Not so much in the original construction. The mesh was a hack exclusion job…along with all the foam someone tried to use to exclude the massive gaps as well. Critters in attic was clearly an issue for whoever owned your home before you. Cheap landlord with a can of spray foam and a roll of screen door mesh is my guess…I feel like yesterday I corrected a decades old mistake that many many people saw and did not try to fix properly.

YVONNE: I would agree! Thanks for your awesome work

THE END

Service Story #84: Exclusion In Times of Virus

This service story was produced for Ron, a landlord with an old house in NE Portland. Outside of the giant mystery box of 80s porn I found in the attic space, this was a textbook squirrel venting and exclusion service.

Wilderness Corridor #1
Wilderness Corridor #2

I used to be shocked when I found open entry holes like these. I was like, “How could we (as humans) continue to trap and kill raccoons and rats year after year, decade after decade, without sending the simplest of signals…” Now I know that I can knock on almost any home, in any neighborhood, and find at least one open entry hole.

I know it sounds crazy, but somedays I feel like I’m exploring something new called “exclusion.” These entry holes were found under the eves of the dormers. Classic spots.

The real story here was the poor family who lived in the rental. Not only did they encounter a creature eye-to-eye through the vent in the attic room, they had to deal with another known carrier of disease and pestilence: Jake.

I’ve always know I’ve been a vector for novel characters such as Wilderness Security Guide and Pest Predator, but now that our planet was facing a pandemic virus…I was a possible host for that creature too. And the family was as frightened of that invisible viral creature as they were the critter in their attic.

They decided the best plan was to leave (like for the whole day) while I performed my work scene. Honestly, I’ve never felt more like a pest in my life. The male figure in the house texted me the next day to ask if I’d taken my respirator off at any time during the service. It was an usual feeling that dredged up memories of being picked on at school. Yet, at the same time, it was refreshing. Humans need to be reminded that we can be pests too.

All in all, I was thankful I was able to limit my pestilence and nail the ending in 2 services.

Service Story #85: Why Not Birds Too?

⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️⭐️ (reviewed on Thumbtack): “Jake was great to work with. He responded quickly to my request. He was able to do the job by being creative. He sent a follow up email to let me know when he would check back. His rate was very reasonable.” – Kelly A. of SW Portland

Yeah, we know. Humans are incurably hooked on the idea that “Good Guys kill Bad Guys.” It’s the environmental “disease” Guide calls Systemic Death Production Disorder. We also know, every so often, we find a glimmer of a cure in The Action.

Kelly was one of the coworkers and friends Brenden of The Garage Liberation Front sent my way. She had a problem with birds nesting in the eves/vent holes of a large add on bay window thing. Normally, during in a bird service, Guide can access the nest from inside, physically scoop the nest up, and then exclude the entry hole. She knows relocating a nest is often a death sentence for any baby birds, but she supposes it’s better than killing them outright. In any case, we didn’t have that option. The addition didn’t have any access to the attic, so Guide had to come up with a creative solution…

At first she wanted to mark the holes (stuff plastic bags in them) and then return to remark them if the birds pushed them out. She was about to do that, when she suddenly remembered that our truck was stocked with a variety of squirrel venting equipment. Ten or so minutes later, she’d cut one of my one way doors to size and fixed it to the entry hole.

While Guide was up there, she realized that many of the vent holes were compromised by birds. Someone had used the same darned cheap mosquito netting/mesh stuff that was featured in Yvonne’s Service Story #83. A few light pointy pecks of the bird’s beak, and the birds would be back in business…

[ Not actual vent (same model). I put the birdseed lure inside roof void to test for activity ]

Once Guide realized her vent would be pointless unless she, at least, marked the other holes, Guide eyed the storm clouds gathering above us like a salty old sailor–then she said, “I have some expanded aluminum mesh in my truck…If we want the vent to be effective…I really should exclude all these holes now.”

Kelly was all for that idea. After Guide installed her first new vent screen for an example, her husband said, “Oh wow, that looks great! That’s going to add value to our home for sure!”

The actual number is lost to us, but we’d say Guide excluded at least 16 entry holes in less than 2 hours…all before the rain hit. Major victory! It reminded Guide of her days of thru-hiking, hustling to make camp before the storm hit.

And our victory was a true team effort. If Kelly hadn’t been watching the birds and called us when she did, the cute baby birds may have died trapped and separated from their parents. Go team! Wilderness Security Guide can now add a bird-venting-and-exclusion service to her lineup of action!

THE END

Service Story #53: The Heroes of Slumberland, Episode 2 (Hoarders, The Eviction Business, and the American Dream)

Service Story #53: The Heroes of Slumberland, Episode 2 (Hoarders, The Eviction Business, and the American Dream)

THE NAMES OF THE HUMANS IN THIS SERVICE STORY HAVE BEEN CHANGED TO PROTECT THE INNOCENT. ALL PHOTOS ARE DIGITALLY GENERATED TO REPRESENT WHAT THE ACTION WOULD LOOK LIKE IF YOU WERE THERE.

Before Portland was a glimmer in some long forgotten timber baron’s eye, gangs of bedbugs roamed the earth in search of human hosts. They were merciless. They infested the longhouses of the Native Americans. They infested the cabins of the pioneers. They didn’t care if their hosts had red, white, or blue bedsheets; all they wanted from their humans was their willingness to be calm, carry on, and feed them their blood.

The greatest of these mighty gangs was The Heroes of Slumberland. They were the best at what they did, and they prided themselves, like Marines, on being the front line…”First to fight!”…of their epic, endless battle to control the infestation known as “civilization.” Like many earth creatures, The Heroes claim their cause is not only right, but more right than any creature claiming to be “civilized.” They believe they’re right, because they believe our planet is suffering from the singular, uniform, monopolistic infestation known as The Suck. Their long name for it is The Suck of Civilization.

If you’ve ever said, “This sucks!” in reference to your human domestication, then you get The Suck. It’s not meant to be a complicated idea. The only complicated part of The Suck is trying to describe The Whole Monster without sounding like a raving lunatic. We all know the little parts that suck, but the big picture is always, forever illusive.

Good news is, we’re OK with not getting all our facts straight. To hell with “being right.” Life isn’t a test. We’re OK with injecting as much fiction into the truth as we feel The Suck needs to make a least a little sense to you humans. And that’s why you’re going to need to switch off your fact finding test-taking mode and simply accept this fact:

The American Dream isn’t the beacon of hope and hearth you think it is…

For starters, The American Dream was not invented by humans. Some hack named James Adams coined the phrase in 1931 in an effort to sell books and escape a life of labor. In his book The Epic of America, he defined The American Dream as “that dream of a land in which life should be better and richer and fuller for everyone, with opportunity for each according to ability or achievement.”

Words are often an unhelpful way of understanding anything. The Action we know as The American Dream was developed by The Heroes of Slumberland 3.25 centuries before James Adams staked his claim to the ocean of live actions that preceded his moment of literary brilliance.

The action known as The American Dream was first performed by a bedbug named Juice. It happened when she realized that their wilderness infestations achieved more victories (lasted longer) if they piggybacked on the actions of another seemingly unrelated infestation. Humans have many nice politically correct euphemisms for that kind of infestation. If you were a human sitting at your favorite diner wearing a red broad brimmed hat drinking tea with your friends who also enjoyed wearing red hats, you might call this kind of infestation a “collection.” If you were a celebrity (or eccentric) living on a hill with your dogs, you might call it “stuff in garage,” or “stuff in attic,” or “old sports stuff.” If you were hard working, God-fearing man, you might call the same phenomena “prepping,” or more specifically “End Times preparations.” And if you were an old Arthurian king you might call it “treasure,” or “riches,” or maybe even “plunder.”

The not so nice term for that kind of infestation is “hoard,” which is the same term our friends the dwarves and dragons use. Hoard is the human slang slur for the same normal “collection” the Red Hat Ladies sit atop everyday. When the hoard is bad (and not a good hoard) humans often label the hoarding action as a “phycological disorder,” which is the modern equivalent hosting an evil spirit. Like a spirit, a disorder is something immaterial you humans can only understand (or comprehend) with the help of a professional hoarding technician.

In any case, there was a long time in human history where The Heroes of Slumberland didn’t run across a lot of hoards, or hoarders. So much so, one of the old nicknames for bedbugs was “crimson ramblers,” because they were known to feast on royal blood. It wasn’t until circa The Industrial Revolution, The Heroes began to encounter more human hoards more often. It was like when humans discovered bronze and suddenly it was The Bronze Age everywhere. Suddenly hoards and hoarders were everywhere.

Juice wasn’t a phycologist. She didn’t know why humans suddenly began to hoard more than they did centuries before. All she knew was…if she could infest a human territory packed wall to ceiling with a hoard, then the humans would have to nail endings to 2 infestations instead of 1.

No this isn’t a Disney story. Bedbugs are bugs. They aren’t smart like humans. It was just simple math. Two infestations are harder to hunt down and end than one. And three is harder than two.

Since her groundbreaking discovery, there’s been 223.5 Juices (Juice 154.5 was squashed by a quick handed insomniac seconds after he claimed the name). The protocol for claiming the name “Juice” was not like human protocols, which require never-ending levels and constant suppressive discipline to enforce, all the bug had to do was perform The Action, play the character, and be Juice. And they performed that action by targeting humans will hoards. Meaning, the fittest bedbugs (Heroes of Slumberland) were the ones who could find the one, or two hoarder in a dark crowded theater, or bus with non-plastic seats (like Greyhound), or hotel in a favorite tourist destination (like Disneyland), and ride home with them; instead of hitchhiking home with a Buddhist minimalist monk with no stuff to hole up in.

The trick to becoming Juice was the super economic/unprofitable power of knowing instantly if a human was a hoarder, or not. Many speculative theories abound. No one (not even The Heroes themselves) agree on how this is done. It used to be easy. Back before The Hoarding Age, all a Hero had to do was catch a whiff of perfume. Only wealthy hoarders were able to afford such luxurious cures. Large disorganized purses full of stuff and bulging brief cases were also once a big tip off. Now days, many Heroes follow The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hoarders, which promotes the “hoarding center theory.” Very simply, it states that the fittest/most Darwinian way to hitchhike home with a hoarder is hanging out at hoarding centers.

For example, if you’re a “Low Brow Hero” you’d hang out at thrift stores. Economically challenged hoarders love Goodwills, Salvation Army stores, Deseret Industries, and old Portland favorites like The Red, White, and Blue. And if you’re a “Street Hero,” you’d hang out at apartment store dumpsters (in the cold and wet) waiting for the Trash Marauders to appear, like clockwork, with their bikes and wagons and carts full of random crap, each item peddled laboriously from street to street because each item in the hoard has a special place in their hearts. Every prop has a value, fills a need, and plays an irreplaceable part in the unfolding stories of their lives. If only for the classic reason, “I paid good money for it.” Once the payment/blood sacrifice has been made, it’s abhorrent for any hoarder to believe it had no meaning. Thus the collection continues to be collected, because the base action (the act of amassing stuff) has no meaning or part to play in the grand unfolding story. It’s pure infestation, but no professional hoarder will ever admit that. All the payments, sacrifices, and decisions they made in life have meaning, especially the old childhood train set.

Just because the prop is clearly an inactive part of the story that doesn’t mean it will never play a part in it again. All props have a place on the stage. Active or inactive, there’s a special place (a heavenly wormhole void of time and space) in the human mind where all the jangled pieces fit together. We call it the “magical mystery hoard hole.”

The Hitchhiker’s Guide to Hoarders “High Brow Hero” theories are simpler (less infested with words). High Brow Heroes are advised to hang out at Ikea, or target humans with strict, borderline OCD routines.

Hoarding is an extreme sport. Rich hoarders spread their hoards full of eccentric inactive props out in massive, precisely organized spaces that only become horrifying if they were able to be viewed in full; like, for example, if we could stage the hoard in the center of a football field and view it. Poor hoarders, on the other hand, are limited economically. They don’t have the resources to rent another storage locker, garage, or second house to spread their hoard out. Sometimes all they have is a shopping cart. That’s one of the most interesting things about what we’re going to call, Inactive Prop Collection Disorder. When humans view a shopping cart mismatched with random stuff in full, they’re horrified. “In what possible story would all that crap make sense?” they wonder to themselves. “Who needs 5 broken computers, 2 dolls, and a book on housewarming etiquette from the 50s?” How can all that stuff possibly hold value?

We, the live action characters of earth, love this visual human reaction. It betrays the deep, hardcore fact that good or bad stories (time itself) are the only sane way to measure value. And hoards, when seen in full, are instantly seen as undesirable stories cobbled together without any action to connect the mass of unused props.

Thus Juice becomes Juice when he, she, or they feed on a human hoarder who fits that definition. All the great serious literary authors of our modern civilization have long heralded the death of The American Dream, but we know better. What is The American Dream if not the massing of props for stories that never see the light of action? Even the humans who claim to have put The American Dream in action are still often great collectors of mismatched people, places, and things.

A bedbugs greatest fear is going home with a human who knows where all their props fit on the planetary stage, and they use them on a regular basis to support The Action of their story. A human like that is almost invincible to bedbug infestations. Or any infestation for that matter..be that internal infestations (like singular action addictions) or environmental ones like neglecting the needs of one’s home territory (ie. Entry Hole Disorder).

The Heroes of Slumberland love to boast. They will feast and drink the blood of humans, and then lounge around their jidey-holes boasting about how they were able to “trigger The American Dream” and sedate their human hosts enough to develop hoarding actions. But we know that’s all bullshit. Classic novelists, TV binge show writers, and video game developers are, by far, more skilled at triggering the hoarding action in humans than bedbugs. Figurehead characters such as those have perfected the art of anti-inspiration inspiration; the production and maintenance of what we call “The Fourth Wall,” or generic stories that sedate humans instead of inspiring them to control The Action of their lives.

At best, bedbugs are like most of us: great riders, breakers, and benders of infestations. Juice 223.5 likes to boast that she developed the infestations at The Humble Apartments in SE Portland, but we know that’s not true. She just got lucky (struck dragon’s gold) when she hitched a ride with one of its tenants many years ago.

And that’s where The Action of our service story begins. Our human receptionist at Storysold: Pest Control received a message on Thumbtack from the building’s landlord. He said 2 of his units might have bedbugs. He asked if we would inspect the units and give him a quote. We agreed, and triggered The Pest Predator for the job.

A few days later, we met the Humble Apartment’s live-in manager. After Predator did a quick inspection and found bedbugs in his tiny, one room unit, Manager filled us in. Or at least gave us a good beginning for our story. Apparently, the property management company’s first response when they heard the word “bedbug” was to inform the Manager that he was responsible for killing the bugs because he brought them in. The Manager was a savvy youth (and amazing cartoonist) who respectfully reported that, in Oregon, if more than one unit was infested with the same pest it’s the Landlord’s responsibility to provide their tenants with a healthy living environment. No battle ensued. The property managers and Landlord agreed to pay someone to kill the bugs. Manager also told us that we weren’t the first company in line. Another fairly well know local company had already inspected and given a quote.

“So why are we here?” we thought As One Flesh. “Why wasn’t the other company already killing bugs?”

Then we walked from Manager’s tiny unit, across the tiny hallway, and met his neighbor. Predator liked the guy almost immediately. Gruff, but warm and friendly. He reminded us of Bookmaker’s old character Bob/Gunny G, a classic tough guy xenophobic front shielding a heart of gold, willing to do anything to help a good cause.

As we let Bookmaker paddle on, getting to know the character we’re going to slander as “Hoarder #1,” Predator was taking stock of he human’s hoard.

“Juice!!’ Predator suddenly screamed a silent inner scream only the character kind can detect. “I know you’re here my old nemesis…reveal yourself to me!”

After a few more silent screams, Predator heard a mocking chuckle rise from the human’s closet that was packed, top to bottom, with treasures. “Yes, it is I…” Juice.224 finally replied. “You’re looking trimmer than last we met. Is Bookmaker on another Adventure in Sobriety?”

“Yeah,” Predator replied. “Beer’s hell on our human’s waistline.”

“You should be thankful you’re not being hosted by a bloated corporate human. There’s no end to the walls and waistlines of some corporate characters. Warehouses as far as the eye can see…all stocked with treasures.”

“You should know better than to buddy talk me, ‘Buddy.’ You know why I’m here.”

“Same old Predator,” Juice chuckled. “All action, no foreplay. 110% sociopathic human hater.”

“I’m not a sociopath. I like a few humans…here and there.”

“You can’t fool me. You’re like Bookmaker. You like trained humans like humans like trained dogs. And that’s not the same as liking wild humans. Not by a long shot.”

“What do you know about wild humans?” Predator laughed. “You’re a Hero of Slumberland. You prefer all your humans to make their actions nice and routine…domestic as pets.”

“Oh yeah?” Juice shot back, finally emerging from a crack in the wall. “At least all I do is suck their blood!”

Predator prompted his human to tear a strip of duct tape from the roll on his arm, reach up to the bedbug emerging from the crack, and pluck it from existence. “What’s worse than feeding on human blood?” Predator asked, knowing all too well what Juice would say. All live action characters (creatures of the character kind) know the ruling king currency of our planet isn’t gold, stuff, or blood. It’s The Action.

Another bug emerged from the crack and said, “All we do is suck their blood…you suck their hearts, minds, and souls.”

“Oh please!” Predator roared. “You know your infestation controls the actions of this poor human. The difference between us Juice, is our team doesn’t use The Fear to control Jake. He can kill us off anytime he wishes.”

“Well, our human kills us everyday…”

“Not the same,” Predator stated flatly. “You know your guy only kills your insect hosts everyday. He doesn’t have even the faintest control of The Slumberland Infestation you’ve developed to pacify him.”

Predator cued the duct-tape killing of three more bugs while Bookmaker continued to chat with Hoarder #1. Every time one of their host bugs died, we could hear Juice laughing like Lord Vader deep in the walls.

Predator paused their banter and took another look around the room. There was only one path through the tiny one room unit, and it appeared (based on the large piece of foam rolled next to the closet) that 2 human were living there. Bookmaker confirmed that fact. Hoarder #1 had a nephew who had been living there as well. Apparently, as the story goes, his nephew was the one responsible for the mountain of dirty and clean clothes piled in the kitchen.

“Nice work,” Predator said finally. “You found a good hoard to hide behind here, bug.”

“Oh we’re very happy here,” Juice laughed. “We’ve been here for more than 2 years…”

“2 years!!!” Predator almost choked on the words.

“To be fair to our human host…he really isn’t a classic hoarder. You’ll find that you won’t be able to trigger an emotion response from Our Guy when you separate him from a piece of his hoard. He’s more like a messy person living in a tiny apartment with his nephew, who he helps because he’s a Classic Tough Guy With a Heart of Gold. He’s not a true hoarder…the kind of guy who cries and throws a tantrum and wants to die when someone scratches his sports car, or a sudden drop in the price of of his stocks, or diverse, forces him to sell half his hoard.”

“Not a true hoarder huh…” Predator pondered thoughtfully. “Then why are you here?”

“Just you wait and see,” Juice laughed. “Just you wait and see!”

That night, we presented our acton plan to Landlord. Our pitch was simple. Bookmaker explained to Landlord that most companies who claim the ancient and honorific title of “bedbug destroyers,” aren’t capable of exterminating a dual hoard/bug infestation because they don’t actively hunt bedbugs. The Action usually flows something like this: a) company issues a long, jangled preparation list to the said Hoarder; b) said Hoarder doesn’t have a friend with a truck, or saving to hire a fake friend with a truck, or the physical ability to empty all their dressers, launder and bag all their clothes, put the bags in kitchen or bathroom, pull all their furniture a foot from the walls, and do The Hokey Hokey and turn themselves around; c) and then, when the inevitable happens and the said Hoarder fails to comply, they’re evicted on the grounds of health reasons. Usually the pitch swings the other way. The pest control company explains that “health concerns” can be a blessing, or an “eviction warp zone” (for you millennials), which frees the landlord from the usual long, drawn out process of riding themselves of a hoarder. We know this extremely lucrative storyline between landlords and pest control companies as The Eviction Business, and it’s usually pitched and sold with a lot of well worn one liners, quips, and odes to responsibility and tough love. The tenants who are usually targeted by the Tough Lovers of The Eviction Business aren’t always true Hoarders; like the characters who will bomb or burn a village down if you steal their gold, or harm their economy. Other characters include Single Parent, Low Income Working Parent, Disabled Non Worker, Elderly, and Messy Adult, all the humans hosted characters who, for a range of reasons, can’t keep their piles of clothes, toys, books, and stuff from piling into hoards.

We, on the other hand, pitched Landlord a fairly radical action plan. We told him that the only effective way to kill off Juice and the other Heroes of Slumberland who had piggly backed on a hoarding singularity to hide behind was to hunt and end both infestations at the same time. We called it a “harborage removal service” (like it was one of Guide’s environmental controls) even though it was, clearly, a Hoarder character control service. And we kept our prices low enough for both services to make it make sense. “After all,” Jake said on the phone. “Even if you evict them, you’ll still have to pay someone to haul all that junk away. And you know they’ll charge extra for hauling bedbug infested junk.”

The radical part of that plan we liked the most was the part where we, the pest control operator, amped up The Action of their services with real work. For too long, pest control operators have profited by playing The Authority Figure character, who tells tenants and homeowners what to do, but they won’t lift a finger (even for a price) to fix the rat holes, move the carpenter ant infested old wood, or help an overwhelmed tenant sort and throw away their bedbug infested stuff. Operators like to think of themselves like soldiers with spray guns who’s job it is pull the trigger and kill the Bad Guys. They prefer to leave the food growing, wall building, homemaking hard work to the poor townsfolk. Watch any action movie, it’s always the non-hero supporting cast types who build the walls and traps to prepare for the villains arrival while the Hero sits back and supervises the work, watching and waiting like a bedbug for the right time to “bite” the Bad Guys.

A week later, we were standing in the middle of The Hoard putting our action plan to work.

“What do you think?” Predator asked as he held up an old leather jacket to show Hoarder #1 the bugs crawling on it. “Should we try to save it, or toss it?”

Pausing, “chin to mouth,” Hoarder #1 said, “Hum…I don’t know…that’s a nice jacket.”

Over a hundred items later, each discernibly placed in either “the shit can” or a bag for laundry or storage, we finally cleared the epicenter of The Infestation:

Aside from removing enough harborage to spray the epicenter, the goal was also to install a new boxspring and mattress for my new friend Hoarder #1. It took some convincing, but Landlord had agreed to pay for it. “If we can remove his infested mattress and box spring,” Predator explained to Landlord on the phone. “You’ll be killing enough bedbugs in the removal process to save us at least one service.” Not only was the mattress and box spring infested inside and out, it was worn well beyond its expiration date. If it was a pair of old shoes, it would have had holes in it all its toes.

[ Note the plastic along the wall in the background of that photo. That’s a clever DYI pest control device. The bugs get caught behind the plastic on their way to their host, where the host can kill them like soldiers on an open field with ease. ]

During the first hunt at The Humble Apartments, Predator removed an entire pickup full of infested stuff and harborage, including Hoarder #1’s mattress and boxspring and Manager’s homemade bed frame. Two weeks later, Predator packed our humans truck “Ranger Jane” full again. The service featured the removal of Hoarder #1’s infested entertainment center and dresser. Predator shared a moment with Manager when he asked if he’d help him move the massive dresser down to the truck. Most humans (very nearly 100%) would have freaked out at the thought of lifting and moving a dresser, facing live bedbugs inches from your face, but not Manager. He didn’t even flinch. When they were done, Predator wanted to share his warm feelings with Manger, so he gave Manager a “mind hug” shared between two consenting live acton characters. As Predator’s fond of saying, “Physical contact is overrated.” A good action is never wasted, in or out.

Long story short, in 3 killer bedbug hunts Predator was able to eradicate all of the bugs in Manager’s apartment and clear enough of The Hoard to do a proper chemical application: baseboards, under bed frame, inside epicenter closet, and even the baseboards behind the mountain of clothes, which had been sorted, (mostly) washed and dried, and relocated in a truck full of storage bins that Predator bought on sale at Freddy’s before The Virus hit. Turns out, that was a good thing to buy. A few months later, Farmer Emily discovered that bins had become a hot commodity, out of stock and pricy.

All the signs were looking good, until we got an email from Landlord. The word was out. The Humble Apartment had another “hoarder” and he had bedbugs too. Manger had already described this tenant, saying, “We have sort of a hands off policy here. You know, as long as the rent gets paid…” Through the meandering process of piecing a coherent and accurate story together, we learned that Hoarder #1 and Hoarder #2 were both in their late fifties/early sixties and they had both lived in The Humble for more than twenty years.

No doubt, this wasn’t their first rodeo. Before Predator knocked on Hoarder #2’s door to do his inspection, Bookmaker drew a horrifying mental picture to harass him. The picture showed a progression of all the characters who had played in the same scene, and knocked on the same door, prepared to do battle with the dreaded Hoarder. First was the parent who screamed “clean up your room!” followed by the teacher who scolded “organize your desk!” followed by the supervisor who calmly (through gritted teeth) asked “please clean your work van.” Next in line was the social worker armed with star chart trackers, legal drugs, and The Latest Theory who was determined to return the hoarding infestation to the routine rules and orders of civilization. Clearly all of them had failed, and Predator was just the newest sucker to saunter to the mouth of the cave and raise his shiny sword to face The Hoard.

Predator’s response was classic Predator. “Fuck all that,” he shot back. “I’m only here to hunt the bugs.”

“Hello?” Hoarder #2 answered the door like a question.

After a few minutes of introduction and routine questions about the bugs, we finally opened the door enough to see The Hoard in full. The small 3×3 space where the door swung open was the only space not filled floor to ceiling with stuff. No walkway to the back room. No space to access the kitchen. No living room to sit, kick off the shoes, and relax after a long day of work with a beer and bad TV.

“I have to ask…” Predator asked. “Where do you sleep?”

Hoarder #2 pointed to the foam pad teetering at the top of his most immediate pile. Predator knelt down and took a closer look at the sleeping area just inside the door. He saw the diatomaceous earth and the spotting/bedbug droppings on the newspaper bags all around. “Nightmare scenario” didn’t begin to describe it.

Like cowards, we fled from that scene as quickly as we could…offering safety advice about the health hazards of inhaling bug killing dust as the the door closed, once again, on The Hoard.

At first we rejected the job, sighting the fact that (even if we wanted to do it) we couldn’t move The Hoard with only one human host employed on our payroll. Wilderness Guide, Bookmaker, and our receptionist Jake all remembered our recent misadventures with our human’s late, great, hoarding uncle “Just Jim,” which had been digested throughly in our first live action novel, The Rise and Fall of The Novel Corporation. It was Predator who stood alone.

“I started to hunt this infestation,” Predator cried aloud like a Viking in town square. “And I will not back down!”

It was more than Predator’s need to win victories than dragged us into the cave with him. We knew our teammate like we knew ourselves, and we knew he needed, more than any of us, to finish what he started. He needed to hunt like our human needed chips, pizza, and beer. It was Guide who threw her live action vote first.

“I can use a break from breathing insulation in crawlspaces,” Guide replied. “Let’s do this.”

We all turned our attention to Bookmaker. He was already on the couch eating pizza and watching his favorite action simulation on The Fourth Wall. It was the part of The Wall called Vikings on Hulu. At the end of 3 action packed episodes, he turned to our team. “You know,” he began rhetorically as usual. “Wouldn’t it be awesome to send a big ‘fuck you’ to those industry assholes in The Eviction Business by showing them a better way to hunt Juice?”

“Yes,” Guide smiled. “That would be awesome.”

The next day, we pitched Landlord an insanely low price to hopefully keep his interest through the whole ordeal. A few days later, we were once again standing at the mouth of The Hoard. We carried no tanks full of pesticide, or fancy dust, or some stupid bug killing program designed in The Industry’s Bug Lab. All we had was a big roll of plastic bags and Ranger Jane (our human’s beat up old truck) ready for action on the street outside. Our first goal was to get Hoarder #2 off the ground, away from the front door (where the infestation could…and did…spread easily to his neighbors), and sleeping in a bed. That way Juice and all the other Heroes of Slumberland would have to climb the bed to reach their host. As it stood, Juice could hide anywhere, in anything, within a few feet of their host’s sleeping area on the floor. In warfare, general’s refer to this classic strategy as “picking the terrain.” Predator wanted Juice to follow their host to the edges of a mattress, where he could find them and pluck them off, one by one (if needed), easy as shooting deer in an open meadow.

Each for our own reasons, Storysold: Pest Control liked Hoarder #2. He was a hardworking career temp worker who didn’t have a set schedule, a freedom most employees take for granted. He waited for The Call from his agency everyday. When it came in, he took the bus to work, worked his shift, and returned to wait again. He had a radio, but no TV. He clearly didn’t drink to excess or do drugs. He was interested in nutrition, eating right, and remembered fondly his younger days when he once biked from Seattle to Portland in some kind of event. He had the usual loner habit of monologuing, which didn’t bother any of us except Bookmaker who is, of course, also an epic monologuer. But Bookmaker let that one roll off him, because he was genuinely in awe of Hoarder #2’s storytelling powers.

“What about this?” we’d say, holding an item up from The Hoard. “Can this go?”

Every item we held up was a precious part of his creation. The kitchen was buried, but the pot we held up was the perfect pot to cook his favorite dish when he got more organized. And so on.

Predator identified it immediately. It was The American Dream in action. The Hoard was built on an interconnected web of “some day” dreams. Some day you’ll use those skis again. Some day you’ll need that box full of lawn games when you invite your friends over for a backyard barbecue. Some day you’ll use that tool in your garage to build a shed to store all your tools in the backyard. Some day The End days will come and you’ll need a AR-15 with a sniper scope. No doubt, this was Juice’s doing. When the Heroes of Slumberland weren’t busy sucking human blood, they were building Slumberland (aka The Fourth Wall) and stocking it full of action less dreams that have less than zero chance of becoming true.

After two full truck loads to the Metro Transfer Station (and a last pre-quarantine lunch at Subway), we were really beginning to enjoy the rhythm of sorting through The Hoard, discovering little pockets of bugs, sealing them in bags, and then making our runs to the dump. We talked a lot about our childhoods, our human’s old Marine character, and sharing the best of our work stories. Hoarder #2 had some good ones. Like the time his boss from the Oregonian tossed 50 gallons of a flammable printing substance away and ended up setting the dump on fire.

As we sorted and inspected, I discovered that The Hoard had a few familiar American dream themes: 1) bike gear 2) travel magazines 3) cooking 4) flashlights, 2) shopping bags (reusable and paper), 3) daily newspapers, 4) Terry cloth towels, and 5) porn. Lots and lots of good old fashioned porn.

“How disgusting!” Guide protested. “Porn objectifies women…”

“At least it’s not another Precious Moments collection,” Bookmaker laughed.

Wilderness Guide took her usual position on The High Ground. “No crimes are ever committed by characters who objectify happy childhood memories.”

“Oh contraire!” Bookmaker laughed again. “Why do you think Shrinks are so obsessed with unlocking the childhood memories of their patients? At least, in most case, porn leads to some sort of pleasurable action.”

“And I suppose objectifying Precious Moments makes our hosts miserable?”

“Are you kidding?” Bookmaker rolled with laughter. “The Fourth Wall is like 65.3% built with nostalgia for youthful days of Drive Ins, Milkshakes, and Sweetheart Kisses on the Cheek. At least they try to censure sex fiction.”

Then suddenly, out of the blue, Predator turned to his team and said, “Ok, I need to say something to the team…”

“Well then, say it!” Bookmaker mocked.

“In private,” Predator said, as he prompted our human to drop his bag of hoard and walk away. A moment later, on the sidewalk outside The Humble Apartments, Predator let us have it. “We’re not here to play psychotherapist…and try to figure out The Hoard like it was a got-damed math equation!” he shouted like a drill instructor. “Standing apart, figuring out stupid nonsense isn’t going to help us end this infestation!”

We had no reply for that. Predator was right. In The End, The Action is all that matters. So we stopped trying to figure out The Hoard (and its collective core of porn) and put our better characteristics to work.

1,250 pounds of hoard later, Juice’s human host was off the floor sleeping in a bed we made for him. The window shown in the photo below was literally the light at the end of the tunnel we burrowed through The Hoard with a lot of hard work, iron wills, and a lot of patience and humor >

And yes, you can use glue boards to catch bedbugs…

At the infestation’s peak, we were active hunting bugs in 4 occupied units, 2 vacant units, 2 shared bathrooms, 2 storage rooms, and the laundry area. There is so much more to this story; like the part where we waited months waiting for the last of Juice’s hoard-hiders to emerge from the cracks and wall voids and shopping bags; or the part where small pockets of bugs popped up in Hoarder #1’s storage (from the clothes bags of Clothes Mountain he didn’t wash) and migrated to the shared bathrooms; or the part where Hoarder #2 failed to use his new bed and propped it up to make more space; or the adventure we took with Hoarder #1 to his friend’s apartment in a low income high rise in Hollywood to make sure The Infestation wasn’t going to reignite there, and then hitchhike back to his home. Or the part where, no matter what we did, there is still a 75.3% chance that Juice will find their way back to The Humble Apartments. There is so much more to this story, but thanks to our new friends Hoarder #1 and #2, Manger, Landlord, Property Manager, and Hoarder #2’s Neighbor we’re feeling more sensitive than ever to the hoarding of our American Dream.

Today is our second day off in a month, and Storysold: Pest Control would rather not waste any more time recollecting and objectifying the actions of this service story. It’s time to get our human off his ass (go running, or do the dishes, or make dinner for Farmer Emily) do something, anything, before we become a part of our little hoard of literary gold.

And while we’re away, engaged in The Action, we suggest strongly that you imagine this story exactly as we wrote it. Memorize and learn it “by heart” it like all the collections of Precious Moments the teachers teach. Don’t you dare edit it (even by accident), or digest our treasured words in a messy way.

Because there will be a test, and if you fail we will send Predator to shit can your precious hoard too.

Wouldn’t it suck to have to start over from The Beginning? All that hard work and sacrifice lost?

Maybe, maybe not. Maybe that’s just the point of reaching…

THE END

Service Story #24: Hagrid’s Cabin

Service Story #24: Hagrid’s Cabin

PRODUCED FOR ANNA AT HAGRID’S CABIN, AN AIRBNB THAT WE’VE SERVED SINCE AUGUST 21, 2019.

“High on Larch Mt., overlooking The Columbia River that once brought the first invasive humans to Oregon, there stood a cabin so wild and beautiful it broke reality, beyond The Fourth Wall, to that magical place where Lamorians run through the trees looking for gold, wizards battle dragons with sticks, and Rubeus Hagrid the Gentle Gamekeeping Giant sometimes struggles to keep his mouse friends out of his beard…”

I am Wilderness Security Guide, the environmental control operator in charge of rodent services for Storysold: Pest Control. I feel like I should make some kind of apology or disclaimer for the service story you’re about to read, but I’m not. Instead I’m going to be a good teammate and say nice things about this story. I authorized Bookmaker Jake to ghost write it for me, and I hope you enjoy it!

For a few years the lovable star of the Harry Potter series, Rubeus Hagrid, was able to balance his wizardly duties and do his job as gamekeeper too. 

He tried to run missions for Abus Dumbledore, help Harry and his friends when he got in trouble, and still have time to make his nightly rounds in the forest managing the populations of hippogriffs and flobberworms. 

He tried, but his fellow wizards were needy. Villain after villain rose from the pages of their lives like roaches in a Vegas diner, and they all depended on their old buddy Hagrid to stand and fight The Good Fight with them. 

Then one day it happened. The stress of his daily heroism found a name…

He returned to one of his favorite cabins overlooking The Columbia River Gorge after a long day of wizarding, plopped down in his cozy chair, and fell asleep. When he woke he rubbed his eyes and looked down, into his beard, for the first time in months. He couldn’t believe it. There was a small family of mice nesting right under his nose!

“What the..!?” Hagrid exclaimed. “What do you think you’re doing?”

“Nesting,” they replied in unison. 

“Not on my watch you’re not!” he thundered as he rose, shaking the mice from his beard. The family all jumped and ran, scattering in all directions. 

As gamekeeper, it was his job to keep the populations of wild creatures in the forest from becoming a mysterious force few Muggles know anything about. The word Hagrid and his friends use to describe That Thing Creatures Become When They’re Not in Control of Themselves cannot be translated into Muggle, but the closest inaccurate English word is the word “infestation.” The Infestation is that unseen thing a herd, flock, band, pack, tribe, gaggle, or family can become when their population becomes too large to manage, or control, without outside help. The most obvious sign of The Infestation is a lack of conflict (and wildness) within the population, which inspires healthy doses of diversity and balance. Predator free shelter, abundant food, and the creation of a singular population control center, all are signs of the phenomena Hagrid and his wizard friends nicknamed, The Suck.

Hagrid understood the dangers of keeping dangerous pets more than anyone. It got him in trouble more than once. (Remember the dragon egg!) He was very aware that any creature caught in “an infestation spell” loses all control of themselves. Like a bad house cat (or a growing baby dragon), the infestation spell makes its host feel free, almost immortal, like they will never have to worry about food, shelter, or death ever again. They surrender their wildness, responsibility, and control of their actions to the singular, centralized control center of The Infestation. Once they do, they fall into The Suck like a zombie. They live to feed (and feed to live) like a pet, because The Suck has reduced the diverse range of actions the wild creatures were once capable of producing to One Scripted Routine. “More” is the only action The Suck knows, and all it’s energy is hyper-focused on making big, even bigger.

Deep down, Hagrid loved wild creatures: dragons, spiders, and monster dogs, so he didn’t try to trap the mice at first. He tried to cast protection spells on his cabin with his umbrella wand, but it didn’t work. As soon as he cast his first spell, Voldemort countered his spell by opening hidden portals in the walls, under the siding, under the doors, and underground for the mice to enter the cabin. 

To make matters worse, when Hagrid wasn’t in his cabin on Larch Mt., he allowed a few of his favorite Muggle friends to rest and relax there. Few Muggles know this, but he was the first to coin the term “Airbnb.” Hagrid could have asked for their help fighting The Infestation, but he knew Dumbledore would frown on the idea of teaching Muggles the gamekeepers’ magic. 

Luckily, a half-wizard friend of his Anna heard about Hagrid’s troubles on Larch Mt. and flew in her magic van to help. The first thing she did was wait for Hagrid and his friends to leave, and then she had a heart-to-heart with the mice. 

“You’re under Voldemort’s infestation spell,” she spoke in Mouseese. 

“Say what?” the mice laughed. 

“No seriously,” Anna explained. “You need to leave the cabin before you become so well fed and unafraid of predators you lose your wildness forever.” 

“Ha, ha, ha!” the mice laughed louder. “Silly Muggle! We are mice! It’s scientifically impossible for wild mice to lose the wildness of our characters. Any real wizard knows that!”

Anna tried to warn the mice away from The Infestation a few more times, but her word spells had no lasting effect on them. She wasn’t a wild creature, but she was a half wizard…and she knew that most earth creatures are more likely to understand, respect, and respond to action spells.

So she dug deep and began to cast action spells… 

She didn’t know the gamekeepers’ magic, but she knew the Muggle version of gamekeepers’ magic. Humans call the people do who that sort of Muggle magic “pest control operators,” and Anna decided to hire a new nearby company to trap the mice in the cabin and send a clearer message of action she hoped they would understand.

Roughly, translated into mousese, the message Anna wanted to send was “Stay out!”

The new company was calling itself “Storysold: Pest Control.” It was owned and operated by a human named Jake. Unlike other companies, Storysold: Pest Control wasn’t a normal business entity. It didn’t have its own immaterial governing body and or corporate character that hosts the actions of many humans. Storysold: Pest Control is a human: one organic, hand-shakable, flawed and fleshy governing body named Jake who hosts many live action, customer service characters. Hosting many characters helps him stay balanced, in control, wild, and free from the troubles caused by the self infesting, addictive, responsibility sucking super characters that rule most companies. Storysold was founded on the simple fact that a pest control company has to first be able to control itself before it can control anything else.

Day one on the job, Jake brought his whole team of “stage magic” customer service characters along to help Hagrid and Anna battle Voldemont’s infestation spell: Wilderness Security Guide, The Pest Predator, and Bookmaker Jake, but Jake chose Wilderness Security Guide to play the main character for our production of Hagrid’s Cabin. She usually leads all our rodent services with her sharp-eye for tracking The Action, but Predator sometimes takes the lead when she needs the help.

Guide cleared and reset the first company’s old traps, and then he added twice as many in places where he suspected Voldemort had cast his hidden entry portals. Guide doesn’t use anti-coagulant bait poisons like most rodent control operators, because she’s very aware that everything, including poisoned mice, will one day end up on her plate. Besides, it takes skill to use traps. And Guide the one of the best in the business of trapping creatures caught in The Infestation

On our second service to Hagrid’s cabin, Guide cleared seven mice from her traps. Her end game wasn’t to kill mice. She didn’t didn’t see her role as a wild, live action human character to be the primary predator of mice. Like a good, all-American tycoon, she believe in delegation. She considered mice hunting (and digesting) the work of lesser predators like owls, weasels, fox, and hawks. Guide was hunting The InfestationThe Suck itself–and every tripped trap gave her more information about the size, strength, and movement of the unseen, immaterial, super villain she was tracking in The Action of the cabin like a Ghostbuster tracking an unwanted phantasm.

The second customer service character on Jake’s pest control team was The Pest Predator. Predator was much too alien to be a human character. He embraced his weaknesses–traits the humans called Attention Deficit Disorder, Autism, and Bi-Polar Disorder–and transformed them into strengths. Like Guide, he specialized in the finding of entry holes and infestation portals and shutting them down, but unlike his teammate, Predator was gifted with The 2nd Person Perspective, a fierce love/hate relationship with The Action that’s needed for tracking and hunting the mircoworld of insects. While Predator belly crawled every accessible inch of the cabin tracking the microworld for signs of The Dark Lord’s entry portals, Wilderness Guide flew high above The Action and cobbled a working description of The Infestation from her Bird’s Eye Perspective.

One of Guide’s first discoveries was a mouse-sized gap under the door leading up from the basement, which she believed accounted for the activity Hagrid’s guests reported in the kitchen and other places in the cabin. She also found a few large holes that looked like burrows leading from the outside down under the foundation. On her second service she filled them with gravel.  On the  

Predator and Guide have a lot of themes in common, but the one that polarizes them is the use of chemicals, poisons, and pesticides. Pest Predator is our chemical control operator. He believes in the targeted use of chemicals to control bugs and rodents, but Guide does not. She hates using blood thinning anti-coagulant poisons on her mice friends for two reasons: 1) slowly bleeding to death inside over the span of 24 to 48 hours is a cruel way to kill any earth creature, and 2) introducing poison baits to The Food Chain is bad. At best it spoils her owl friends’ meals; at worse it can kill them.

Normally, pest control companies put bait poisons in stations outside homes and businesses to thin rodent populations. It’s by far the most common method of rodent control. Clearly our team needed some way of thinning the rodent population outside Hagrid’s cabin, but how to do that, in the best of all possible ways, was far clear. That’s when, I (Bookmaker Jake) was asked to host an official team meeting for the purpose of writing a new service storyline. My teammates will deny this at every turn, but I’m the real leader here. I’m gifted with The First Person Perspective.

After a long jangled meeting, we finally agreed to put action to the storyline we called, The Volehalla Rodent System. It was already in existence. We used for “open field trapping” at Farmer Emily’s Full Cellar Farm, but our “shelter bait” rodent boxes had yet to be tested for use around home fronts and other human territories. Here’s a brief description of that storyline:

THE VOLEHALLA RODENT SYSTEM: All the voles, field mice, and rats living on your farm or garden know is, “game on.”  Food is everywhere, and their natural predators are eating Science Diet for their urinary track infections. The Master Switch flips and their population explodes. Now, instead of facing predators, they begin to police themselves and form rank structures and hierarchies. No wild creature enjoys being policed by their own (it’s humiliating), so the brave ones—the missionaries, soldiers, and astronauts—explore in hope of a better world. “Oh utopia! Oh heaven! Oh shelter! Oh Portland!” The ratonauts see that dark, unexplored hole in our shelter-bait rodent box and snap! Their ancestors welcome them through the gates of Volehalla.  

It was the first time since Jake began to host Storysold: Pest Control that all three of his customer service characters worked As One Flesh on a single storyline: Predator picked likely rodent runways, Guide trained her owl-like eyes on the foundation searching for portals, Jake followed their advice and installed the Volehalla boxes around the cabin, and I (Bookmaker Jake) inspired the team by stealing glances at the cabin’s beautiful view of The Columbia River Gorge.

The Volehalla Rodent System was an immediate success. The numbers of mice we caught inside dropped as the numbers caught outside increased. In some cases, one box would catch as many as four mice in the five traps set in a row between the holes. We had no way to measure its success against a classic poison bait station system, because the bait stations have no way of tracking how many mice, rats, or small squirrels it kills. Only how much poison has been consumed from the station by some earth creature, which often included ants and slugs.

Based on the advise of Hagrid’s friendly neighbor, we set a few for rats around an unused shed. We only had 4 traps set, and the boxes caught 2 rats in a month.

It was that service, when we cleared the 2nd rat from our trap, the smell of death triggered the presence of a familiar character: Voldemort!

“Looks like you’re really winning Guide!” Voldemort laughed. “No doubt, Anna and Hagrid will be proud of the work your little band of rebel characters are doing here.”

“Band of rebels?” Guide laughed back. “We’re not rebelling against anything. We’re the new norm in pest control, so you better get used to it.”

The Dark Lord flew a few feet higher than Guide’s bird’s eye perch, robbing her of her usual perspective high ground. “Oh sorry about that crack about rebels,” he snickered. “I’ve never read any of The Harry Potter books, so I have to imagine what this Voldemort guy sounds like to you humans. Darth Vader is always a favorite. In my humble opinion, he’s the classic figurehead for the classic human infestation called ’empire.’ Oh how I love to hear those empires grow and go pop!”

“Yeah sure,” Guide said as she panned her perspective out, a few feet further than The Infested Head, like a cat struggling with its human to stay atop its pride. “Whatever you say, wacko.”

“Yes,” he snickered again. “I have to say I love watching you try to battle my infestation with you’re primitive control techniques. You’re no match for the power of my magic.”

“What magic?” Guide replied. “I can track any action on earth, even magic ones.”

“This has been so much fun!” he roared with laughter. “I hate to ruin it by telling you the truth.”

Guide eyed her prey as he once again took The High Ground from her.

“Ok you win. Tell me the truth about what?”

“I’ll make you a deal,” The Dark Lord said, tapping his fingertips together. “If you acknowledge the fact that most heroes are repressives who struggle to share their feelings and emotions with others, and generally fear any real relationship that forces them to break out of their righteous, little, indivisible Truth Castles, I will do my villain thing and share my diabolical plan with you…”

Guide took a quick survey of her teammates. Predator was busy tracking a nearby ant trail, obviously unimpressed by Guide’s banter with The Dark Lord. Bookmaker, on the other hand, was loving every moment of it. He was grinning big like a proud parent, giving Guide two thumbs up.

“Sharing is what grown adults do,” was all Bookmaker had to say on the subject.

“Yeah,” Guide sighed. “I see your point. Villains can be better at communicating than heroes.”

“Not good enough,” he beamed infectiously. “I want you to admit that villains, as a whole, are a lot better at sharing their feelings than heroes. That’s why they always lose. Heroes take the sharing as a sign of weakness, and use it against them. Happens in every Hollywood action movie featuring Bruce Willis, Chuck Norris, Mel Gibson, and The Rock.”

“Leave The Rock out of this!” Guide shot back, suddenly very angry. “I love The Rock.”

Voldemort was cool as a cucumber. “Whatever you say Hero.”

Guide took a long, deep breath and said, “You’re right. Villains as a whole are a lot better at sharing their feelings than heroes.”

When Voldemort heard that he cupped his hands to his mouth and announced, “Did you hear that one Hagrid? How about you Anna? You hired a real villain sympathizer here…next thing you know she’ll be filling your fridge with free-range chicken eggs and organic vegetables!”

“Good one…” Guide said unenthusiastically. “Now it’s your turn.”

“Sorry, I couldn’t help myself…I just wanted to show you how I could spin the drama and use your sharing of feelings against you…you know if I wanted to do so.”

“Get on with it! We have a bedbug hunt in an hour!”

“Ok, ok, keep your feathers on,” he smiled. “I hate to ruin my diabolical plan by sharing it with you, but that’s what we villains do. We self-destruct. Like an infestation that runs out of control.”

“You’re still stalling…” Guide said as she folded her arms and flew higher than before.

“I call my plan, Systemic Death Production Disorder,” Voldemort said, settling into his perspective a few feet below Guide. “I have you all so EXCITED about sending all your wilderness creature friends to Volehalla, you’ve forgotten all about ending my infestation.

Guide was speechless. Truth hurt.

“Keep this up,” The Dark Lord continued, “you’ll be no better than my immortal generic character The Orkin Man. You’ll get rich, one reoccurring monthly service at a time. Embrace it. It’ll be easy. And besides, why would you ever want to end your service to such a beautiful story?”

He had us there. Hagrid’s cabin was a beautiful place to work, but we’d made Hagrid and Anna a promise to hunt and end The Infestation.

Guide sat at the edge of our van, looking glumly into The Wilderness with the smell of the dead rat sill in her nose. She didn’t know what to do. She’d poured gravel in all the holes around the foundation she could find, installed a fancy foam door sweep on the basement door, and excluded all the entry holes she could find around the exterior. Even Predator agreed they’d run out of ideas.

While all this drama was happening outside, Anna and Hagrid were hanging out inside quietly watching The Action. Until now, neither of them had used any magic to help the Muggle owned pest control company they hired to battle The Infestation.

“Do you suppose we should help her?” Hagrid asked as he picked through his beard, looking for signs of mice that were no longer there.

“We should,” she smiled, “but it feels so nice to relax…you know…let the Muggles figure it out for themselves. Like big kids.”

“I hear that!” Hagrid chuckled joyfully. “It has been nice to relax…and stop rushing off to fix every crisis that Harry and his friends get themselves into…”

The two wizards didn’t talk for a nice long while. They shared a few homemade newt head cookies dunked in purple dragon’s milk, and pretended to be like humans and watch a TV show.

“I’m going to do it,” Hagrid said out of The Blue.

“I already did,” Anna grinned and dunked another newt head cookie in her dragon’s milk.

Hagrid looked around, trying to spot Anna’s sly act of magic. Finding nothing out of the ordinary, he looked over at his old friend and asked, “I give up. What did you do?”

“I cast a winter spell,” Anna chuckled. “Guide should discover it anytime now.”

“A winter spell!” Hagrid boomed with joy. “Brilliant!”

Right on cue, when Guide was done falling into The Suck of defeat, she and Predator took another lap around the foundation and saw it. It was a clear rodent tunnel along the edge of the foundation they’d missed the month before, because of a bush had blocked their view.

Anna’s Winter Spell had made all the leaves wither and fall, reveling an entry tunnel leading directly under the foundation!

“Ha!” Guide cried aloud when we found it. “Take that Voldemort!”

The Dark Lord watched at a distance as our team dug out the tunnel, plugged the entry point with foam, and covered the trail with gravel. The portal that had fed The Infestation for so long was now officially CLOSED.

“Drat!” Voldemort cried, feigning defeat. “I should have never shared my diabolical plan with you characters! Alack, alack! Now I shall never win!”

While Predator and Guide worked, basking in the glow of their victory, Bookmaker Jake wondered how a villain could lose with so much flare and intention and still be The Villain. There has to be something we’re missing here, Bookmaker thought to himself. I think that Asshole’s letting us win…but I don’t know why. Is he somehow still winning…and quietly robbing us of our victory?

I can’t be sure. Maybe I imagined it. But I thought I saw The Infestation flicker, fade, and suck back into the immaterial form of Voldemort. Ones and zeroes, The Suck had simply changed vectors. The mice were now no longer the agents of infestation, The Dark Lord had taken the all power of The Infestation into himself like a dragon sucking in oxygen for another fireball.

We felt that The End was near, but we still hadn’t had a service were no mice were caught inside. For a true victory, we needed to clear Hagrid’s beard for good…

Two months later, we were checking the Volehalla boxes behind the shed. It must have just happened. The snake, a beautiful fat red racer, was writhing with its head caught in a rat trap.

Bookmaker was convinced it was Voldemort in the flesh. “Kill it!” he cried in fear.

As usual, I didn’t listen to my teammate. But I too had become convinced that we needed to kill the snake. Not for fear, but for mercy. I was sure the snake wouldn’t survive…

Shovel in hand, I was about to do The Right Thing and “put it out of its misery” when I felt the weight of a familiar giant’s hand rest on our head. Hagrid didn’t say anything. He simply laughed like he was watching a child trying to tie their own shoes for the first time.

I put down the shovel, opened the box, and lifted the bar from the snake’s neck. Then I went about my business.

When we returned at The End of our service, the snake was nowhere to be seen.

It had vanished back into The Wilderness to live another day.

Read Our Reviews

Story Sold Pest Control is rated 5 out of 5.0 stars based on 83 review(s).

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- Jake is great! He was referred to me by a friend and he was thorough, very knowledgeable and put my mind at ease! Thanks for all the help!

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- I contacted Storysold Pest control for mice/rat problems for a rental property. I was very impressed with their website about the process they use to keep out rodents not just catching them and calling it good. They are very professional, explained the process in detail and showed up on time for our appointment. It’s been a week or so since he came out and my tenant hasn’t heard or seen any mice/rats. Jake, the owner is passionate about helping people and very knowledgeable in all aspects of pest control! Don’t waste your time on any other company call him first. Teri C

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- Keith B

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- Abby and Dave

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- Paige and Kris

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- Kammie James

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- Ed Robertson

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Great!!! Next day service, very knowledgeable and trustworthy, affordable. Didn t try to sell me any extra services I didn t need. Would gladly hire again.Great!!! Next day service, very knowledgeable and trustworthy, affordable. Didn t try to sell me any extra services I didn t need. Would gladly hire again.

-  Shelly A.

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Very good

- Larry A

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Jake actually arrived early. He did a good job of removing a large hornet's nest of very aggressive hornets. He will definitely be our first choice on any future pest removal we might need.

- Barbara B.

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Jake went above and beyond of what was asked of him! Will not use anyone else!

-  Ted M

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Jake was extremely respectful and responsive. Came promptly and did a thorough inspection. He gave us options and his honest opinion about what we needed to do. He was very helpful in solving the problem simply and cost effectively! Will definitely call again.

- Michelle C. 

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Came to our home right away and set live traps in our chimneys and made screens for the tops. Returned the next day to find a squirrel in one of the traps. We were very pleased with our results and appreciated the great customer service

- Kathleen

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Friendly, fast and efficient. Very pleased with the service Jake provided

- Joli P.

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Refreshing to work with Jake. He is collaborative and communicative. Great improvement since his visit.

- Seth W

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He's friendly, professional, punctual & extremely affordable. Would hire again & recommend to my friends.

- Max K

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We had a great experience and highly recommend Jake. He is responsive, effective and thoughtful.

-  Eddie B

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Jake at Storysold Pest Control is knowledgeable and professional. He is quick to respond and reasonably priced. I find him to be trustworthy and ethical, he does not sell unnecessary services and he works with customers that are willing to do some of the work themselves as well as with customers who just want the whole service done without being involved themselves. While other companies told me I needed to replace all my insulation and do massive crawl space renovations, he offered several affordable options. With his help we no longer have a mouse problem and it was done at a fraction of what other companies quoted us. I appreciate his flexibility and fun, friendly personality. If I ever have another pest control issue, he will be my first call.

- Darian C.

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- Joyce R

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Jake has been helping me trap rodents at my farm with his Volehalla rodent boxes. He's friendly, knowledgeable, and effective: we've trapped a lot of rodents!

-  Emily C

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Jake was fantastic! Fast response. Reliable and honest. Great rates. Hope not to have any more rodent problems, but if I do I will be calling Jake again. I would recommend him to anybody that needs help with Pest Control.

- Janet D.

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Truly, I can t say enough about this team! They are so professional, trustworthy, and for the very first time in a long time I feel that they aren t here for 1/2 hour only to run off to the next job site! Jake (I believe the owner) told me that their company prefers to have 2 home visits per day over 10!!! I can t say enough them!!!!

- Lori T.

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Working with Storysold was a dream. We had a huge undertaking with almost 40,000 sq ft between two properties! With both buildings being over 100 years old keeping critters out is difficult and the previous tenants of the building allowed a huge infestation to occur. Jake was able to not only eradicate the unwanted pests he also filled holes and cracks and has stopped them from having easy access. Communication was great and the pricing was fair and manageable for our small nonprofit! I will continue to work with Storysold and recommend them for any pest control needs, big or small!

-  Jamie C

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Mouse in the house!!!! I texted Sunday morning after having chased a mouse through the house Saturday all day and Sunday at 3am... they came out to the house by 12:30 that Sunday. Jake got in the crawl space and checked the outside of the house for entry points. While there was no evidence of a major problem, I opt ed for the full attack. He came in with an Arsenal of traps that he placed in the kitchen and crawl space. He didn t hard sell and his prices were very affordable! He was also very honest with potential outcomes which I appreciate. He literally just left and I haven t heard any traps go off but just based on his customer service, I would totes recommend him! He s coming back in a week to check traps. I ve read some horror stories about other companies but I feel very confident that I m working with an upstanding professional. And he s dog friendly!

-  Taaj A.

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Great company.

- Ed S

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A pro. Showed on time. Knew what to do

-  Mike B.

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Jake of StorySold is proficient, affordable, and punctual. He took his time with carefully evaluating my problem, fixed my issue, and did extras like helping me fix my mattress which he treated for bed bugs. Can't recommend him enough and will use him and his company in the future. Got two other quotes which were much higher each quoting at least $1,000 without a guarantee.

- James J. 

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Jake is prompt, skilled, authentic and friendly! I couldn't be happier. I'm so glad that I talked to all three bidders before choosing. Even before he got here, I knew he was the best choice!

-  Linda B. 

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- We’ve struggled with mice in our home for years. Stoysold came out in February of 2020, found the access spots, blocked them, and we haven’t had a single mouse inside in over a year. I highly recommend their service. KH in Sandy, OR

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- Jake was professional, friendly, educational on the process. I would recommend his services to anyone needing a exterminator for insects or rodents.

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- Boann

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- We are so happy with the work Storysold did to fortify our house against unwelcome creatures! They were courteous, efficient, and communicative throughout the process.

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- Jake took care of our unwanted guest (roof rat!) and identified and took care of entry points to prevent future problems. We have been paying for a pest control service for years that we are going to be able to cancel thanks to Jake’s work. He’s very professional and responsive and we highly recommend him! – Mary

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- Dustin

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- Dani Rathke

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- Thorough, effective and reliable. I’ve used other exterminator services that seem more concerned with signing you up for annual contracts than actually solving the rodent issue. This company is the opposite. They care the most about solving the problem, billing customers comes second. I’d highly recommend.

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- Paul

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- Kristy L

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- Darlene Warren

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- Erika Glancy

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Great!!! Next day service, very knowledgeable and trustworthy, affordable. Didn t try to sell me any extra services I didn t need. Would gladly hire again.

- Shelly A.

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Jake actually arrived early. He did a good job of removing a large hornet's nest of very aggressive hornets. He will definitely be our first choice on any future pest removal we might need.

- Barbara B.

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Jake went above and beyond of what was asked of him! Will not use anyone else!

- Ted M.

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Jake was extremely respectful and responsive. Came promptly and did a thorough inspection. He gave us options and his honest opinion about what we needed to do. He was very helpful in solving the problem simply and cost effectively! Will definitely call again.

- Michelle C.

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Friendly, fast and efficient. Very pleased with the service Jake provided

- Joli P.

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He's friendly, professional, punctual & extremely affordable. Would hire again & recommend to my friends.

- Max K.

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Jake at Storysold Pest Control is knowledgeable and professional. He is quick to respond and reasonably priced. I find him to be trustworthy and ethical, he does not sell unnecessary services and he works with customers that are willing to do some of the work themselves as well as with customers who just want the whole service done without being involved themselves. While other companies told me I needed to replace all my insulation and do massive crawl space renovations, he offered several affordable options. With his help we no longer have a mouse problem and it was done at a fraction of what other companies quoted us. I appreciate his flexibility and fun, friendly personality. If I ever have another pest control issue, he will be my first call.

- Darian C.

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Jake has been helping me trap rodents at my farm with his Volehalla rodent boxes. He's friendly, knowledgeable, and effective: we've trapped a lot of rodents!

- Emily C.

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Truly, I can t say enough about this team! They are so professional, trustworthy, and for the very first time in a long time I feel that they aren t here for 1/2 hour only to run off to the next job site! Jake (I believe the owner) told me that their company prefers to have 2 home visits per day over 10!!! I can t say enough them!!!!

- Lori T.

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Amazing! Jake is amazing! He came out because I had a squirrel in my attic. He has a vent he can put in so they can get out but not back in! Theres no trauma to the animal by trapping it and you will save yourself hearing it scream and cry in a trap! He walked around my entire house and attic looking for all entry points. He is very knowledgable and kind and looking to help you exist w wildlife w the option of not euthanizing. Years of experience. I was so pleased q his company I would highly highly recommend him for any of your critter/pest? needs! Thank you Jake!

- Susan K.

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- Loa H.

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We knew we had several openings to our crawl space where rodents were coming in. To come out and give us a quote, Jake was flexible with making an appointment at our convenience. He is personable and professional. We accepted his quote on the spot and he did the work at that time. He was thorough and gave us an excellent report with pictures after he was done. I highly recommend him and will use him again should the need arise.

- Larry a.

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- Paige L.

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Jake was a huge help with our recent rodent adventure. He was a great communicator and his work and knowledge were superb. He was thorough with his assessment of our property and honest with his recommendations. There was no attempt to unnecessarily sell us on any packages, in fact Jake gave us resources to get our situation under control and to maintain that going forward. Will absolutely be calling Jake in the future if the situation arises.

- Graham H.

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Great service and very affordable pricing.

- Humberto Z.

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- Deanna M.

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- Michelle H.

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Jake was very quick, informative. He not only took care of the rodent, but spent time helping to prevent it happening again.

- Em W.

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Excellent job! Jake was wonderful to work with.

- Kathy M.

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Jake went above and beyond. I had tiny ants in my cupboards and on my kitchen floor. He went outside the property and went underneath my condo. Not only did he take care of the ants but took care of a small rodent issue. Charged me exactly what he quoted me. All the extra work he did I thought for sure it would cost more but he stuck to his quote and was very polite, kind and quick.

- Brenda H.

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Jake was great to work with. He responded quickly to my request. He was able to do the job by being creative. He sent a follow up email to let me know when he would check back. His rate was very reasonable.

- Kelly A.

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Jake is really a 10/10 person and it shows in his work. Thankfully we did not have an infestation but his thoroughness, promptness, and overall attitude towards his profession was something that stuck out to me. I will be recommending him to everyone for pest control. I know who I'm calling when I need one!

- Samantha A.

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Amazing! Jake is amazing! He came out because I had a squirrel in my attic. He has a vent he can put in so they can get out but not back in! Theres no trauma to the animal by trapping it and you will save yourself hearing it scream and cry in a trap! He walked around my entire house and attic looking for all entry points. He is very knowledgable and kind and looking to help you exist w wildlife w the option of not euthanizing. Years of experience. I was so pleased q his company I would highly highly recommend him for any of your critter/pest? needs! Thank you Jake!

- Suzan K.

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Went above and beyond my expectations! Would recommend to anyone, knowledgeable and experienced. Thanks again!!

- Jaimie D.

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Jake will give you friendly, personalized, and timely service, and you get the story of the service at the end!

- Emily C.

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Very honest, friendly and informative. Excellent work.

- Terry B.

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Refreshing to work with Jake. He is collaborative and communicative. Great improvement since his visit.

- Seth W

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- Zack C.

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We had a great experience and highly recommend Jake. He is responsive, effective and thoughtful.

- Eddie B.

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Very honest, identified the problem in a remote corner of the property, operated quickly, provided photos of the work done and is coming back to verify the problem has been solved.

- Matteo V.

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Jake was fantastic! Fast response. Reliable and honest. Great rates. Hope not to have any more rodent problems, but if I do I will be calling Jake again. I would recommend him to anybody that needs help with Pest Control.

- Janet D.

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- Taney R.

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Working with Storysold was a dream. We had a huge undertaking with almost 40,000 sq ft between two properties! With both buildings being over 100 years old keeping critters out is difficult and the previous tenants of the building allowed a huge infestation to occur. Jake was able to not only eradicate the unwanted pests he also filled holes and cracks and has stopped them from having easy access. Communication was great and the pricing was fair and manageable for our small nonprofit! I will continue to work with Storysold and recommend them for any pest control needs, big or small!

- Jamie C.

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Came out next day and took care of our wasp nest! Easy to schedule and very responsive. Thank you!

- Jacoba G.

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Mouse in the house!!!! I texted Sunday morning after having chased a mouse through the house Saturday all day and Sunday at 3am... they came out to the house by 12:30 that Sunday. Jake got in the crawl space and checked the outside of the house for entry points. While there was no evidence of a major problem, I opt ed for the full attack. He came in with an Arsenal of traps that he placed in the kitchen and crawl space. He didn t hard sell and his prices were very affordable! He was also very honest with potential outcomes which I appreciate. He literally just left and I haven t heard any traps go off but just based on his customer service, I would totes recommend him! He s coming back in a week to check traps. I ve read some horror stories about other companies but I feel very confident that I m working with an upstanding professional. And he s dog friendly!

- Taaj A.

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Jake was straight forward and was happy to answer all questions. Thank you!

- April B.

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A pro. Showed on time. Knew what to do

- Mike B.

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Did an amazing job fixing some visitors to my crawl space. Sanitized, cleaned, and locked down from future uninvited guests!

- Stephen I.

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Jake of StorySold is proficient, affordable, and punctual. He took his time with carefully evaluating my problem, fixed my issue, and did extras like helping me fix my mattress which he treated for bed bugs. Can't recommend him enough and will use him and his company in the future. Got two other quotes which were much higher each quoting at least $1,000 without a guarantee.

- James J.

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He arrived on time, knew precisely what to do to resolve my problem and completed the job.

- Jeff J.

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Jake is prompt, skilled, authentic and friendly! I couldn't be happier. I'm so glad that I talked to all three bidders before choosing. Even before he got here, I knew he was the best choice!

- Linda B.

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- Jake is amazing

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- Stacie Benefield