Never in all my years of rat baiting, poisoning and outright stumping, had I seen such secretions on dead rats.
“Don’t know,” Adunni turned to look at me, a worried look on her face, “Think this must be a reaction to the poison they ate, though I’ve never seen or heard of any substance that could cause this.”
“Neither have I,” I said, but I was sure I felt a twinge of recognition somewhere at the back of my mind. Not being much of the analytic thinker my wife and children are, I did not dwell on it.
I do not recall who suggested we check the rats already collected in the plastic bucket inside, but I recall it was my wife who suggested sending the twins back indoors, away from the excitement, but not before they had thoroughly scrubbed their hands with soap and rinsed it with water.
“Know what,” Adunni said to me as she closed the door behind the protesting twins she had just scolded thoroughly for acting naughty and not shutting up and doing what they were told, “What pains me is not that someone killed off these damn pests, but that that person is calmly watching behind a curtain while I clean the smelly mess.”
I did not respond, not that she expected me to. I know enough about the neighbours to know that the wife was not one to get her manicured nails dirty carrying garbage or smelly rats. Although the petite woman had not been wearing a surgical mask when I spied her earlier, I had expected to find if cupping her face. Without doubt, the stench would have reached their floor—it was that strong. Anyway, my wife insisted she was responsible for the bunch of dead rats thrown from the top floor towards the general direction of the bins. The husband would not be callous enough to not bring the rats down to the garbage, she said.
The husband, a jolly fellow with a taste for flashy cars, was a cyber journalist. Though I worked for myself as a building contractor, I made it a point of duty to leave home at the same time with the blue collars. As such, we ran into each other now and then as we readied our cars for the day. We do not talk about much–sports, a little bit of politics, how exorbitant car parts were getting, and of course, the newest 4X4s.
Anyway, it was on one of those mornings a few days after we had buried the last of the rats that I ran into the neighbour. Like me, he was on his way to work and had left the spiral staircase leading to their flat a few moments after I walked by. I turned at the sound of footsteps behind me to behold his sheepish grin. Why does that guy always appear to be laughing at something?
“Good morning Mr. Dotun,” he said with more enthusiasm than I had ever noticed in him.
“Good morning, Chike,” I responded, not willing to endure his habitual frown at any use of the officious ‘Mr.’ for him.
“Well,” that annoying smile crossed his face again, “we haven’t had the time to thank you for what you did with the rats.”
Despite myself, I felt a touch of anger. Not only was the guy trying to apologise for letting us clean up their mess, he even had the audacity to tell me “we haven’t had the time to thank you.” I bite down my anger and turned to him (yes, I had looked away to hide any tell tale sign).
“No problem Chike, the rats constituted a serious nuisance to us too, it was no bother.” I managed to say this with more civility than I had hoped possible in the circumstance. Anger and its attendant violence are so tedious. So, while the grimy job of finding and burying all the dead vermin was a lot of bother, I did not say so, couldn’t say so. I tend to leave all the heavy lifting to my wife. I am used to it.
We walked together to our cars. Mine was closer. I stood by and watched as the door of his opened on auto as the installed AI responded to his sub-vocalised command. I know I shouldn’t feel envy, but I couldn’t help myself when the cool smell of real leather hit me. Chike’s car was brand new, equipped with auto-nav and full body protective cocoon. It was the type of car the guys in my club were all salivating over. I looked away. I thumbed my remote, and my ever-reliable Tokunbo’s door slide open, silent as a night hunter, a conventional door, unlike Chike’s eagle wing affair. Yes, we did not have the “in vogue” feel of Chike’s Benz, but we are not far off—even if the look was of a third model Toyota Catcher, from five years back. Chai, it is not easy to not envy, not when the thing in question was parked opposite the disused storeroom I call my home office.
I was trying my best not to look back at Chike and his very becoming car interior when his voice forced me to turn again to behold that wonder on wheels, with its wing doors, now extended to their full height, appearing to kiss the skies. “By the way Mr. Dotun,” he began, eager like, “what kind of poison did you guys use? My wife and I had wondered for long whether it is a new variety. It sure doesn’t work like those stocked by rat-keller hawkers.”
I cannot exactly remember what I mumbled to Chike, whatever it was, it must have been satisfying for I recall stepping aside for him to edge past and with a cheerful wave of his hands, drive out of the auto-gate.
They did not apply the poison?
To be continued...
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