We stood in the doorway of the kitchen watching Phyllis eat the mouse. Normally diminutive, she had a wild look now, jowls besmirched and wet. We listened as she chewed, and watched as she gagged-down nearly all of it, leaving just the mouse-face behind, like a mask.
Lily was still in diapers, still in her crib, but old enough to climb out in the middle of the night and piss on the floor. We couldn’t understand why, and actually sought help for it, but resorted to crude methods to try to correct it.
We tried putting her PJ’s on backwards so she couldn’t get them off, but of course she did, and one night, sleep-deprived and rabid, I spanked her as she did it, only to have her look at me in disbelief and terror.
Charlotte was barely two months old, and we’d already been to the ER with one or the other three times in the last three weeks. One of those nights, on the long ride through the rain with everyone screaming, I actually had the thought of driving off the 520 bridge.
We got the movie Ratatouille and watched it in bed. Lily started freaking out though, and once we found the droppings behind her crib, we put two and two together and realized she was afraid of rats because they were getting into her room at night.
The exterminator cited the black, greasy smears on the basement wall, and the fact they liked to move around the perimeter, around the edges. He laid traps in the crawl space, and baited them with a dab of peanut butter.
Sure enough, the next morning I found them there, and carried them out to the alley in a grocery bag. One was missing its head, which wasn’t possible from the trap itself, and only left one other option for removal. It all felt gross.
Fall was coming on, and Dawn’s dad was getting sick. She started smoking again, and that winter we visited him in the hospital over Christmas. We got the floor replaced in Lily’s room before we sold the house, and patched the hole behind the refrigerator, where they were getting in from the basement.
That night with Phyllis and the mouse, Stefan and I went to Dinosaur Jr. and I got thrown out during the encore for slam-dancing. The bouncer tore the shoulder out of the tie-dye we made in Sun River, Idaho, but I felt proud for getting thrown out, like I could be one of the characters from Infinite Jest, and give Stefan something to write about when he got back to Germany.