“I’m sorry.” I told my upset nineteen-year-old son standing at the edge of my desk. “Losing someone is never easy. Death is the ultimate price of loving.” Seeing the grief in my son’s eyes broke my heart. Seriously, I really did feel bad. However, there was no doubt about it, my son felt the blunt of this grief.
Probably because he was the one to discover the body curled up in the hammock. As far as we know, the passing was of natural causes and not a homicide. Although, I’ll admit, the cats were acting very suspicious.
Mr. Raton, God rest his soul, was not on our four cats’ favorite lists. Okay, I’ll admit it. He wasn’t on my fav’ list either. It was his bald tail. If he’d just had little fur on it, I think I could have gotten past my prejudices. I could have pretended he was a gerbil or a hamster. But my lack of affection for the dearly departed wasn’t important, I knew my son’s feelings were real.
“I’m really sorry.”
“He was the best nine dollars I ever spent,” he said. “Thank goodness I still have his brother.”
I had to bite my tongue not to remind him that his nine dollars was money he hadn’t asked to spend. He’d never gotten permission to bring home the two rats. Imagine my surprise when one day, a week or so after they’d been sneaked into my home, I went to toss the dirty socks he’d left in my living room into his bedroom (Hey, I always left them by his pillow so he’d learn a lesson-not that it worked, but it made me feel better) and saw the two pink-eyed creatures staring at me from the cage. I tossed the socks up in the air and screamed bloody murder. I was also tempted to leave his door open and let the kitties in for a visit. You know their paws were small enough to reach into that cage.
When he arrived home that day from school, I insisted he take them back. He called the pet store, but their no return policy stood strong. I insisted he find another home for them. Amazingly, much to my son’s shock, not one of his friend’s parents would welcome a couple of rats into their home. Duh!
I was forced to either cruelly insist he toss the creatures into our cat friendly neighborhood, or accept them into the family. Call me a sucker, but I accepted them. I’m not saying I loved them. Acceptance is a far cry from loving.
So that’s how Mr. Raton and his brother arrived at the Craig house and here’s the story of how he left.
“What do I do with the body?” my son asked, still standing at the edge of my desk.
I thought a minute. “My mom flushed my goldfish down the toilet.” (Hey, I wasn’t trying to be ugly, it was just the first thing that popped into my head.)
“You haven’t seen him lately, have you?” my son asked, his tone accusing.
“I didn’t know I had mandatory visitations.”
“He’s not so little anymore. Too many Cheetos, I guess.”
“You fed him Cheetos?”
“He loved them. He used to sit on my shoulder and eat them.”
I sigh. “Then I guess you’ll need to bury him.”
My son goes and finds his dad, I’m sure hoping his dad will show him more sympathy.
“Dad is going to help me bury it,” my son said when he returned.
“That’s good,” I said and glanced back at my computer, eager to get in my obligated ten pages of writing.
“Do you want to come say good bye?” he asked.
“No!” I know most of you won’t agree, but for some reason seeing a dead rat seemed freakier than seeing a live one.
His dad appeared in my study, a shovel in hand. “You ready?”
“What about a casket?” my son asked. Yup, he really asked that.
When neither hubby or I answered, son continued. “We can’t just put him in the dirt.”
I wanted to ask why not, but I refrained and found a box and offered it to my son.
“Mom, how would you like to be buried in a used Chinese takeout box that smelled like Kung Pao that was pulled out of the garbage?”
I didn’t answer. Hubby snickered.
“Besides,” Son says, “He won’t fit.”
“Can you just smash him a little bit?” his dad asked.
Son looked appalled and then he too snickered. I went in search of another box. The box my business cards came in is the perfect size for a rotund Cheeto-loving rat.
Mr. Raton was tucked away in his makeshift casket, lovingly wrapped in paper towels, resting beside a . . . a Cheeto (so I’m told, I still wouldn’t look at him) and son and hubby went in the backyard.
I, of course, excuse myself from attending the funeral, but I did watch from my French doors, accompanied by the four still suspicious-appearing cats, as my two men buried the rat and said their final good byes.
Afterwards, my son returned in my office. “I know you think I’m crazy, but I really did love that guy.”
I looked at my son. “I know you did.” I got up and hugged him really tight and I remembered when I was ten and being heart broke when my Iguana died. “I’m really sorry.”
And I guess the moral of this blog is . . . love really is blind. So here’s to you, Mr. Raton. May the afterlife bring you lots of Cheetos.
So that’s my sad day at the Craig house. What’s going on in everyone else’s life? Hey…what book are you reading? I’m about to make a run to Barnes & Noble, so does anyone have any recommendations?
Crime Scene Christie