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Sleeping with the enemy: Post-Valentine’s Day reflections

Editor's column
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The weekend before Valentine’s Day, I wanted to shop with my husband for a Valentine’s bracelet. And relax at home.

I received neither of those wishes.

Instead, I spent 40 sleepless hours in fear.

Our weekend of terror innocently began at 1 a.m. Saturday. While my husband, Jerry, fell asleep to a rain lullaby on our roof, I heard a constant sloshing somewhere outside.

Twenty minutes later, it sounded like my 18-pound dog, Rocko, was walking throughout the house. I checked but he was sleeping in the family room.

Returning to the bedroom, I heard water leaks bombarding us. I grabbed a heavy-duty flashlight, looked at the ceiling and crawled on the floor to check under the bed and dressers.

I didn’t see anything.

Next I checked the bathroom, from behind the toilet’s shut-off valve to the shower ceiling.

Still nothing.

Yet the slushing continued.

Although complaining loudly as I looked around, Jerry slept through my investigation. In fact, he started snoring so I joined my dog in the family room.

My weekend from hell was just starting as the sloshing intensified.

And my husband snored.

Rocko and I kept guard for five hours, perched on the family room’s love seat. With the flashlight aimed toward the hallway and the family room lights on full blast.

When Jerry woke up at 6 a.m. to use the hallway bathroom, he was surprised to see a light pointed his way. When I mentioned the unidentifiable sounds, he told me to come back to bed and wake him next time I heard something.

Ten minutes later, someone was ransacking our bedroom dresser drawers. When I woke him, Jerry told me that he was too sleepy to listen.

Twenty minutes later, I heard a crash from the adjacent bedroom. I ran in there and saw my shoes knocked over.

Not knowing what was happening, I checked on Rocko in the family room. Rocko hadn’t moved from the love seat.

Another boom hit the kitchen and a colander was turned sideways. Then I saw the unwelcome intruder – a rodent running behind the refrigerator.

And I yelped.

Finally, I caught Jerry’s attention.

He placed four mouse traps in the kitchen and the hallway. We brought Rocko into the bedroom and shut the door to protect him from the traps and to keep the rodent away from us.

We stayed imprisoned in the bedroom, hoping the mouse/rat creature would trip the trap and our ordeal would be over.

But the house was eerily quiet.

Four hours later, we bought five more traps at Home Depot. The clerk told us that many residents were in similar battles lasting several days, if not weeks.

As Jerry placed the new traps strategically around the house, the rodent ran into the bedroom.

Jerry, who first called the rodent Tom (as in Tom and Jerry), renamed the rodent !&?@#!#%&!

We stayed away from the house for 10 hours, hoping the monster would venture near the traps if he thought we were gone. I took Rocko to my mother so he would be safe from the Rodentia. Eventually running out of places to visit, Jerry and I went back to our house of horrors.

Unfortunately, the traps remained empty.

And someone was running around the bedroom.

I stayed glued to the loveseat, afraid of what I might find down the hallway.

As my husband gallantly gathered our pajamas from the bedroom, the fat rat ran across Jerry’s shoes. Jerry tried to catch the !&?@#!#%&! but it disappeared.

For the next eight hours, traps exploded in the bedroom. The rat was smarter than us, however, and eluded five traps. In the meantime, I called every 24-hour exterminator in Northern California. Their answering services told me that the exterminators would get back to me Monday morning.

While I was exchanging phone numbers with the potential saviors, Jerry figured out how to catch the enemy. By Sunday afternoon, Jerry and his friend, Damien, moved our bed to the garage so they would have a clearer shot at the rodent with a rake.

Perfect, except Jerry and Damien couldn’t find the rodent. An hour later, after ample swearing and slamming bedroom closet doors, the two humans declared victory by saying the rodent ran outside during all the commotion.

Thirty minutes later, Jerry yelled. He lifted a shirt on the ironing board and the rat glared before bolting. Damien was called back to help find the escape artist.

No luck, until Damien screamed 20 minutes later. He found the rat smugly sitting in the hood of Jerry’s coat on the coat rack.

This time, the humans were successful in capturing the rat.

I used to think that rats and mice inhabited filthy or neglected houses. But our house is neither. Any house is susceptible to rodents, especially during colder, rainy weather.

Now I have post-traumatic stress. I envision the rat sleeping next to us after we close the bedroom door to keep Rocko away from the traps and the rat away from us. Every day, I check for rat droppings.

The rodent threat is real. I would feel much better if an exterminator inspected our home to identify if we are rodent-free.

My husband refuses, though, because he grew up on an Indiana farm where he frequently removed rats. So ego prevents Jerry from having a free home inspection.

As we were enjoying our Valentine’s Day dinner last week, however, Jerry finally agreed to call an exterminator if we find more mouse or rat droppings. That’s a better present than any piece of jewelry.