“Marty? Marty? Is that you?” I said.
“… Um Unuunnn,” she said.
“Marty? Where are you?”
“I’m at the airport.”
“Wow. I didn’t realize you were leaving so early.”
“Yuh. Just leaving San Francisco.”
“Yeah, I’m a little hepped up. Didn’t sleep very well last night.”
“Oh that’s too bad. Why?”
“I don’t know. Kind of an odd night. It seemed like every TV in the house was on and I went around and turned them all off but they kept coming back on. That was unsettling. And then this morning, there was a dead rat on the patio.”
“A dead rat!”
“Yup. A big dead San Francisco rat.”
“Wow. What’d you do?”
“Well it made me kind of uneasy. Having a dead rat on the patio.”
“How did you get rid of it?”
“Jay, Jay, Jay…. I think you already know this. I don’t do dead rats. I don’t do dead mice or dead birds either. But I especially don’t do dead rats.”
“Oh . . . you realize I’m in Philadelphia, right? I can’t do much with a rat in San Francisco.”
“Yeah. I’m just looking for your thoughts. Kind of thought it was above Lauren’s pay grade.”
“Oh, forget Lauren. I know just what to do.”
“Ajex. We’ll get Ajax to go out there with a plastic bag, scoop the rat into the plastic bag, tie a knot in it and drop the thing in the construction trailer across the street. A perfect project for a 13 year old boy.”
“I thought you were going to say throw it into Kathy’s yard.”
“Brilliant! We don’t even have to put it in a bag then. Just get him to pick it up by the tail and fling it over the wall.”
“I don’t think Ajax will touch it.”
“You’re probably right. He’s a wuss.”
“Oh, wait I think they are calling my plane.”
“Have a safe flight.” I said.
“Let me know what you do with that dead rat,” she said.
There was a pause. I thought she hung up. Then she came back on. She said, “I think it’s an omen.”
“Yes, a dead rat omen. Did I tell you about the dead rat when I was with Kirk?” Kirk was her first husband.
“No I missed that.”
“Well he was on a business trip and I was sleeping at the house by myself. We had a cat and the cat came into the house in the middle of the night and she was carrying a big rat. Brought it right to my bedroom and dropped it on the floor.”
“Wow, what’d you do? Was it still alive?”
“Yes, it was still thrashing.”
“Oh God, what did you do?”
“I freaked out. I turned the wastepaper basket upside down on top of it.”
“Did the wastebasket move across the floor?”
“I don’t know. I ran out screaming.”
“Yeah I thought it was a bad sign for my marriage. It was, actually. We got divorced right after that.”
“Well it was good sign for your second marriage.”
“Be safe on the plane.”
“Don’t forget that rat.”
– Jay Duret