December 9, 2023

That Really Bunches My Panties . . . by Brendon Marks


“What the heck happened to my sofa?” was all Rick could ask. The fabric and stuffing were completely removed from one arm and all that remained was the wooden frame.
Now it was war!
Rick and his family were attempting to make a weekend getaway place in the high desert between Flagstaff and Williams, Arizona. They bought a piece of land well off the beaten path and spent their weekends escaping the Phoenix heat while making a place to relax and enjoy themselves. The trouble is, Rick spent two or three days a week trying to establish a toehold in the wilderness and the wilderness spent the other four or five days a week trying to take it back.
He carved out a road that was tolerable whenever it didn’t rain — a real adventure when it did — and hauled in an older model mobile home. After putting it up on blocks, they were ready to set up housekeeping.
Incidents involving varmints are to be expected when you sleep in a barn or a tent, but this was a house, a veritable fortress against all that nature could set against them. They moved in some furniture and stocked the cupboards.
It all started when little items began to disappear. They would find a pinion nut where an apple used to be. A box of gelatin turned into a prickly pear fruit. Pack rats are not really thieves. They always leave something in trade for what they take. Pretty much most of the time you wouldn’t take the trade they offered anyway, but they usually wouldn’t give you a choice. Then one day a box of cereal was discovered halfway across the kitchen, and a pinecone on the cupboard shelf.
At first Rick had no intention of harming the varmint, because after all, how would you feel if someone hauled a mobile home into your backyard and set up housekeeping?
The relentless determination of his uninvited guest turned Rick’s relaxing weekends into a constant battle of counteracting what damage had been perpetrated and trying to anticipate what will happen next.
An incident with a mop was what finally convinced Rick that he had to do something to bring an end to the siege. They arrived at the mobile home one weekend to find what used to be their mop in the middle of the kitchen floor. All that was left was the handle. Each separate strand of cotton yarn was neatly trimmed right next to the mop head and carried away. Rick spent the weekend plugging up any possible place that the varmint could use to get inside.
It wasn’t enough. The next time they went up for the weekend was when they found the arm of the sofa missing, obviously carried out through the new hole that had been chewed through the wall. Rick now completely lost his sense of humor regarding this situation and set about to enclose the entire lower part of the mobile home with a heavy mesh screen. This project took a couple of consecutive weekends and there were times at night that Rick heard the patter of little feet on the partially installed screen.
It was not until after the screen project was complete that Rick realized that instead of screening the pack rat out, he had actually screened it in. There were signs showing where the rat had attempted to squeeze between the overlapping edges, and it was obvious that it was trying to get out rather than in. Rick now figured that the pack rat had a nest somewhere in the walls, floor, or ceiling of the mobile home and had settled in for the winter.
Rick wishes him a lot of luck however, because the only food in the house is three cans of soup and Rick left no can-opener. Occasionally he is overcome by a wave of compassion but it quickly passes when he recalls the vision of that little bugger on the sofa with his feet up, calmly gnawing away on an arm.

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