A long time ago in a fourplex far, far away (College Station), RJ and I used to live in front of a gravel pit.
It was a nice place with a big patio, which I used to set up an area for gardening and a worm composting pile. We also had a rain bucket outside that we used to water our worms, which were then used to eat our food waste. It was all very eco-friendly.
The rain barrel was the main contributing factor to this tale of woe because while ours was great at catching rain, it didn’t have one of those fancy screens like the one in the picture. It actually started its life as a big pink receptacle for storing dry dog food that I brought home with the intent of using it for, I don’t know, something that never panned out. Just like the 5 pounds of of chicken heads and the garbage bag full of lube. Neither of those things are jokes.
Anyway, that spring saw an awful lot of rain in College Station. We were emptying out that bucket into the gravel pit an awful lot because we just couldn’t water the worms that much without drowning them. You have to be nice to worms and not drown them, otherwise you just end up with a lot of soggy garbage in a box.
There were also a lot of rats. I sort of blame the compost for this because we didn’t know to put the lid on at first, so critters came to call. We figured it out soon enough when we saw the rat in our worm bin but by then the damage was done and visitors came regularly to see if we had been dumb enough to leave the top off.
One night, it was raining particularly hard so I went outside to empty out the barrel. That’s when I found it. A giant rat floating face up in the rain barrel. I screamed like a little girl and ran instead to tell RJ. He sighed – as per the terms of our marriage – and went outside to check so he could tell me I was just being silly, then returned to report that the rat was a drowned one. I was sad. He was huffy, because it meant he was going to have to fish it out of the barrel. With a Hefty bag in hand, he went back outside to scoop it up. And promptly came back in screaming.
Apparently the water had done some damage to the rat, who had been in the bucket a lot longer than we’d thought. You see, its skin had partially slipped off when RJ went to pick it up with the bag. He then enlisted my help to carry the rain barrel to the gravel pit so we could dump it. It was a thrilling operation filled with even more screams, due to the fact that rat water was sloshing everywhere and we were trying not to get hit by it.
We dumped the water into the gravel pit and ran, leaving the bright white bag as evidence of our terrible crime. It was still raining during all of this, so neither of us was really enthused about going back to get it. We figured we’d do it in the morning when the rain subsided.
The next morning I went to retrieve our bag and found that it was still there…but the rat was gone. All of the rat. The only thing left was the Hefty bag and another rat that looked exactly the same hiding behind one of the gravel piles. This could only mean one thing in my mind.
“RJ! Wake up! The rat last night was Jesus and it rose from the dead!” He responded to this by grunting at me from the bed, rolling over and saying something that sounded like “Hallelujah.” It wasn’t terribly appropriate or respectful, but that’s my ex-husband for you. While he slept, I honored Rodent Jesus the most fitting way I knew how. I tossed the trash bag into the dumpster, meditated on the situation, then fed the worms what was left of breakfast.
I told you I was a Buddhist.
(Yes, I know it’s more likely than not that the rat we saw was just another rat that had come out in the night to eat Rodent Jesus, but I like my side of the story better. Also, I think that counts as reincarnation or something. Or recycling. Either way, hallelujah.)