July 31, 2018
A while back, as I was enjoying my mandatory and ablutionary daily dip, a fly interrupted my morning musings. I was able to dispatch the pesky pest quickly, by spraying him (or her), down the drain to a hot and watery grave. But my thoughts took a turn—back to our early days in the beautiful Land of Aloha, Hawaii. We were there in the tropics for missionary training, though most of our family and friends back home believed we had taken leave of our senses and were embarked on a foolish and extended vacation with our four kids.
Hawaii is most certainly beautiful, as are its people. But into every life a little rain must fall, and the rains for us were the resident pests. Vacationers would not likely experience these irritants, but we did—especially in the early pioneering days back in the 70s. For our first three months, we camped; our accommodations were saturated and creosote-stinking, surplus Army tents. Occasionally, scorpions, cockroaches and mice ignored the smell and came visiting. But it was all new and exciting for us; we just didn’t realize that these annoying little intruders were harbingers of what was yet to come.
After the ‘camping’ months, we all spent a year relocating around town in a gypsy-like nomadic lifestyle—from one rented pad to another. Finally, we all moved into an old and abandoned motel-style hotel with a hundred rooms. Unfortunately, for eight years it had been used as a ‘squat,’ and the squatters had left a mess; garbage had been thrown out the windows; basic hygiene was unknown, so a massive cleanup was called for. Whilst the former illegal denizens had been evicted, others remained. Rats, mice, feral cats, cockroaches and mongooses all had the run of the place, and no amount of eviction notices would displace them. Thus began our sojourn with these unwelcome critters. But we really loved this new home; finally, we had permanent living quarters.
The buildings were dilapidated and the 45 acres that had once been a nine-hole golf course, was a forest of small weedy trees. AWOL rats, having jumped ship when vessels from other nations had docked in the islands, became a scourge. So in order to rid the islands of the nasty rodents, some wise guy had come up with the idea of importing mongooses, the deadly enemy of rats. Unfortunately, the plan was a failure; rats are nocturnal creatures, while the mongoose prefers daylight. So they ignored each other, and both species thrived.
The clicking of mousetraps was a common sound. One night, as my wife Donna and I were just settling into our loft mattress-bed, a trap went off in the living room below. I wearily descended the steep stairs, emptied and reloaded the trap and climbed back up to bed, and was just about asleep when there was another ‘clack.’ I was so tired that I decided to leave its disposal till the morning.
But sleep was interrupted again when I awoke to hear a clickety-clack sound, and it was advancing up the stairs! What was this? Had the mouse survived its execution, and though still ‘wearing’ the trap, was coming to take its revenge on me? Suddenly I realized it had to be a larger creature that was dragging the dead mouse and its trap up the stairs; and my head lay close to the top of those stairs! With no weapon to tackle the predator, I grabbed my pillow and swung at the advancing threat. It was one startled rat that dropped its quarry and scurried off.
You may think that was bad, but next time I’ll tell you about the greatest plague of all; an infestation that overwhelmed the population of the whole town. So tune in for the upcoming account of, “The Advancing & Rapaciously Invincible Army of Doom.”
Till next week,
P. Michael Jordan