Fresh Blood

Drenched with sweat, Arnie came into the kitchen to pour himself a glass of water. After drinking he said, “I found the place where the rats got into our back porch.”

I shuddered with revulsion. There had been always mice in our old farmhouse, but this summer I discovered badly chewed things in the back porch. My husband had informed me, “That’s the work of rats.” Not willing to accept such a horrible possibility, I set two mouse traps loaded with peanut butter. During the night they both totally disappeared.

I pictured a rat running away from the house wearing them like earrings. The rat trap I next bought was huge. Instead of a small shingle of wood, it was a substantial plank equipped with heavy-duty metal to snap down and kill a large rodent. Before going to bed, I loaded it with a slice of bologna. The next morning, I found a dead rat the size of a two-month-old kitten.

Turning to return to working on the house’s foundation at the back door, my husband apologized, “I’m sorry, but it’s going to take me a couple days to mortar shut the hole I’ve made in the foundation.”

Picturing a swarm of rats invading our home, I yelped, “Arnie, our house will be flooded with vermin! You have to close that hole by tonight!”

Shrugging Arnie apologized again, “Sorry, it’s going to take a while longer for me to finish the job.”

Despite blocking the hole, that night our two male tuxedo cats discovered that they could come and go as they wanted. The following morning, I found the body of a freshly killed rabbit under the basement stairway. They had killed and dragged the body home for a leisurely feast. Fresh blood stained the cement floor.

When I found the remains, my screech of horror made Arnie and our two daughters, nine-year-old Tammie and thirteen-year-old Niki come running. The girls reacted with ghoulish fascination.

Niki said, “Tammie, I’ve just thought of new labels to put on the jars for our Halloween witches’ kitchen decoration. How does, ‘Fresh Blood’, ‘rabbit eyes’ and ‘bunny guts’ sound?”

Tammie laughed and asked, “Mom, do you think we should make a chalk outline around the rabbit like the police do on the television crime shows?”

I answered grumpily, “No! Those darn cats. The blood-stained cement will serve as a reminder for where the body was found.”

“Maybe the cats did us a favor.” Tammie suggested, “Maybe they killed Bunnicula.”

Turning to look at my youngest daughter, I asked, “Who is Bunnicula?”

With a big smile Tammie explained, “It’s a vampire rabbit that sucks the juice from vegetables. You can tell he’s been around if you find white, shriveled carrots, beets and celery.”

Arnie promised, “I’ll have the foundation repair done today by the time you have supper ready.” True to his word, my husband did finish his work by that evening.

Two weeks later my children put up their decorations for the Halloween party we were having. I stood in my kitchen looking at the pictures they’d drawn. Jars labeled, ‘Bat spit’ and ‘camel boogers’ were taped on the tableware cupboard. On the baking supply cupboard were jars labeled, ‘fresh blood’, ‘bunny guts’ and ‘rabbit eyeballs’. On the refrigerator was a wonderful cutout of a witch, complete with a green complexion and warts on her nose.

Arnie came into the kitchen, put down his bowling bag and took a cookie from a plate on the counter. I said, “The girls are excited about their big party. Their friends will be here soon.”

Picking up his bowling bag and giving me a kiss, Arnie said with a shudder, “Looking after a bunch of screaming school girls for the evening would be the scary part of Halloween for me! Better you than me. Have fun.”

Watching my husband walk to his truck, I called after him, “I’ve already had a spooky Halloween…remember earlier this month when I caught the rat and found the dead rabbit?”

 

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