It says a lot about my life that I stopped to comb my hair before answering the door to the pest control service. The need for human contact plays out in strange ways during these Covid days.
Although the guys from Don’s Drop Dead (No, I did not make up the name) are friendly and efficient, they have never seen my face which is always covered with a mask and large sunglasses. So I thought the least I could do was untangle my hair which is the only part anyone sees of me anymore.
I actually didn’t open the door for them. I opened the casement window that faces the front porch so we could talk at a safe social distance to discuss the non-paying tenant that has moved into the basement. Actually it’s not even a basement. It’s a crawlspace that provided entry to a wall.
It’s bad enough to know the intruder is there, but in the wall behind a corner bookcase that houses my poetry collection is untenable. Forgive me, Robert Browning, for the intrusion. I’m doing my best to evict the unwanted tenant with a long skinny tail. I even combed my hair. Although in retrospect, that may have been a mistake. If he or she had seen me in a tangled mess, he or she might gladly have moved out on their own.
The distinctive gnawing sound, which I learned from Don’s, is the rodent sharpening his or her teeth, has now moved from Browning to Emily Dickinson. I can picture Emily sitting at her little wooden writing desk horrified. Not necessarily because there was a rat in the room, but because it would interrupt her writing. And the world would have been devoid of the insightful radiance of her poetry.
That’s my opinion, not Emily’s – although she did write a poem in which she called the creature “the concisest tenant/he pays no rent,” so I think we can guess where she stands on the topic. But I am hoping that the new president’s protection plan for renters will not impede my eviction process since my freeloading tenant was already not paying rent.
The bait is down. I hope it works before my noisy invader finds a path to the Shakespeare volumes and poor Juliet is forced to shout,
“A rat by any other name…”
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