Sunday, July 4, 2010

Pet Sounds

Ms. Wilson was a 54 year old woman who, by her overall appearance, looked as if she had been walking on the wild side of life for quite some time. (The politically correct term for this is “looks older than her stated age.” The Joplin, Missouri term, taught to me by my old friend Dr. Michael Joseph, is “rode hard and put away wet.”). When someone looks that way, you never know quite why. Maybe it was a life of hard luck, of working two jobs and barely scraping by. Maybe it was selfless service to those in need, of bearing the pain of others on her shoulders. Maybe it was living like Bike Week was a full-time job. But regardless of the cause, with folks like this you know there’s always a story out there somewhere.

She had come in complaining of left rib pain. The pain had been present for two days since she fell out of bed and landed on a toolbox. The reason she fell out of bed is that she rolled onto her pet who was on the bed, the pet yelped, and she was startled.

Up until now, I’m with the story. I’ve had a pet sleep on the bed (most notably the late lamented Jimmy Leemer the Dog, aka The Amazing Furry Walking Garbage Disposal.) Indeed, this is a fundamental part of The Second Axiom of The Dog Rules of a Relationship, which are:

1. You must love my dog.
2. The dog is going to sleep anywhere it wants, because the dog was there first.
3. If we get into a fight and you ask who I love more, you or the dog, you don’t want the answer.

But here is where the story changes, because the pet in this case is a rat. A domesticated white rat, she was quick to point out; a dear member of the family that has been scurrying about the house and climbing into bedclothes for the past two years.

And you do you get a rat for a pet? Well, they were going to feed it to the snake, but it just gave her this look…

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