Rats in the Cellar

" Rats in the Cellar "
By Stephen R. Guilmet

It's true about the rats squeezing in between the walls and making a ruckus at night. In Iwakuni, the officers would inspect our barracks during the day when everything was nice and bright and things were quiet. They never thought there was a problem. We had lights out at 2200, and that's when the fun began. I could hear them running and fighting all night in the ceiling above my rack.

I spent six months living in the transit room. The first thing a newbie saw when he came into the room were the rat traps on the floor. The expressions were always good for a laugh. One kid went down the hall to get a drink of water. He came back a minute later just shaking his head. Seems a rat was just sitting in the scuttlebutt getting himself a nice cool drink. He wasn't going anywhere and figured that everyone else would just have to wait their turn.

I was standing duty one Friday night when about 3 or 4 Marines returned from liberty really drunk (must have been a payday). They found a wire coat hanger, and off they went to do some hunting. The next morning my alternate informed me that they caught themselves quite a trophy.

What amazed me about the rats was their disgusting appetite. We always informed the newbies to secure all their possessions, especially their shaving kits. They always knew more than we did and on many occassions left a bar of soap out so they could be the first in the shower in the morning. They couldn't figure out why someone would bother vandalizing their precious bar of soap until we pointed out the teeth marks!

The funniest one was a corporal who got a raspberry on his leg playing softball and woke up to find a hole chewed into his brand new jeans where the puss had soaked through. He put in a claim to get reimbursed for them, but I don't know if the money came through or not. I lost a couple pair of socks that way from a sore on my foot. I was just happy that they didn't chew through my blanket looking for the fresh stuff!

My scariest experience came in the middle of the night. Out of the darkened quiet came a loud *SNAP*. I awoke thinking "great, one less to worry about." Then, just as quickly, I could hear the high pitched squealing. I decided to ignore it and started to go back to sleep, figuring it would soon die and I could dispose of it in the morning.

Well, as my mind became foggy with sleep, I started to think about how big this rat must be, that this huge trap didn't kill it. I also start to think about how pissed off this rat must be about who set the trap; and since I'm the only one in the room at the time, it's going to drag itself over to me to settle the score.

I jumped up at that point and turned on the light to discover that it was only a baby and that when the trap sprung it only caught its tail. What a relief!

Copyright 1994 Stephen R. Guilmet, All Rights Reserved