By Robert Stanhope
It had been a long time since anyone had visited the attic. There was an exterminator that Dad hired from Craigslist to remove a rat and her babies. If memory serves me correctly, his name was “Vermin Vernon”. I’m not sure what odor was worse, his body or the rat’s afterbirth. He wasn’t a clean man, but he was efficient at removing rodents. Plus, he was affordable. Mom offered him fresh meatballs and he accepted, refusing cash for his services. I remember him carrying a closed cardboard box of rats in one hand and a Ziploc bag of meatballs in the other as he walked across the front lawn, his ass crack showing as his pants slipped without a free hand to pull them up.
Dad passed a couple of years ago and Mom’s mind isn’t too sharp these days. Now it’s my responsibility to rid the attic of a rodent. I’ll see if “Vermin” is still on Craigslist. I’ll search “pest control” under the services section. Only three results. “Got a rat? Let’s Chat!” is the first post. “Have a Rodent Problem? We have a Potent Solution.” is the second result. Do these guys go to poetry school? Ah, this one must be “Vermin Vernon”, “A Man Has to Eat, I’ll Remove Your Critters.” Click. Sure enough, a short description of service and a phone number to call Vernon.
“Go for Vernon!” said a raspy voice on the line.
“Hi Vernon, I’m Valerie Moses. I don’t know if you remember me, but you removed some rats from my parent’s attic a few years ago.”
“Sure do, Ms. Moses. Your Mom makes a mean meatball. Sure am sorry to hear about your Dad passin’.”
“Thanks, Vernon. We sure do miss him. Mom isn’t cooking these days. The reason I’m calling is because a neighbor saw a raccoon crawling into the attic. We hear him scratching and making a ruckus. Can you remove it for us?”
“A raccoon, huh?” asked a hesitant sounding Vernon.
“Yes,” I replied and asked, “Is that beyond your services?”
“You mentioned your Mom isn’t cooking these days. How are your meatballs?”
“Vernon, I’d be happy to pay you cash.”
A disappointed Vernon replied, “I think I’ll refer you to “Rascal Rick” for this one.”
“I saw his ad on Craiglist. Is he a good man?” I asked.
“He’ll get the job done and treat ya fair.”
“Okay. Thank you for the referral, Vernon. I need to tend to my apple pie in the oven now. Take care.”
“Whoa, whoa, whoa! Did you say apple pie?” exclaimed Vernon.
“Sure did,” I replied.
“I’ll be right over to take care of your raccoon problem, Ms. Moses.”
Writer and photographer.