"How are you, mom?"
"I got bitten by a rat."
"There was a family of rats in the basement but the cats chased them out, and now they moved to the attic. They ate a hole in the ceiling and one of them fell through and dropped to the floor. I didn't see it but I heard it. Terrible squealing."
"I went to see what the deal was. The cats were chasing this huge rat and it was squealing bloody murder. They chased it under the radiator. It's below freezing outside and the radiator is very hot. It was burning under there but it was afraid to come out for the cats might eat it. So I fetched a rag and grabbed it and it bit me."
"On the finger. It clenched its jaws and I tried to open them and couldn't! I was running around the house screaming and the cats were running after me meowing and the rat was hanging on my finger and I ran outside, trying to shake it off. And then it died. I think it died from fright. I pried its teeth open and shook it out into the snow."
"The pain was terrible. My finger doubled in size, and by the time the ambulance arrived the whole hand was swollen. I just returned home from the hospital after they gave me shots. I can't leave grandma alone for longer than a few hours. She's bad. She needs to be helped to void herself, and no one is around to help. And I thought, what is it? One thing after another. The fire, then rats, now what?"
"What are you going to do?"
"I need to move out of this house but there is nowhere to move, so I'm feeding them. I heard they're vindictive and I'm afraid the whole family will be after me. I look up and there is a nose peeping out from the hole in the ceiling. They're watching me. I put a bit of rolled bread on a stick and I raise it up and they take it, quick, quick! And they scurry off. For a while. Then they show up again. I was feeding them today all day long."
"Dear God. Is grandma okay?"
"She's fine. They don't bite her." Mom laughs.
And I think of Stephen King's rat story, Graveyard Shift. I have never read it, and maybe I should. Or write my own. A whole book. I have been bitten too, like this. Once. I was ten. Nine. Can't remember. A girl on the street talked me into taking her kitten. I brought it home. We had four dogs at home. Not a good idea. Three of them were more or less domesticated, picked up from the street my my aunt or mom. One was knew. Not domesticated at all. He snatched the kitten from me. The kitten screamed. The dogs pounced on it. By the time I reached it the dogs ravished it pretty bad. When I took it into my hands it locked its teeth on my finger and died. I remember grandma, the one who is now bedridden, took me to the doctor for twenty shots in my stomach. Against rabies. That taught me a lesson, I suppose. The shots were painful. I didn't care much. I was heartbroken over the kitten.
And that is my little horror story for you. As you can see...
MY STORIES WILL NEVER END.