A Rat in My Bedroom: A True Story in Three Acts
Non-Legal Legal Disclaimer: All facts, names, locations and dialogue remain unchanged to expose the guilty (most noteably, the rat)
SETTING: Master Bedroom. TIME: August 24, 2011. 1:00 am
Lights up on luxurious bed linens (bought at deep discount at Tuesday Morning). There’s a loud scratching sound in the corner of the darkened room, not far from the bedside table. DEB (39.5 years old, attractive in that natural matted-hair, drool-dripping-out-of-her-mouth-guard kind of way) has just fallen asleep on the side of the bed closest to the noise. Beside her is husband, JIM (40s, handsome and virile and the standard for which all men strive, especially since he might be reading this blog). She recently got home late from a dinner with friends. A rare treat.
What’s that noise?
The noise stops. The room is silent.
(mumbling into his pillow; eyes still shut)
Oh that? It’s nothing. Just an animal outside the window. It’s been doing that all night.
Jim turns over onto his side, coughs and begins to snore.
(resting her head back on the pillow)
Silence. Ten seconds later, we hear the scratching sound again. Deb throws on the bedside light.
That noise is not outside the window. It’s in the room!
Deb scans the room, inch-by-inch with Soviet-era attention to detail. The audience can feel the hair raised on her forearms. Jim gives Deb an “I’m guessing you’re not going to let this go until I deal with it” look. Deb nods without seeing the look.
(pulling himself out of bed)
Give me a minute.
Spotlight shines on Jim’s bare ass as he walks off-stage, to the left. OFF STAGE, the audience hears a loud sigh over a steady stream of “water.”
OH MY GOD. THERE IT IS!! JIM!! GET IT!! IT’S… IT’S… A RAT!! OH MY GOD!
Deb jumps up to her feet and hops from foot-to-foot on the bed. Her arms whip around her unnnaturally.
Deb… just hold on… I’ll be done in a second.
Spotlight on RAT (brownish-grey, plump with a ponderous “why-you-screamin-lady” look in its twitchy eyes). After a beat, Rat takes a few steps across the wood floor.
(in a tone two notches above hysterical)
Oh my God. It’s on the move! Jiiimmmm!
Rat freezes as if the words were arrows in its ponderous back. It sits and stares at Deb. Deb stares back. She, too, is frozen. Jim stands stage left (note: Full-Frontal nudity optional) and sees the rat.
Huh. Wow. Look at that. You’re right.
I should put some shoes on.
Jim exits stage left again. Deb and Rat unfreeze. Rat runs out of the room. Deb follows it, arms swatting at imaginary bats flying over her head. Needless to say, she’s yelling “Jim, get it” the whole time.
SETTING: Living Room. TIME: 45 minutes later
DEB stands on the sofa, holding a broom; copious sweatstains ring her nightgown, her eyes suggest insanity is setting in. JIM stands next to upright piano keyboard; wears boxers, cowboy boots and yellow rubber kitchen gloves; holds large Sterlite 64 gallon box (labeled “Barbies”; Barbie Dolls are strewn in the hallway, off-stage). RAT is hiding under the key-board with only its 6-inch, juicy, grey-the-shade-of-bacteria-infested-undercooked meat TAIL visible to the audience.
(In a weirdly calm voice that even he didn’t know he had)
Deb, I’m just saying if the kids were to come out of their room and see you like this, I think it might scare them more than the mouse.
(In a weirdly unreasonable, “One Flew Over The Cuckoo’s Nest” voice)
Why do you keep saying that?! It’s not a mouse, Jim. It’s a rat! A rat. An 11 inch rat with a 6 inch tail. Look at it! Mice don’t have tails like that, Jim. Mice are tiny and cute. I like mice. Big fan of Stuart Little. But this ain’t no Desperaux, Jim. This thing, this “Rat” you can’t pick it up with your hands. It’ll bite you and you’ll get rabbies and that, that’ll scare the kids. Running you to the hospital as you’re foaming at the mouth, you don’t think that’ll scare the kids more than me? Oh my god, oh my god, oh my god.
(not saying what he’s thinking ’cause he values his marriage so much)
On the count of three, I’m going to move the piano. Then… I’ll grab it by the tail, put it in the box and let it go outside. If it starts to run, use the broom… Deb… are you listening? Use the broom to push it towards me and into the box, okay? OKAY? I know what I’m doing. It’s just a scared mouse.
Deb nods yes. She continues to nod yes until her head begins to shake no. She can’t help herself.
(she brushes her hand along her arms, as if brushing off imaginary ants invading her body)
Where did it come from? How did it get inside?
1, 2, 3…
Jim moves the piano. Pandomium breaks out. The rat runs around the room. Deb screams, shuts her eyes and whacks the broom indiscriminately. Jim barrels around, lurching at the RAT, indiscriminately throwing the box at it. His reassuring “I got ’em, I got ’em,” begin to grow quiet. Finally, the room is still.
(opening her eyes)
Oh my god, did you get it?
Um, look it’s no big deal. We can call the exterminator in a few hours. I can even go to Norris Hardware and get some traps.
What are you saying? Where’s the rat?
I’m just saying I don’t want you to freak out. It’s just a canyon rat. Probably got in through some vent and it’s looking for its way out.
Deb scans the room, frantic.
Jim, where’s the rat? OH MY GOD. JIM?
So, it just, um, you know rats have a really weird invertebrate that’s collapsible and
they can go flat and get into really small spaces well the rat…
I mean the mouse… just ran under the door.
(starts to rock back and forth)
Um, again, you need to be calm about this. I’ve got it under control.
I’m just going to go get a flashlight.
Jim heads off stage RIGHT.
JIM (from off stage)
It’s not like it’s going to gnaw their faces off or anything. It’s probably so
freaked out, it’s hovering in a corner. It’ll come out sooner or later
and then, I’ll get it in the box.
Back on stage, Jim tries to get the flaslight to work. Batteries are dead. He gives up. Tosses the flashlight on the cough and heads stage LEFT.
I don’t think there’s much more we can do now. I’ll call the exterminator but
honestly, I’m exhausted. Let’s just go to bed.
(barely able to squeak out the words)
The rat is in the kids’ room?!?
Lights go dark. The audience hears Deb’s shrill cry and then, a thud, as her limp body hits the floor.
SETTING: Kitchen TIME: The following night, 9 pm
An empty wine bottle sits on the counter. The kids went to bed hours ago. Deb (angrily) places dirty dishes into the dishwasher while Jim uncorks another bottle of wine.
Are you serious? You’re mad at me for not catching a mouse?
It was a rat. Only the most idiotic, stupid blind person would call that a mouse. Paul said it was an adult rat.
Paul’s Pest Control? You know, the Paul who saved your children’s lives.
Are you purposely trying to start a fight?
I’m just saying it’s a good thing we have Paul’s number on speed-dial now.
So Paul’s more of a man than me? He sets rat traps for a living. Really?
Jim leans over and re-arranges the plates that Deb just put in the dishwasher.
AH HA. You admit it was a rat!
You have to let this go.
Who has a rat in their house and just “let’s it go?” You touched it with your hand. Your… hand.
I was wearing a glove.
He gently pushes Deb aside so he can finish filling the dishwasher to his liking. Deb doesn’t mind. She even helps him out by handing him a dirty cup.
You have to stop hating nature so much.
I don’t hate nature. I just want it outside my house. Where it belongs.
We live in a canyon. Rats, mice, spiders, rattlesnakes… They get into houses sometimes.
(drops a set of silverware on the floor)
A rattlesnake can get into the house?
(nods toward the bottle of the wine)
Yes, I mean no. I mean, I think you’re letting this get in your head.
I’m not going crazy.
She spins around, then puts her finger to her lips.
Shhhh. Did you hear that? Oh my god. It’s back.