|The Moonshine Rat
The bride-to-be was upstairs crying in the arms of the groom-to-be. The mother sat in a dark corner of the large living room sipping a cup of green tea. The father was pacing the room, following the curve of the tall bay windows. Jorge the gardener sat on a bench next to the servants’ cottage with a pellet gun in his hand.
“I hope you’re happy now,” the father said, stopping by the closed patio doors. “It was a complete disaster.”
“Rats are living beings too,” the mother said quietly. “There was nothing we could do about it.”
“You should’ve just let me call the exterminator.” He paused. “A Buddhist,” he sneered.
First, they played around on the lower lawn closest to the Hudson River. Then they got bolder and began to climb up the hill and get closer to the shed, then the servants’ cottage, then the mansion itself. Jorge began shooting them once they got too close to the cottage. The wife screamed: “Bad karma!” Jorge shrugged and wondered what it would be like to be reborn as a rat.
By the time the engagement party took place, in mid-July, the rats ran around the lawn like kids playing freely under the summer sun. “Daddy, do something about it!” the daughter cried. The father asked Jorge to shot as many as he could before the guests began to arrive. The mother closed her eyes and fingered her beads as pellets flew across the manicured lawn.
Soon the guests moved indoors as if covering from a sudden summer storm. The first floor of the house was filled with people who whispered and gasped and chuckled. The mother played the Tibetan chants she bought at the Ten Thousands Waves Spa in Santa Fe.
The father walked outside and stood still on the unlit porch. He saw Jorge advanced slowly, gun in hand, towards the marble swimming pool that sparkled under the stars. Two rats shared the crumbs left under the outside bar. Another one swam clumsily in the pool. The father stared at Jorge, transfixed. Pure happiness filled him as he saw Jorge raise his right arms and aim at the fattest rat, the one that sat alone on the tip of the diving board, back paws crossed, sitting still and lustrous under the moonshine as if lost in deep meditation.