It was this time of year when a house I rented with friends really came alive. With rats. It was a big 1920’s Craftsman near Greenlake with a drafty crawl space in the basement. Having always lived in old houses I should have known that there was a real risk of the place having rodents. It sat close to a string of restaurants and a grocery store and was blocks from the water. But before this house I hadn’t dealt with anything larger than mice–cute as they are creepy–and never dreamed of living with their big brothers.

I should have been pleading with Saint Gertrude for help the whole time. She’s the patron saint of suriphobia—the fear of rodents.

By the time I was packing up the kitchen and moving out the next summer, a long list of rat stories had unfolded. The rats had been quiet for some time, likely traipsing across the yard in the warm summer weather. Exterminators and dozens of traps later, it had gotten to the point where I knew I was cohabitating with the rodents instead of getting close to actually beating them. And as a result, the rats were gracious, for the most part keeping out of food and sight. But when I left I knew that really, the rats had won.

I opened a cupboard and grabbed a stack of plates to wrap in newspaper. And there it was, this perfect pellet dropped on the center of the top plate. Sort of like the rat was giving me the finger as a farewell.