The door bell’s grinding ring rang out four times signifying the arrival of Dr. Weirdo, our champion and benefactor. He came at the strangest times . . . in fact it often felt as if we were on the same time-line or perhaps sharing something akin to the vibrations in our souls. But somehow, I doubt that.
Rose of course is always happy to see Jack. We both love that he brings excellent coffee with him, even better he brings her favorite pastry. Me? I’m just along for the ride . . . and the occasional goodwill package of earned, but never mentioned, packs of money that we keep hidden in our freezer waiting for the one day we might finally decide what to do with the packages that may someday take us to Italy for a year or two.
We all sat down at our wooden bench breakfast table. We always let the guest choose where to sit. They almost always choose the seat that lets them look out the window and enjoy the view of Vashon Island and Puget Sound.
Soon we had exhausted the conversation and Jack cleared his throat, so we knew we were about to get some idea of what we might be helping one of Jack’s associates, his relatives or his wife’s relatives.
Jack rushed out the front door and soon came back with a bashful young man. His name was Oliver. He had fairly long hair almost a Beatle cut from the 1960s. He sat down and was very polite. He wore a light-weight jacket. Rose went to the cupboard and returned with a bowl of a dozen plus oatmeal cookies with raisins in them. She sat them on the counter and then gave the young man a plate with four cookies as we chatted about music and dancing. When the fourth cookie was gone, Rose stood up and went to the cupboard for more. As she placed more cookies on the plate, I saw some sort of movement in the boy’s shirt just inside his jacket. Soon the plate was bare again. Jack and his buddy Oliver excused themselves Jack said he would get back to us.
Rose walked with Jack and Oliver to the car while I followed behind. Keeping a straight face and merely offering a nod while I watched a hanging white tail twitching from inside Oliver’s coat.
Rose is always happy when people enjoy her cookies. I always just shrug my shoulders and think “Why wouldn’t they?” Rose got busy and hummed along to herself while she baked a new batch.
Later that day Jack twisted our door bell and joined us in the kitchen. I could tell there was more to the earlier visit than what we had seen or felt. Jack revealed that Oliver was visiting from Chicago. I knew nothing much about Chicago. I drove through it once with a friend on our way to golf at a chi-chi course. I simply remarked, “Weren’t they the originators of slaughtering cattle on a massive scale?” Something else was gnawing . . . so I added, “Isn’t Chicago the home of the most rats?” Rose quickly remarked, “Do we need to talk about rats? I haven’t seen a rat in years.”
Jack simply said “Indeed.” He handed me an envelope which contained more information about Oliver and the area where he lived and strolled. “Strolled?” I asked. “Is he big on walking?” Jack just shrugged his shoulders and said, “I gotta go.”
Two days later Rose and I were getting in shape walking around Wright Park and glancing around looking for Oliver. After about three days we hung back on our walks, but got a good look at Oliver’s routine. He would walk around with a white rat or two in his pockets feeding them and teaching them to stroll along with him when he didn’t see anyone watching. By then Rose and I were using binoculars to study Oliver and his rat’s actions, responses, and attitudes. This went on for a good week with just the same old, same old daily walk. One day it changed.
Oliver ran into someone who spied the daily rat walks and was hanging around trying to get Oliver and his rat pack out of the neighborhood. First the rat hater threw pebbles and then rocks. Sometimes he threw at the rats and then he began throwing rocks at Oliver. The next week the rat hater began showing up in a car and trying to run down the rats. Soon he was showing up in a different car each day.
Two days in a row, we didn’t see Oliver and his rats at all, but did see the rat hater snooping about like us. Rose said, “I bet Oliver is still doing what he wants. I just feel that he’s moved the venue of his entertainment and rat love.
Starting at Wright Park we began drifting more into North Tacoma. I questioned the direction, but Rose remarked. I don’t think we’ll lose him. There are probably enough rats to go around, no matter where we look.
Rose of course was right. We found him with his rats at an ancient cobblestone street. Different day, different street. Again, we kept our distance and merely watched. Over the next three days we saw the hater trying to run down the little rat pack. Actually, it was kind of a fun entertainment. Rose, of course, did not find it entertaining.
The next week there was a tragedy. The rat hater drove over one rat and killed it. Oliver was heart-broken, Rose was heart-broken; the rat was just dead.
We returned to our lookout spot the next day and Oliver was back . . . but so was the killer. This time the hater/killer was driving a motorcycle. The killer drove up and down the street and laughing at Oliver’s mean looking, almost closed squinty eyes. Oliver pulled out another white rat and waved it at the killer.
The killer revved up and headed down the cobble stone street. I zeroed in with a binocular and noticed a fishing line tied to the dead white rat. As the motorcycle came roaring down the slight hill, Oliver jerked the line a little bit and then pulled the dead rat into the middle of the street with a fishing rod. Killer hit the brakes and swerved into a deep cobble stone hole where the dead rat was. He was soon flying off the bike and rolling down the street. While I ran to help Oliver, Rose ran for the car. We arrived at about the same time. We picked up Oliver and any of his materials, jumped in the car and took off. Looking in the mirror we could see the killer on the stones with his bike on top of him and his fist shaking in the air . . . we couldn’t hear what he was saying, but I think we interpreted pretty well.
The next morning in The News Tribune, there was an article about an off-duty policeman being hurt in an accident in North Tacoma.
The next day Jack stopped over with coffee, some toasted coconut donuts and a packet which went immediately into the freezer. Oliver was back in Chicago and not expected back in Tacoma for some time.
We thanked Jack for the donuts. I also handed him a sealed plastic bag with a dead rat in it along with a belly stuffed with sharp nails and broken glass. Somehow, I didn’t think that Oliver would be able to take the bag of evidence onto the airplane.