We’re not talking little Ukrainian orphans here

Photo by Del Stone Jr.

Yesterday I found myself having a conversation with some of my Facebook friends about a rat. The things that matter to you when you get old.

To recap, I found what I thought was a squirrel’s nest in the engine compartment of my SUV. Squirrels can damage a vehicle by chewing through hoses, belts and wiring, so I set out a live trap to catch the little bastard. Instead, I caught a rat.

I didn’t want to kill the rat, but I did want it off the premises, so I took it to a park about a mile away and let it go. That kicked off a Facebook conversation about how far you should take a rat away from your house to prevent it from returning.

One person said half a mile. Others said a mile, while others said 2 miles. One person said 5 miles. So I decided to ask Professor Internet.

(As an aside, I couldn’t believe what I was doing – consulting a worldwide database, the most far-reaching and sophisticated information-storage and transmission medium in the history of mankind, about relocating a goddamned rat.)

Professor Internet had as many answers as there are opinions – and assholes – on planet Earth. They varied from half a mile to 10 miles with a body of water in between. Another contingent said rats shouldn’t be relocated as they can spread diseases to other rat populations, or that the rat isn’t equipped to survive at the new location and could starve.

Jesus Christ.

We’re not talking about little Ukrainian orphans here. We’re talking about a goddamned rat. Rats will eat anything, including each other. I can’t envision a scenario where a rat would starve to death – maybe if it was on a desert island and had eaten every living thing on that island.


If I trap another rat, or a squirrel for that matter, I will take the little fucker 10 miles across town and let it go. I’m not Gandhi. In the past, my dad would have dunked the trap in a bucket of water and drowned the damn thing. At least this way it stands a chance.

If not, well … there’s always Hawk Chow!

About the author

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at delstonejr.com .


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