Besides roach and ant traps, this time Alika added rat poison. He’d started hearing them at night. In between the floors. Running around overhead. Waking him up at all hours.

And then there was the dog food. Three nights ago, when he’d heard the plastic bowl vibrating on the kitchen floor tile, Alika assumed it was Scruffy having a snack. The next night he heard it again, but this time Scruffy had been sleeping next to him.

Listening for a few seconds to the plastic-on-tile vibration sound coming from the kitchen, he decided to slide out of bed and tiptoe out for a peek. Unfortunately, his stealthy movement woke Scruffy, too, who immediately tore out into the kitchen. By the time Alika followed close behind, he could find no rat, but he put the dog food bowl up on the sink counter to remove the temptation.

Last night, not only were the rats racing around the space over his head, but he awoke to hear the plastic dog bowl vibrating on the marble sink counter. As he ran out into the kitchen close on Scruffy’s heels, Alika saw the tail of the rat as it scampered down the side of the counter and through the floor drain hole that led out into the yard. He plugged the hole with newspaper and prayed there’d be no heavy rain that night to flood the kitchen.

He couldn’t get back to sleep. That rats could run around his kitchen sink and counters both sickened and frightened him. Had this just started up since he’d been placing the bowl on the counter at night? Or had the rats always run over them freely, galloping around and over whatever foods might be sitting around overnight, looking for something that might appeal to them? Sniffing around them. Touching them. Licking them. Alika gagged.

The roaches were an old, ongoing problem, one of the prices people paid for living in Hawai‘i. The ants had appeared over the past year, and, like roaches, were now more or less permanent adversaries. Traps to fight them both had become part of the household budget.

Alika wondered how quickly he could kill the rats. Would this be a problem he could solve, or would they, too, become a constant budgetary concern?

Alika put on Scruffy’s collar and leash, and the two exited the house. Standing outside his garage, he punched in the code to raise the door. Nothing happened. He tried it again. No response.

Going back inside the house, he grabbed two fresh AA batteries, went back out, and replaced the ones in the keypad. Punching in the code once again, he waited. Nothing.

Now what? Alika wondered. Reaching for the handle, he tried to lift the door, and as he strained, all of a sudden, with a loud crunching sound, the door came out of its left side track and collapsed to the ground.

Looking at the tracks, he could see that one of them had pulled away from the ceiling. Struggling, he pushed the garage door up as high as he could get it, giving him enough space to walk under, and enough height to back the car out.

A pile of termite droppings had fallen to the floor. Another paradise price. They’d eaten away the wall area to which the track had been attached, and the screws had pulled out. Alika could also see part of the wire from the keypad to the garage door motor hanging from the ceiling. He examined the end and saw that it had been gnawed.

“Rats,” he said aloud.

He added termite spray to the list and then opened the car door. Scruffy jumped in, taking the passenger seat. He immediately began scratching himself. Alika took out the list and added flea medication. Musn’t forget that.

“Well,” he said to Scruffy, “if we can’t kill everything, at least we can slowly poison ourselves to death so we won’t have to worry about all of them anymore.”

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