Rick's Space: The rodent parade in the attic

Deadly Vermin Who Squat In The Night

They are all over the house — we hear them at night, plotting our demise.

Time was when squirrels were a welcome addition to our new life together, but things are turning ugly now. Oh sure, they were cute enough, dancing on the wires outside our window and teasing our dogs. Not anymore.

If we lived in a normal world, I could send Karen up to the attic with a BB-gun and have her pick off as many as she could before they took her out. Then the dog and me would go up with an automatic and finish the job.

A word about attics. I live in the Land Of No. In the old days, you could walk up the stairs to the attic and store things up there like Christmas ornaments and the like.

Nowadays, attics are basically illegal. You can’t put up Sheetrock. You can’t sleep up there. You can’t put a bathroom up there. You can’t even GET up there. I asked the builder what the deal was, and he said they are considered fire hazards, which is dumb. If you were in the attic and the house caught fire, you could just jump off the roof.

Somehow, we lived 10 years in our East Hampton house before realizing we couldn’t access the attic. Inside the closet of a spare room on the second floor is a roughly two by two-foot square opening. That, ladies and gentlemen, is the sole access point to the third floor. No one, to my knowledge, has successfully maneuvered it except the Cablevision guy, who inexplicably s shimmied up in search of some obscure splitter and, to my knowledge, never came back.

I once elicited an opinion from a guy concerning the removal of a certain business associate who owed me money.

You know who “The Guy” is — he’s gonna get rid of the squirrels, no questions asked. Get rid of like in permanently.

“Your soffit is in bad shape,” he reported.

“You should see my liver,” I replied.

He wanted five large to complete the assignment. Karen asked five large what — pastrami?

My favorite movie is “Alien.” I love when Sigourney Weaver gets shipped up to eradicate the little monsters, who live in rooms filled with muke and occasionally live in your stomach. I have reached the point when I have nightmares they are scampering all over the house ready to make their move so we have to do something.

Last night, it came to a head. It was pitch dark, around 3 AM. It sounded like a parade up there.

“What the hell are they doing?” Karen wondered.

“Maybe they are bringing the Cablevision guy back down.”

The funny thing is, we had squirrels in Brooklyn, too, and they were normal and friendly and came up to the door for snacks and there was no hint of abhorrent behavior. In fact, for a long time I thought the Brooklyn squirrels had summer places in the Hamptons and probably caught a Jitney on Fridays. But I can’t recall seeing or hearing one in the house. But it is the country. A man has to defend what’s his or they’ll snatch it away in a heartbeat. Them’s wild vermin out there, suitable for stew and not much else.

Hey, this may not be a planet overrun with mukey rodents yet, but . . .

“I think they are squatting in our house,” Karen said.

I love it when she talks dirty.

I’m getting a bad feeling — what if it’s raccoons ready to take the house? Papa once told me, of all the rodents he personally encountered, the raccoon was the fiercest. It seems he had a big drum of chicken feed and when he took the top off, a raccoon was inside and bit his face. The thing then took on Boots, our grizzled German Shepherd, and was getting the better of him as well. Thank god, a braless Sigourney Weaver walked by wearing nothing but a tight T-shirt and the poor thing was distracted long enough for Papa to nail him with a shovel.

It’s 3 AM. They are everywhere — the walls, the roof, right outside the bedroom windows. Sure, it could be squirrels, or raccoons, or Chuckie, that fat ugly rabbit that lives under the porch in the backyard. Cocoa, my eight-pound dog, is on the alert; the only line of defense. “Tonight, we may have to fight it out,” I say to her. “What you mean ‘we,’ Kemosabe?” she answers.

Maybe it’s symptomatic of a changing world — cute is becoming ugly, and we are suspicious rather than intrigued at change. Maybe the poor squirrels just want to get closer to us. I just hope they don’t want to live in our stomachs.

Rick Murphy is a six-time winner of the New York Press Association Best Column award as well as the winner of first place awards from the National Newspaper Association and the Suburban Newspaper Association of America and a two-time Pulitzer Prize nominee.

rmurphy@indyeastend.com