I usually pick up Krissy from work at about the same time every day. I try to get there a good fifteen minutes before she gets off work officially in case she gets out early. Today was no exception.
The sun was shining and it was even a little too warm in the car when the rain started to fall. There is a relatively new law in the State of California requiring all motorists to turn their lights on when driving in rain. This I did, as I usually do when it starts to sprinkle. When I got to Krissy's workplace I turned off the engine and slid over into the passenger seat and laid back while listening to the radio. It was taking a little longer than usual for Krissy to leave the building and walk out to the car, so I reclined the chair. While I was thus reclined the radio went dead. I thought there might be an emergency alert that was preempting the program I was listening to, but it stayed dead for more than ten seconds. It was at this point that I realized exactly what had happened.
I scrambled to turn off any and all electricity sapping accouterments, including the headlights and then tried to start the car. The engine pretended for a moment that it was going to start, but the starter ran out of juice in the attempt. The sunshine had made me forget the lights were on, and I hadn't opened the door when I arrived and never got the annoying whine telling me to switch the headlights off.
Dejected, I popped the trunk and removed the jumper cables. Another ten minutes passed in abject silence. When Krissy finally emerged I leaped from the car holding the cables over my head so she could see there was a problem. This turned out to be just another frustration in a long, difficult work day. We asked Marlon, one of her coworkers, to assist us in jump starting the car. Neither of us were really too experienced, but between the both of us we got the cars properly linked and started. Ready to congratulate ourselves on a job well done we started toward the cars to remove the cables from the batteries. That's when Krissy saw it.
"What's that!?" Krissy cried curiously. We both looked but saw nothing. She kept verbally nudging us until we both saw what she had seen. There was a little brown furry puffball in a little space wedged between the hinge of the hood and the body of the car. "I think I saw it move," Krissy said, a little more cautiously than at first. As I looked more closely at this thing, I began to see what appeared to be little sprawling feet attatched to stumpy legs. I began to feel ill as I realized what I was looking at.
"Is it alive?" I questioned. "Are you sure that you saw it moving? I think it's dead." What's worse than a dead rat, you ask? Krissy broke a branch off of a tree in the parking lot and tried to get Marlon to take it. Grasping for any reason not to go near the car again he came up with some lame excuse, and the branch was handed to me instead. I chose to approach from behind and to the side. I hit the side of the car, and the rat quvered, but maintained its supposed safe position. I wasn't getting anywhere. I gave the branch to Krissy, and she came at it from the fron of the car.
When Krissy touched the little guy, he didn't run out of the car as was hoped for, but rather, he burrowed in deeper and deeper until it was presumed that he was stuck. We could no longer see him and it appeared the he had dropped down behind the wheel well in front of the passenger door. Now I didn't know what to do. Krissy was not happy about this development. All I could imagine was the rat getting stuck in there until it died and began to stink up the car. We wanted him out, so we called the best car expert we know, Randy. He didn't sound too keen on dismantling the panels on the car, but he agreed to take a look.
When we got to Randy's he came out and I lifted the hood. Randy poked his head around a whole lot closer that I ever would have, but didn't see anything. He was convinced we should just wait it out and that the rat would leave our car after he ralized that there was nothing there for him. Just then, Randy spotted the rat behind the engine touching something called the firewall. The rat was obviously not trapped, and had proven that he could get out of the car any time he wanted to.
When we went back inside, Randy's wife, Joanna, decided she would give the rat a name. After trying a bunch of different ones the name Firewall seemed to stick. As far as we know Firewall the rat is still perched happily in the engine cavity of the car enjoying its warmth and dryness.
Incidentally, while we were outside it began to rain a little bit, and there was an amazing rainbow over Randy's apartment building. I didn't have my camera for any of this, which upset me almost as much as foolishly letting the battery die. I asked Randy if he had a digital camera in the apartment. I ran back outside and quickly snapped a few shots in the rain.