Gut Rumbles

December 09, 2003

rats in the basement

When I lived in Kentucky, I saw a lot of homes with earth-walled basements. Usually they had a coal chute leading to the coal bin, where I got my ass whupped more than once for using that chute as a slide and landing in the coal and getting all dirtified the way my daddy looked when he came home from the mine.

But, I digress...

Those earth walls were made of rocks and red clay, and they turned out pretty and smoothe if you wet them down and sculpted them. A lot of people did. The clay hardened like a brick and the rocks helped keep the wall nice and solid. I learned to love the smell of an earthen-walled basement.

But nobody could keep rats from burrowing into the basement. I remember all the rat-tunnels I saw back then and I remember more than once being in somebody's basement and hearing dirt hit the floor. I'd turn around and see a rat poking his head out of a freshly-dug tunnel in the wall.

I don't know if this story is true or not, but I heard my father and my Uncle Virgil tell identical versions, years apart. Several miners got likkered up on moonshine one night and saw a rat stick its head out of a freshly-dug tunnel in somebody's basement. The miners became pissed at the audacity of the rat and decided to get even.

They put together some dynamite (which was always readily available in a coal mining camp), hooked it up to a long fuse and shoved it as far as they could down the rat-hole. Then, they lit the fuse.

When the explosion occurred, it blew six outhouses right off their foundations. The rat tunnels were all inter-connected to the outhouses in the camp and the tunnels were filled with methane gas. That crap-gas went up in a blue flame that lit up the mountains. It made a noise louder than coal-trains coupling in the switchyard. People had fire and brimstone flying out of their basement walls. Rats with their asses on fire went running everywhere in the night. The Sheriff woke up and reached for his pistol. Widow wimmen pissed their beds. Little children started crying in fear.

According to local lore, no one ever confessed to setting off the dynamite that night, but everybody had a pretty good idea about who did it. They kept their mouths shut, however, and they never were arrested. Nobody got hurt, so the investigation was short and sweet, then forgotten.

I'm just glad that I wasn't sitting in one of those outhouses that night.


This one has got to be put in the book. When my Daddy was a little boy they had an outhouse and one day the chickens got stuck in it. My Daddy not knowing the depth thought he'd save the day. He always claimed to be the black sheep of the family and needed some attention. There were 12 of yours, mine, and ours. He got it alright. He was shoulder deep in shit. I always loved to hear my Daddy tell that story. I'm still laughing.

Posted by: Lexia on December 9, 2003 11:42 AM

Rats with their asses on fire went running everywhere in the night. The Sheriff woke up and reached for his pistol. Widow wimmen pissed their beds. Little children started crying in fear.

Didn't the same thing happen at the Georgia Blogmeet?

Just wondering.

Sloop New Dawn
Galveston, TX

Posted by: Jim on December 9, 2003 12:36 PM

Hee Hee! Thanks for the much-needed guffaw, this story just made my day a little better. I nearly shot my swig of sweet tea out my nose when I pictured a bunch of rats running around on fire.

Posted by: Paul G on December 9, 2003 02:09 PM

Paul! What are you doing here???!! I thought I told you that you're not supposed to be reading Acidhead's blog! It'll corrupt your fine young mind...well, whatever college didn't already corrupt.

And, even worse, A-man's a BULLDOG!


Posted by: Joan of Argghh! on December 9, 2003 02:37 PM

Is this the genesis of the term "Shithouse Rat"?

Posted by: "Ralphy" on December 9, 2003 04:59 PM

acidman, PLEASE hurry and write your book!! you have a gift, my man,a gift!!!

Posted by: mikeymom on December 9, 2003 05:49 PM

Effective writing. I laughed out loud.

Posted by: Key on December 9, 2003 05:52 PM

This sounded so much like a real story my dad would have told. My dad was a teenager during the depression and didn't serve in WWII only because he was blinded in one eye in an accident on the B&O Railroad in West Virginia. I actually know what it's like to visit family who only had outhouses and no real indoor plumbing.

What a great story Acidman.

Posted by: Commander Will on December 9, 2003 06:19 PM

Oh my. I needed that. That was so funny. Thank you.

Posted by: Wichi Dude on December 9, 2003 06:50 PM

I rarely comment, but gotdam that was funny.

Posted by: Cinciphil on December 9, 2003 06:56 PM

Ah, yes, dynamite stories. Anyone ever gone fishing with "Hercules night crawlers" or "DuPont dry flies"? Just a punch line to one: "Did you come to talk; or fish?"

Posted by: Justthisguy on December 9, 2003 07:43 PM

I really believe that I just posted a true story.

Posted by: Acidman on December 9, 2003 09:34 PM
Post a comment