INTRODUCTION: This week’s article is set to an experimental format. What follows is a collaboration of Lil Red’s (that’s the spouse) words, and this writer’s attempt to place it into a written form from her perspective.

Being married to a man called Chainsaw can be an interesting challenge at times…and nothing like anyone would expect. The strangeness mingles with tenderness, and the subtle insanity of him is rather endearing. His constantly shifting, eclectic interests in collectables, antiquities and oddities is where it becomes challenging. In the years we’ve shared I’ve learned there are certain places he should not be allowed to venture out to on his own. For fear of what may return with him.

Thrift stores are a big red flag, especially where brass instruments are concerned. In the past he has returned with a banged-up tuba and a full saxophone still in the case…he can’t play either. His wants to keep the tuba as encouragement to quit smoking; which I cannot argue…aside from the early morning OOMPAS. The saxophone, (which could easily be resold at a generous profit), sigh…he wants to paint it blue and create a Blues Brothers art piece. I find it best not to question his artistic integrity, but his financial logic is another story.

In the past week I’ve discovered that pet stores are also not a place to leave a Chainsaw unattended, when recently, our grandson, Gabriel showed interest in having a “pet” my husband insisted upon rats. Due to his extensive knowledge and experience with small critters, I gave no argument…but rats? I was thinking more along the lines of a bunny, or even a hamster, guinea pig or gerbil. (No, because they bite, they’re stupid and gawd-da-mighty they throw poops on the floor-—so I am informed). Despite my skepticism, two rats (named Rorschach and Dave) were purchased, and have taken up residence in our home. As it turns out they make for wonderful little companions, they’re fun to watch and interact with. Also, unlike many other small pets, they rarely become aggressive; making them perfect for being handled by a curious, yet nervous, 6 year old. However a small problem became apparent when Mr. Chainsaw and Gabe went out to buy the amicable little vermin some foodstuffs (without my supervision).

They returned with several packages of food and a small box with holes punched in the top. Before I could even ask, a deeply heartfelt (and obviously pre-planned and thought out) explanation was given. They were looking in at some of the small feeder rats. These little fellows are bred for the exclusive purpose of becoming meals for pet reptiles, primarily large snakes. Chainsaw looks upon them with sympathy and sorrow. For him, bringing any creature into this world to live a cramped, unkempt existence, only to face a certain horrific death, is wrong. He fears for the day when Gabe figures all this out. He was going to just walk away when one small grey rat caught his attention. The little fellow peered out from amongst a pile of its sleeping brethren and looked into his soul. The rat then introduced itself by name and begged, “I don’t want to die! Please save me!” which my husband did without hesitation.

The fact that he says the rat “spoke to his soul” doesn’t surprise me or give cause for panic or worry for his mental stability. Chainsaw carries on conversations with inanimate objects, unseen entities, stuffed bears and the Grim Reaper on a regular basis, so hearing a rat speak falls into the realm of normal for him. Who am I to argue? Perhaps his plane of existence is slightly askew from the rest of us and perhaps he can communicate with things in ways we cannot fathom…or maybe he just truly is bat-s**t crazy.

Either way I love him and so I responded with the obvious question inquiring what the latest addition to our animal populations name was. Slowly he opened the box and revealed… (OMG it was so little and cute) his name is Dourmu. Dourmu??? “Is that even a real word?” I asked. He shrugged and said he didn’t know, but regardless, that was the little guy’s name. At least that’s what the rat had said.

In the growing years I have known this man, I have seen him take compassion on many things. Abandoned, cast-off inanimate objects that he breathes a second life into, helpless living creatures that he wishes a better world for, and though his mannerism is oft crude and unyielding, he occasionally expresses it through silent action for his fellow man.

Looking at the small ball of fluff, understanding there is a profound amount of real-world symbolism cradled so gently in his hands, I look to him and say what is needed to be said. Telling him what he already knows, “You can’t rescue them all.”

He looks to me with those eyes that can shift from the darkest green to the deepest blue depending on his mood. They’re crystal clear lakes of sincere emotion today. He takes a thoughtful breath and says, “Every now and again, whether it be of mice or men, you have to take a chance and hope that by saving one you can make a difference.” I couldn’t agree more.

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