The Caribbean Rat and the Four Magicians: A true but slightly embellished account of a traumatic event at a YWAM base

“A story of historic bravery and tenacity!” Editor, Grit & Courage Magazine


At the very end of this account I’ll give surprising “rest of the story,” but first…

Recently Ruthie and I got back from a two-week teaching excursion to Mayreau, a tiny island of St. Vincent and the Grenadines. One hundred yards from the YWAM base where we were teaching, one can see the sea on all four sides.

It was an amazing time of students and staff getting totally free from rejection, shame, trauma, rebellion, fear, inadequacy, and finding a place as a son and daughter in the heart of God. Light bulbs of revelation were clicking on like Christmas tree lights concerning their value and identity in God. After the first glorious week of lives being radically changed...

...the rat showed up. Yes…the rat!

We never did see him, or to be politically correct: or her. Her, or his—presence—Rats! Forget the correctness! It was a guy rat; I could tell by the droppings. Anyways, his nightly presence was known especially by the chewed food every night on the kitchen counter of Josh and Renita’s house. Unfortunately Josh didn’t tell us about the rat till after three days of us feasting on the chocolate chip cookie bars that sat on the counter all week—chocolate chips?????

Most of us don’t like mouses, but this illusive rat, Josh said could be the size of a small cat—that has an intimidation factor of like 23.6 mouses (according to a reliable report on Google). Josh found the hole where the rascal was coming in, a sewer pipe that came into his and Renita’s bedroom closet, and so he stuffed it with rocks. He told us that rats can get in any place that they can get their head through. Have you ever seen a rat head? It’s the size of small super-hot jalapeño.

Growing up, my mom always used to tell me to wear clean underwear in case I was in an accident, and that the zoning in Mayreau didn’t allow rats. Man, was she wrong!

Anyway, a whole bunch of us from the base were watching this movie in Josh’s house, about four crooked magicians called, Now You See Me. Some of us were on the couches surrounding the screen, and some were sitting on chairs behind. The lights were off. Suddenly chaos erupted when the girls began screaming. It seems as if Mr. Rat decided to walk into the room like Carly Simon’s You’re So Vain, walk underneath the legs of those on the couch and head toward the fridge.

One of the girls, whose name I won’t mention because on other occasions she is extremely sharp and intelligent, thought it was a bunny rabbit hopping underneath Sandy’s legs—a bunny rabbit!!!! It was at this point that the others recognized it to be a R.O.U.S. (look it up on Google if you don’t get out much or ask someone who does!) and began screaming. Renita and little baby Lilly ended up on top of the table and all the other girls immediately jumped up on chairs, rafters, and some grabbing the blades of the moving ceiling fan to escape the intimidation of the rat. (For those of you with basic intelligence—the part about jumping on the couch and chairs is true—the ceiling fan is NOT true—it is a creative embellishment for stylish intentions!)

Sandy’s husband, Tim, grabbed a long stick and began probing to find Rascal Rat. We knew the general area he ran to in the kitchen (the living room, dining room and kitchen are one big room.) I bravely volunteered to stay way back near the living room part to make sure the girls did not panic, assuring them that Tim and I will protect them. I also guarded the sliding porch screen door in the living room to make sure the rat didn’t run out there or get close to the fearful females.

After about 15 minutes of Tim searching high and low for the rat, pulling out the range, looking on top of the cabinets, shining a flashlight under the fridge, Tim went into the attached utility room and brought out to me a pair of massive bright-yellow skin-diving flippers. They were not the kind you get at Walmart. For you older folk, they were the kind Lloyd Bridges wore in the popular TV show of the 60’s Sea Hunt.He handed them to me—no explanation—and then went back to poking under the cabinets.

So I figured that the flippers were either…

1. We were going to chase the rat down the hill to Salt Whistle Bay, into the water—or…

2. He wanted me to look like a dork so the rat wouldn’t be afraid of me, and come out and then we would kabong him on his jalapeño. Or…

3. He was protecting me from the rat running out and biting my toes before escaping back to his hole.

Whatever the reason, I proceeded to put them on, until he informed me that they were to HIT the rat with when he came out. Of course, how could I not know? Google’s three best ways to kill a rat:

1. poison

2. rat trap

3. big yellow skin-diving flippers (thanks Tim!)

Time elapsed to no avail. It was just like the movie we were watching about the disappearing magicians: now you see me—now you don’t. That rat was nowhere to be found. (The four magicians had even done the traditional disappearing rabbit trip—so had Jennes…I mean, the girl, actually and strangely seen a real bunny rabbit?)

I reassured the panicking girls that it was okay to go back and finish the final 5 minutes of the movie, which we did—feet up. Me and Tim set the example of classic bravery.

After the movie, Ruthie and I then went to our bedroom out the screen door and to the right of the porch, for nighty-night. After a few minutes Ruthie said, “Bruce, they’re screaming. Do you hear that? The rat must have come out.” I said I didn’t hear it. (I didn’t want to hear it!) Ruthie thought we should go back over, but I assured her it was probably just the goats outside the window that often sounded like girls screaming over rats.

So we went to sleep.

The next morning we came out on the porch to gaze at the gorgeous blue green hues of Salt Whistle Bay way down below our second-story porch, when Sandy emerged out of the rat-infested apartment where she and Tim were staying, and exclaimed, “You wouldn’t believe what happened last night right after you went in!”

Ruthie exclaimed in return, “Did the rat come out?”

Sandy replied, “No. But a giant centipede came running out.”

Now, for you Americans: The centipedes that we are referring to are not the delicate ones that I often see running across my bathroom floor in Lancaster County, PA. They look like armored, robot, warring varmints that you might see in a contemporary sci-fi movie. I kill ours with TP; they kill theirs by dropping a concrete block on their head, and even then, they live. 

Well, Sandy told us the story of the centipede, and then, after that, she told us, a giant cockroach came out and came straight at Sandy. She is terrified of cockroaches over 3 pounds. One of the girls laughed so hard she wet her pants.

Later that morning Josh, who incidentally, had not been there to experience the trauma, concreted the sewer pipe hole, and Mr. Rat was not seen again, neither were any centipedes or roaches. Eventually Tim wiped up the puddle, and life returned to normal!

Oh yes, then there was Jes. She is on staff there. Jes, a bit smugly, told me she isn’t afraid of dippy rats. She told me how she executed two rats with a high powered BB gun at another base—Oh, is that right, Jes? Amazing! Wow! Good for you! By the way, Jes, someday I’d like to introduce you to the rest of the world!

Oh, yes, The Rest of the Story, as Paul Harvey would say: We thought it quite intriguing that all the above happened...

...on Halloween night.

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