The old country barn had long since out lived its useful purpose of giving food and shelter to horses and cows. The wooden round barrels stood empty against the inside barn walls. Only bits of corn husk and a few pieces of stray oats still remained. The tin roof covering the top of the barn that used to be shining in the sunlight was now rusty and brown. The big heavy doors of the barn swung open and closed as the strong winters wind blew against them. Wooden boards along the inner walls had given way to age allowing traces of sunlight, wind and rain to enter willingly. The fields surrounding the old barn were over grown with tall broom straw and weeds giving fair warning to all that the farm was no longer in use by farmers.
Inside the barn however, things were not as quiet as one might think they would be. True there were no horses to plow the fields or cows to provide milk but there were hundreds of barn rats that called the old barn their castle. There were twelve families of rats living in the barn and they were ever so grateful to call it home. So happy were they that they kept it as clean and neat as any rat or field mouse might do. Most of the older rats had lived there for decades and continued to multiply adding to the rat population. Many others had chosen to venture outside the barn to explore the fields and meadows. Rats do have a very active social life despite what most people think and love to enjoy life to the fullest. So it was for the younger rats in this old abandoned country barn.
The most popular female rat was fancy Frieda who spent all of her time reading old cartoons and crafting exotic dresses to wear in her dance performances. She collected pieces of cloth from everywhere and even had mice that were scavengers bringing her colorful bits and pieces daily to add to her priceless collection. She knew and loved cartoon characters and was the best seamstress anywhere around.
Everyone knows if there is a popular female then there has to be a popular male as well. This would of course be the sleek and debonair Sonny Redfern whose magic voice could capture any female rat’s heart. Sonny and his band would play their handmade instruments providing rock and roll music for all the rats. Frieda and Sonny kept things really rocking along every weekend. The band used all sorts of things for instruments. Some played sticks, some bottles, some cow bells, some discarded washboards, and some played bongo drums made from forgotten items stored in the barn. There was no instrument however that could woo the girls like the smooth and sexy voice of the handsome Sonny Redfern. Together Frieda and Sonny provided the rats with a jammin good time down in the old forgotten country barn.
Week by week the news spread across hill and dale. It wasn’t long before the barn was reeling and rocking to the best of Sonny Redfern and his Rocking Field Rats. Everyone was invited but all females had to bring food. The male rats took turns standing watch for any wicked predators who might happen upon the scene.
No drugs or alcoholic beverages were allowed. The old lamps had to be polished; oil supplied and of course matches to light the wicks. This was also the tasks of the guys. The floor of the stalls had to be swept clean and the stage set each and every week. It was a busy time in the old wooden barn at Johnson’s Field Crossing in Middleburg, North Carolina. Middleburg was also known for its sweet ripe cantalopes every summer.
Now it came to be that the news not only spread to the rats but also to the rats that were willing to snitch to the cats in order to save their own hides. Since there were a good number of cats as well who were out to get a fat rat for dinner this was a common practice. There was one rat named Tubby who had only escaped the bite from the teeth of the cat by crying out he could provide even bigger and better rats for the cat to eat. Now in order to carry out this Tubby had to tell the big male cat named Chicko about the shindig held in the barn every Saturday night. Chicko of course told all of his friends in the cat community and they planned to raid the barn the next Saturday night.
All week the rats cleaned, polished, swept, brought oil and matches to the barn preparing for their shindig on Saturday night. They did not know that lots of glowing eyes were watching from a distance taking note of every move that they made. Tubby meanwhile told all the males that he would stand watch all evening and allow them all to participate in every dance. They could all bring a date and just kick back and enjoy themselves. Of course all the male rats took Tubby up on his generous offer. Dates were made and the clock was quickly ticking away!
Now it just so happened, Frieda heard Tubby talking to all the male rats. She knew there must be something fishy going on. Tubby only thought of Tubby and no one else. He had to be up to something and she was going to find out just what he was up to. There were two critters Frieda did not trust, one was Tubby and the other was a CAT!
Days went by quickly and it was Saturday morning. Everything was on schedule. Frieda had all of her dresses made and even helped out with the food supply. The stage was set, the lanterns lighted and all the guest had arrived. Each guest was given a program telling of the night’s events.
This is what it said:
“Now I wanna remind everyone of the House of Mouse Rules: No smoking. No villainous schemes and no guests eating other guests. Tonight, we have a show that won’t be forgotten.”
A drum roll gave its loud sound to announce the performers. All eyes were on the curtain and I do mean ALL eyes. Tubby stood outside all dressed in red nervously waiting for the unexpected guests to make their move. The band began to play, young female rats began to scream as Sonny came sliding out onto the stage. He took the microphone and began to sing in his deep sexy voice. The crowd went wild with screams of delight. Rats were jumping up and down, waving their hands in the air and clapping to the music.
Tubby gave the signal and all the cats took their positions fixing their eyes on the fat rats they hoped to have for dinner. “One, Two, Three, Go!” Tubby shouted in a loud voice. The cats made a lunge for the barn door.
Suddenly out of no where there came a loud crash and the lanterns all fell off their stands pouring oil and fire onto the barn floor. Rats scurried to and fro to escape the flames. Tubby barred the door and locked it from the outside hoping he would not be eaten by the cats. The cats were locked inside with the flames of fire. The rats scurried under the barn floor into their safety tunnels and then out into the fields. The barn went up in flames in only a matter of seconds. The home of the rats at Johnson Field Crossing was engulfed in flames. No one knows if the cats made it out or not. Frieda put the sling shot back in her dress pocket along with the white round stones used to break the glass in the lanterns.
She left the scene with these words: “I thought I saw a puddy cat”…..” Ah….That’s All Folks!”
You could hear her singing in the distance as she joined the other rats in the field. It went something like this:
“I yam what I yam and I yam what I yam that I yam.
And I got a lotta muscle and I only gots one eye
And I’ll never hurt nobodys and I’ll never tell a lie
Top to me bottom and me bottom to me top
That’s the way it is ‘til the day that I drop
What am I?
I yam what I yam and a loyal friend is what I yam!”
They had lost their home but their lives had been saved by the actions of a quick thinking female rat who still read the cartoon section of the aged newspaper in the old barn loft. Ah… That’s all folks!
Written by Sybil Shearin
All Rights Reserved
Question: Who was the snitch?