by Tamara Anna Pawlak
Photo from Freestocks/Unsplash
The only problem he had was feeding them. The smell he could get used to. The little clattering noises they made with their teeth...
Leo was a pack rat.
Walking through his house—it looked like an ordinary house. But that was before you looked in the closets. That’s only if you didn’t lift the oversized comforter and checked under the bed. That’s only if you didn’t make it to the back of the house and opened the garage door. Did you check in the garage? Ah, that’s why you didn’t see them. Most of the collection is there—in the garage.
But Leo didn’t keep just anything. Oh, no. Leo was a discerning pack rat. Old newspaper clippings, junk from the thrift store, random pilings chucked to the side of the road, obsessive amounts of Christmas ornaments—he kept none of that—wouldn’t touch any of it. Leo hated junk. He hoarded—if you want to call it that—one thing and one thing only. And lucky enough, there was always room for one more.
By now I’m guessing you already know what it is—you could tell by the smell, I’m sure. It’s one of those things that kept him from having a ‘normal’ life—you know, friends, a girlfriend, kids in the future. All of that was out of the picture—and he knew it. But it was a sacrifice he was willing to make. All so that he could keep his prized collection.
The only problem he had was feeding them. The smell he could get used to. The little clattering noises they made with their teeth—that didn’t keep him up at night. But they were always so hungry. Starving even. Always needing to eat, and sometimes, Leo couldn’t keep up with them. But luckily, that was one of those things that took care of itself. It was actually kind of convenient. When they were starving, they would turn on themselves.
Yup, those little teeth of theirs helped a great deal. When he ran out of food and didn’t feel like going to the store—on days he couldn’t get out of bed—and there were a lot of those—he listened to them rustle in their cages beneath his bed. Those little mouths, they would find food, whether or not he dished it out.
He’d listen to the piercing shrieks of the ones being eaten alive. Once the first bite was taken, they would all pounce on the victim. Like a feeding frenzy. Like one of those Shark Week episodes he’d seen on TV. It was a relief for him really, the sound of nature taking its course—children helping their daddy keep house. If he wanted to stay in bed an extra day, he could. Going to the store could wait an extra day or two or three...
Leo was a pack rat—and that’s what he kept.
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