Story by Mary Grace Mauney
It was Valentine’s day, and Jenner was trying, as always, to woo Miss Blatz. “What,” he wondered aloud in the bachelor pad he shared with his brother, “Would she like best? What can I best win her over with?”
He knew, of course, that the usual gifts for women on Valentine’s were things like cards, flowers, and chocolate. But he wanted to do something bigger, better, more personal, more special. He wasn’t any old Tom, Dick, or Harry, he was Jenner the rat, and his present had to be UNFORGETTABLE!
And unforgettable it was. Though not the way he had intended. When he knocked on the door of Miss Blatz’s charming miniature Southern estate, he was greeted by her with a polite but un-enthusiastic, “Oh. Jenner. How lovely to see you. Er, uh…happy Valentine’s day.”
“And a happy Valentine’s day to you too, toots!” Jenner made up for her lack of enthusiasm with plenty of his own, and held up a sizeable (by rat standards) box, thrusting it in her face, “For you!”
“Oh, er, my, you shouldn’t have…” said Miss Blatz, carefully undoing the string that tied the lid to the box. As soon as it was loosened, the lid exploded off as the fat warty hop-toad within leaped out, flying over Miss Blatz’s head and landing square on the rug behind her.
“Augh!” Miss Blatz exclaimed, her paws flying to her cheeks, “Take it away! Get it out of here! How horrid!”
“But I worked so hard to catch it…” Jenner didn’t understand her reaction. Who wouldn’t want a big toad to chase around and fight with and maybe eventually eat?
Before he could retrieve his gift, Sam had come running down the stairs to see what all the fuss was about, and immediately gathered the toad up in her little arms, “I’ve always wanted a pet! Thanks, Jenner!”
With that, she scurried back up the stairs, oblivious to the protests of Miss Blatz following her from below.
“Oh, wonderful!” said Miss Blatz, turning back to Jenner with her hands on her fat hips, “Now it’s going to live in my house!”
“I’ll make it up to ya, babe!” Jenner assured her, patting her shoulder, “Be right back!”
When he returned, he was dragging a chainsaw behind him, strapped to a skateboard so that he could roll it along easier.
“Here ya go!” he said, “Betcha love me now, right?”
“Er, well, it’s better than the toad, I suppose…” Miss Blatz said, “But what on Earth am I to do with it?”
“You can take zombies down with it!” Jenner explained, “And carve up old sheds and wooden stuff! And make it VROOOOM at people when they pass by! I’ve thought a lot about this, I’ve always wanted one!”
“Ah,” said Miss Blatz, “That may be your problem, Jenner. You see, I’m not you. Perhaps you’d do better to think outside the sphere of things that only YOU would like.”
Jenner considered, and then once more he said, “Be right back.”
When he next returned, it was with what he claimed was a gourmet chicken. This, he felt, was sure to do the trick; rats, unlike most rodents, were NOT herbivores. They loved meat! But when Miss Blatz eagerly looked in the hotpot that he’d brought, there was nothing in there, not even bones, just a note.
“What does it say?” asked Miss Blatz, picking up the gravy-stained piece of paper in her dainty pink paws, reminding Jenner that she was blind. She senses things so well with her whiskers it was very easy to forget this fact.
“Thanks for lunch, signed Justin,” Jenner fumed as he read off the letters, “Why that---oooh, I’ll get him! Hang on! Be right back!”
As he ran off to get revenge on his gluttonous brother, it occurred to Jenner that Miss Blatz had been wearing her Migrubbie, with its pretty frilly Tabby Vest Accessory in place…and he realized that he knew the perfect gift her. He stopped in his tracks so fast that his paws actually dug into the earth, and then turned and began running in the direction of the Mister Migs Boutique.
When he rang the doorbell on Miss Blazt’s home for the fourth time, she was losing her patience, “Jenner, please---“
“Feel it,” he said, and thrust forth the gorgeous MigDiva that he had gotten her. Miss Blatz gasped as she touched the little skirt, the lacy petticoat, the frills and the fray.
“Do you like it?” Jenner asked.
“I love it.” Miss Blatz held the sartorial wonder to her chest.
“So you’ll go out with me now.”
“It doesn’t work like that,” Miss Blatz looked back up at him, sounding weary, “You don’t just pick the right prize and get a date. I’m not a vending machine, Jenner.”
“What?” Jenner didn’t understand.
Miss Blatz explained, “You think if you punch in the right combination, give me the right thing, then I’ll give you what you want. It doesn’t work like that. It’s up to me if I like you or not, if I want to date you or not.”
“And? Do you want to date me?”
“I don’t want to date anyone,” said Miss Blatz, “I’m all about looking after Sam, and working at Mister Migs, and spending time with my friends, like Sadie Lynn and Hazel. I’m simply not interested in romance, be it with you or anyone else.”
“Oh,” Jenner didn’t know what to say to this.
“We can still be friends, I hope?”
“Sure,” said Jenner, still sounding a little lost. He’d really thought that if he just did everything right, she’d have been his for sure. But if she said that it didn’t work like that, then, well, he supposed she was the one who’d know…
After a polite goodbye, he toddled off, and watched the sunset, deep in thought about just what it means to be a rat in love.