Amazing Journey: 6.3

A Memeber Of The Koos "Rat Pack"


He had a snake the size of a sewer pipe living in his rib cage 

~ The Who

I know that it is not quite Halloween, but I thought that I would share this frightening and slightly disturbing tale that occurred during my amazing journey.

Earlier I mentioned the infamous Koos Jap Shack – where Japanese war prisoners were supposedly imprisoned during World War II. This rundown building served two functions, those being an “employee lounge” and storage shed.

The contents of each section had little in common. In the storage portion there were rusty machine parts and piles of empty fertilizer packaging that had become obsolete. Housed in this lounge was a toilet complete with sink, a couple of beat-up lockers and two dilapidated picnic tables.

However, there was one obvious common denominator for the two areas. It was filth, and plenty of it! If it was humid, everything was covered with a slimy film of mud that made the simple act of walking adventurous. If there was no humidity, you then had to contend with was dust and plenty of garbage.

Humidity or no humidity, there was always ample amounts of disgusting garbage spread throughout the Jap Shack. It was everywhere. The no-so fragrant trash made the employee lounge a less than desirable place when lunchtime rolled around. Hell, it made even using the toilet less than desirable.

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Occasionally when the piles of garbage in the employee lounge got too high and the conditions became intolerable, an employee was sent over to remove the revolting crud and make it somewhat tolerable. In 1975, on a warm, sultry summer afternoon, it was my turn to take on the hideous squalor that inhabited the Jap Shack.

With a half hour left in the shift Larry Hall, using his supervisory authority, ordered me to clean up the Jap Shack. He told me that Munk Ekern would be over with the front-end loader in about 15 minutes. He then informed me that I should get my fat ass moving.

Mumbling under my breath, I grabbed a shovel and push broom and trudged down the long flight of steps, out the back of the plant and made my way to the misery that awaited me. I trust it didn’t get past you that it required a front-end loader to remove the mounds of debris that infested the Jap Shack.

Here are the details of what this nasty job entailed. You started in one corner with the broom and shoved the garbage into piles. When the accumulation got too large, you shoveled it into the two garbage cans. When those were filled, you then started filling the foul-smelling mess into huge plastic bags.

Once all of the garbage was collected, you had to drag it over to the large door located in the storage section. That’s where the front-end loader comes into play. First you emptied the garbage cans into its’ bucket. You completed the job by tossing all of the bags on top so that the loose rubbish from the cans didn’t blow around as the driver hauled it away.

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Unfortunately, on that humid, sweltering summer afternoon in 1975, I never completed the job of cleaning the Jap Shack. Let me explain.

Oh, I almost finished it, but not quite. I had swept it all into enormous piles. I had shoveled the garbage into the garbage cans. After filling the cans, I shoveled the rest into the huge plastic bags.

After I did all of that, I dragged the first garbage can over to the door. All that was left was to get the other one and the bags so that they could be hauled away. Then the job would be finished.

But it never happened. Something occurred that prevented me from completing this miserable task. The first garbage can that I dragged over was a large round barrel, made of rubber with a removable lid. The second one was metal with a domed top that featured a swinging door.

When I inserted my hand inside that damned swinging door. “It” happened. “It” had been hiding inside waiting to shock and send fear into my very soul. “It” was hideous and it was poised inside that can aching to terrorize me, its’ unknowing victim. What was “It?”

“It” was a large, ugly, brownish rat dripping with disease that jumped out of the garbage can. “It” landed on my hand, preceded to crawl up my arm all the way to my shoulder. At that point, the rabies-infested rodent stopped on my shoulder, barred its pointed yellow teeth and stared deep into my eyes.

My thunderous scream evidently startled this fur-covered 10” long spawn of Satan, because it jumped off me as I ran for the door. Mercifully, I made it without being attacked by that furry bundle of evilness. I had escaped “it.”

Munk arrived shortly after with the front-end loader. He laughed uproariously, asked why I was trembling and where was the rest of the garbage. I proceeded to tell Munk, not so politely, to do something to himself that isn’t physically possible. I do believe the prince of profanity, Arno, would have been impressed with the language I used.

That’s why I never finished cleaning the Jap Shack. Thanks to that huge, horrifying rodent, the mounds of rotting trash in the Koos “employee lounge” would stay heaped by the door on that sultry summer afternoon in 1975.

Wow, yet another detour during this amazing journey of mine; this one featuring a gruesome rat and a Jap Shack. Who would have thought? What could possibly happen next to scar my young, fragile psyche?


He had a snake the size of a sewer pipe living in his rib cage