Eastern Market is an upscale area with a lot of beggars in it. And by beggars, I mean vermin.
Perhaps the absolute worst part of living on Eighth Street SE (and there were many bests, don’t get me wrong) was sharing quarters with dozens and dozens of terrier-sized rats. It was a constant battle to keep the wretched beasts, attracted by the wafting scents of Barracks Row’s many mediocre restaurants, away from our apartment.
A few blocks east is a more pleasant insurgent underclass: feral cats (sources within the cat community tell me “alley cat” is a pejorative). The downside: The incessant late-night whining for food, the face-to-face midnight begging when I step off my stoop.
The upside: No rats.
The first time I was awakened by what surely seemed like a crying baby in the wee wee hours, I was startled. Should I call 911? Who left their baby outside? Of course it was no baby, but a clever feline who’d honed his call to one that held the same notes as an infant’s wail.
Now that I realize there is an entire community of wild cats roaming our streets and alleys, I sleep better, even during the meowing months. For when you know there are gangs of hungry wild hunting cats around, you can be sure there are no rats.