Appalachia Mountain River Rats

Cryptozoology's newest member

It has become clear my family and I will not be able to even approach replicating the living situation we enjoyed in the Gambill Building. We can’t find the square footage, the charm, nor even the price per square foot we enjoyed while leasing space from Linda Combs, with whom we all fell in love.  

She has become an official member of the Long family. We don't know how she will take the last bit of news but it was meant as a compliment.  

What little rental space exists in Breathitt and its immediately surrounding counties is grossly overpriced for what it is and for where it is. This appears to be an immediate area problem as opposed to an isolated one.

The surrounding counties find adequate, affordable rental space at a premium. It is definitely a lessors’ market.

We have been looking for substitute rental housing. What we have found instead maybe a new member of the budding Cryptozoological field.

"Cryptozoology" is the search for and study of animals whose existence or survival is disputed or unsubstantiated. The Loch Ness Monster, the Chupacabra, and the Sasquatch are just three examples from among the pantheon of its members.

We may have, just now, discovered a new member: the Appalachia Mountain River Rat. It may be the scariest of the entire lot, particularly if you abhor rodents, love your pets, and fear for the safety of toddlers.

We went to look at a small house in a town an easy driving distance from where Bebe and I work. This house was about 800-square feet or so. It was lovely, though priced rather exorbitantly for the footage and location.  

We were set to pull the trigger and rent it, until Bebe asked the owner about the pet policy. The owner said pets were okay but we needed to look out for the “river rats.” 

We weren’t sure what a river rat was. Is this some code for the crack heads living down by the river? Is this referencing some rodent-like animal likened to rats? Is there a real, live rat which comes up from the river to attack and kill pets? 

Bebe turned to a good friend of hers from the faculty at Breathitt High. “A ‘river rat’ is a rat which lives in and around the river and grows to enormous size,” this co-worker told my wife. “Think a beaver-sized rat minus the fat tail.” Others consulted likened their size to a small dog or an amply built cat. 

We have been told they decimate neighborhood pets. We have been told they are capable of carrying off small children. Well, this is the first we have heard of this! 

How in the world has this monster been living in and around the Long family with us none the wiser about its existence? I called my son, William to learn what, if anything, he knew of the creature. William professed complete ignorance. Yeah, sure William…

Have they gotten to my own son? Is he being disingenuous with his family about the peril in which we have already been living? What have they promised or given William for his silence? How do I get “cut-in” on whatever William’s getting? 

Listen here, we should have been told about this “river rat” problem immediately upon moving here in 2019. How was this phenomenon hidden from us? At what lengths will the city/county leaders go to continue to conceal this from general knowledge.

Is this a real thing or has this legend been contrived in an effort to force me out of town? If you want me to leave, just tell me. 

I won’t stay where I am not wanted. You don’t have to invent fantastical, disgusting creatures.  

Is this as existent as the Sasquatch? Wait a minute, Sasquatch is entirely real…

This would really hurt tourism around the area. Kind of reminds me of the scene in the movie, “Jaws” where the mayor, concerned the shark infested waters will kill tourist season, insists a “local” get in the water regardless of what may be lurking just beneath the surface. 

I see in my mind’s eye our own mayor instructing me to “get in the river, Fletcher.” In my imagination, I hear the movie’s theme song playing over a river rat swimming straight for me. Oh no!

I called a friend of mine about the “river rats.” He told me he had lived in this county his entire life and much of it right on the river. 

He claimed to have never seen the first river rat. He laughed and called me gullible

I got off the phone knowing [like William, my own son] my friend had [also] been compromised. The “powers that be” had obviously gotten to both of them. 

There is a conspiracy afoot…a conspiracy to hide from public knowledge the existence of these mountain, river rats. What if the “missing person” reports around the Appalachia mountains are ALL river rat casualties?

I can live with a lot of things. I have lived a lot of places. I can abide a loss of status, I can weather the loss of a career. I can manage the uncertainty surrounding where I may live or even how I will live. I cannot, no sir; I will not live with “river rats.”

So I decided to look up “river rats.” Surely the internet will know whether this is a real creature. 

I found various definitions of “river rat.” There were a squadron of the Air Force called The River Rats which fought in southeast Asia during the Vietnam Conflict. “River Rat” is also a term for “A lower-class person living on or along a river.” There is also an aquatic club in Louisville, Kentucky which boasts of being an open water workout group calling itself “River Rats.”

Of course “river rat” is also an inordinately large rodent which lives around a river, chews up domestic pets, and runs off with small children. It is the last flavor of river rat which most reviles me. 

Then I started wondering if I am not looking at the whole thing too negatively. What if river rats can be domesticated? What if they can be trained to do cute tricks? What if we can fashion some sort of harness apparatus and walk them around the neighborhood bragging of their pedigree?

“That’s a fine looking river rat, Fletcher. Is he pure-bred? Where did you find him?” 

“Oh yes, it’s pure bred. I wouldn’t waste good money on anything other than a pure-breed and it’s a girl actually. We bought her from a championship breeder and had her flown here.” 

“It is a Kentucky River Ridge-back Red, extremely rare. I am hoping to breed her to my friend Glenn’s Kentucky Garbage-canned, Mud-rat. We plan on creating a new breed for the budding ‘River Rat’ show circuit. Would you like me to put you down for one of the litter?” 

I maybe missing one heck of a money-making opportunity. It also may be among the more disgusting things I have ever chosen for a topic. You pick.

This is Fletcher Long, and you can take this for whatever you find it worth but THAT’S THE LONG VERSION!

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