On Thursday, I asked my husband, Albert, if he smelled something — there was a slight, but penetrating whiff of something near our refrigerator. We didn’t smell anything inside it, but by Friday, there was no doubt. Something had died under the fridge. We poked sticks under it, but nothing emerged. We moved it as best we could and saw nothing — Shabbas — not to order and beauty, but to an overwhelming stench. Shabbos or no Shabbos, I said that we had to move the fridge, take off the back and look in the works of it. We did, and found, near the motor, a dead rat the size of a chihuahua. Lifting it up and taking it out was no picnic, either. The rat had probably been killed by the fan, and there were its fluids to be mopped up as well, and the fridge cleaned out because some of the smell had penetrated it too.

What I received from this experience is the rarest hint of what the aftermath of a battle must be like. W e see the dead in pictures and films. Rober Graves, telling of his experiences in World War One, described a battlefield as a soup of mud full of bodies. If one rat could smell like this one did, I can only begin to imagine that part of was that has rarely been spoken of but must be an overwhelming part of the experience.