MARTY RUSSELL: Rodent work suggests faulty cats

By Marty Russell

I fired my two cats Monday. They obviously hadn’t been doing their jobs so I gave myself the worst comb-over I could manage, called them in and fired them both.
I got into my truck Monday to run some errands and started the engine. As soon as it cranked the entire truck started shaking like it had the chills. It wasn’t just running rough, it was more like it was running roughshod over a field of very large boulders. I was swaying in the driver’s seat.
I immediately shut it down so my brain would stop bouncing around in my skull and I could think. It had been running fine just the day before with no indication that it was about to take up the pogo stick. What could have happened overnight that would cause it to behave this way, I wondered?
There was the storm system that blew through Sunday night and Monday morning. Could the wind have blown something into the engine? Not likely. The front grill would have caught it and, besides, a stick under the hood wouldn’t cause this kind of behavior. I looked at the odometer. I was just 200 miles shy of hitting 50,000. Could the truck’s computer have shut everything down in order to force a 50,000-mile check-up? Maybe, but that seemed a little drastic even for the auto industry.
After a few minutes of pondering I arrived at the most likely scenario. My truck had been possessed by the restless spirit of a hoochy-coochy dancer.
I decided to try it again in one of those moments of desperation when you throw rationale out the window and just hope that it was a one-time thing, like maybe the engine was just bloated with gas and needed to burp.
Nope. It did it again only this time the dreaded “Check Engine” icon suddenly appeared on the dashboard, the automotive equivalent of DefCon Five, the end of the world. I figured I had three choices. I could shut it down and have an expensive piece of yard art, I could attempt to make it to the dealership or I could call an exorcist. I decided to head for the dealer, jerking and sputtering and threatening to die (the truck, not me) all the way.
“Your No. 2 injector isn’t working,” the mechanic told me.
“Rats,” I said. I didn’t know what an injector was but it sounded expensive.
“Exactly,” the mechanic said. “Or maybe mice or squirrels. Something has chewed through the wiring.”
Aaargh! Why hadn’t I thought of that? It should have been obvious. Rodents had eaten my truck.
So now I have to figure out how to keep it from happening again since I obviously can’t depend on the cats. Maybe hire a snake to live under the hood? Wrap the entire hood in protective screening? Set traps? The mechanic recommended mothballs but that solution stinks, literally. Any suggestions?
Marty Russell writes a Wednesday column for the Daily Journal. He can be reached at

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