Haus had been Herr Doktor for ten years. A medic at the age of 15, he tended to the dying, the sick, those who shot themselves in the foot. An ampule of morphine for those who could be carried, two ampules for those who could not.
Pain and suffering seared into him at a young age as his uncles, brothers, father all died in that Great War. Then he was finally old enough to join himself, and shipped to the front lines in France He survived well enough until he too had been shot- another nameless noncombatant with a bullet that bounced off the femur and wedged neatly beside the sartorius.
The science of his wound wasn't learned until much later- a teenaged medic has little need for knowledge of muscles and bones. But the Charite Universitatsmedizin forced it onto him over and over- professors, students, patients always asking about his limp, the war, his lifestyle. When his human anatomy class covered the leg, half the class looked at him fondly- remembering their own lost friends and family from only five years prior. These things burned him, fueled his desire to destroy their anguish, his slowness at walking, their wanting to poke and fester wounds with their words and medical devices. The few- the remote few who had also survived the War kept away from him, knowing to not give into easy camaraderie over parallel memories. And so Haus learned on his own, starved on his own, pushing himself to the top of his class in both grades and swiftness. The years passed out from under him, a yesterdays of the Battle and then nothing in between. Clinicals, jazz cabaret with his prostitute girlfriend left behind as he was posted to a hospital in Dresden. His piano went with him as well as his dead great-uncle's Indian cane with an ivory handle tip.
Herr Doktor Haus ambled through a group of unknown doctors, his cane tapping out a path until he stopped before one.
"You're Jewish." He stated too loudly. They all stared at the other doctor with their silence then turned back to Haus with wary faces that refused to look at him in the face. The other doctor- standing rigid with his nondescript surname and his mundane appearance peered back at him with glittering brown eyes.
"And you've a limp, but I hope that you already figured that out."
In a hospital in Dresden, Herr Doktor Haus somehow acquired a friend.
The housekeeper hates the rodent. With an unending, passionate hatred. "They spread the plague!" She whines while dusting the covers of his books. "I refuse to work in such conditions."
House becomes quiet, his fingers steepling in a dramatic gesture, "Strangely enough, three mice infected with Yersinia pestis went missing about a year ago here in Jersey, and have never been found. Six months ago, I diagnosed and treated a patient who presented with the tell-tale buboes. Do you know what this means?"
"It means, my rat is perfectly healthy, and you need to DO YOUR job." He limps to his coffee maker as she stands there, guppy mouthed. He takes one look at her, then stormed out, his coffee-to-go cooling on the countertop.
Innocent, she grins as he comes stomping back three minutes later, only to find a coffee stain in the sink, and his cup in the dishwasher. "You hate me, don't you?"
"Ik doe mijn werk."
"Hiding behind your foreign language skills isn't going to help you here. Ik ken Afrikaans." He warned, knowing full well that she already knows that he knows. He stomps off again after she tunes him out for two minutes.
The ways of the world.
To clean a house (or apartment) is a battle. To just start cleaning without any thought or planis pointless. Things get dirty again, the sweeping has to be done three times. Out of control hatred for real cleaning just gets in the way of ever finishing. But keeping a tight schedule eases the cleaning into a mission of efficiency, and she prides herself on her control over dirt and grime
But these rat droppings are the absolute worst. And she knows that they're all over everything. Digging into the soles of her shoes, winding their way into the carpet and furniture fabric. "Today is for dusting and vacuuming and mopping, not for recovering Henta virus bombs" she says into the couch cushion as she gets down on her knees, feeling her leg muscles pull and release as she lowers herself down. The carpet beneath the couch always gets disgusting with food pellets and empty bottle in less than a week. A quick run through with the vacuum wand, and she fishes in a pair of underwear sucked onto the head. Grimacing, she pulls it off, and throws the dirty pair across the room.
The hose catches onto something small and heavy, and plugs up the hole with an angry "wrrring" sound. She quickly turns the vacuum off , and looks down into the deep, dusty hole. The hose looks empty, and she turns the power back on. It runs well again, and she continues to vacuum the floor.
Thirty minutes later, she tucks the cord back onto its hooks "just so," and walks towards her employer's bedroom. She looks back at the bookcase, and then realizes that something feels off about it. She trips closer to it, and peers at the medical volumes and pictures.
Her eyes track across each shelf, until she spies the ratcage. The lock on the door is pushed back all the way, and the door is perched against the wire meshing. Her eyes blaze open as she zooms around the room, pulling up pillows and couch cushions in a desperate attempt to locate the rat.
She rushes over to the vacuum, rips open the plastic backing, and tears into the paper bag. Her hands and arms get doused with dirt and grime, but she reaches in, feeling for anything furry and dead. Dust starts to billow out around the air, particles catch on the ventilation system and dance out softly across the room. She takes out great globs of filth, sifting each hair ball and dust bunny for the rat, until she finally feels something that isn't just more dirt. It's wrapped up in hair- surely not her boss's- but the hair has wrapped tight around it- choking it in a death grip. She pulls it apart, desperate, and finds…
Half a pair of torn boxers.
She looks down at the disgusting thing, unable to comprehend how grubby she is and what she's holding.
Falling back onto her rear, she curses the rat as the mess is only now starting to register. She is caked in the stuff, and knows that it will only come off in the shower. The carpet is spotted with grey dust, and it would take at least an hour to clean that up.
She stands up, and tromps through the living room back to the cleaning supply closet. As she comes back, she looks again at the cage, and realizes that the door is closed and locked again. The rat stares at her with its beady eyes between the bars of its cage.
Fifteen minutes later, her employer's neighbors knocks on the door, wondering what all the screaming is about.