The charred corpse of a rat.
That’s what served as the conversation piece Wednesday morning in the 300 block of North Eutaw Street — about a half-mile north from Oriole Park at Camden Yards and a world away.
The rat corpse, or what appeared to be a rat corpse, sat scorched on the sidewalk. The “cooked rat” is what the four men drinking 24-ounce cans of beer from black plastic bags in front of Son-Son Tavern and Liquor called it.
Honestly, the torched rat didn’t stick out much. The sidewalk was littered with charred debris, most of it spilling out from the building at 320 N. Eutaw St.
That building burned in a four-alarm fire in January. It’s still standing charred in place. Despite the chain-link fence put in front, boards covering the front have been pried open, providing easy access to squatters, homeless or whoever else wants to get in the structure.
The area is scattered with burned objects from the shell. Someone has been going into the building, pulling trash out and leaving it in front.
“That needs to be demolished,” the most vocal of the beer buddies shouted, the others agreed and laughed.
The demolition advocate declined to give his name. Just finished work, he said, and wanted to have a beer, his slurred words indicating it may not have been his first 8-a.m.-after-work beer.
Another of the beer buddies suggested they call their conversation starter “the barbecue rat.” The man with no name said it was the rat recorded in Lexington Market scurrying around a case of baked goods.
More laughter ensued.
Down the street and around the corner, Joanne Shephard, of G. Krug & Son Inc. metal craftsmen and museum, was dealing with her own issues from a lack of city services on West Saratoga Street.
A tree in a neighbor’s yard is growing at an angle. It’s poked through a brick wall lining the alley and is leaning against another brick wall separating the neighbors’ house from parking next to G. Krug & Son’s.
Shephard is worried. The brick wall is cracking in places. The tree may knock a brick down, smash into a car below or kill someone.
She’s called and called city agencies. They just keep shuffling her around. No one in Baltimore’s government seems to know how to address a problem tree.
“I even called my congressman,” Shephard said.
That didn’t work, either.