We Don’t Need No Stinking Surprises
WELL, THE LAST AIRPLANE has landed. The last shuttle bus has shuttled and we have arrived safely home. We have traded south Texas for Terre Haute and we are exhausted. The last thing we wanted, or needed, was a surprise when we walked through the door.
Sometimes a surprise is when your friends jump out from behind the sofa on your birthday; or when you find a ten dollar bill in those slacks you haven’t worn in a year, or even when you eat lunch at one of those ubiquitous Chinese Buffet restaurants and don’t get stomach cramps.
I might have settled for even the Szechuan Two-Step rather than the surprise we actually did have. Let me explain.
Terre Haute is actually a very nice town of about sixty thousand. There are lots of trees and parks. Even the Indiana State University athletic teams are called the Sycamores. Along with all the greenery comes a variety of urban wildlife. Squirrels are everywhere, along with raccoons, rabbits, opossums, deer, the odd coyote and other critters. We even had a mountain lion pass through a couple of years ago. I bet you can see where this is heading.
Upon arriving home from our trip we pulled into the driveway, unloaded the luggage, and unlocked the door.
When a house is empty and locked up for a week or more things can get a little stuffy, but when I opened the door and stepped inside I said to myself, “That’s more than stuffy. That is waaaaaaay more than stuffy.”
When Dawn came into the house she said, “Whew – something stinks.”
That sentence won Third Place in the “Understatement of The Year” competition.
The search for the source of the stench began. I took the downstairs and Dawn checked the second floor. There were no obvious leaks or fallen plaster. I opened the basement door – nothing from there. And then I went into the small downstairs lavatory. I opened the door and the prescription on my glasses changed and my hair turned gray.
My wife heard my guttural, retching noises and came running.
“I think I’ve found what is stinking so bad,” I said.
“What is it?” she asked.
“I think it used to be a chipmunk.”
There, floating furry little face down in the toilet bowl, were the decomposing remains of a chipmunk. There was no way of determining how long ago it had passed away and gone to that Great Hollow Tree in the Sky.
Eventually we surmised that the Floater had come down the chimney into the fireplace then, feeling the need to wash up, went into the lavatory and either fell or dove into the toilet bowl and was unable to get out. I guess it could tread water for only so long, and then succumbed.
I gently lifted our drop-in houseguest out of the water using a ruler and placed it into a plastic bag from Kroger’s – then into the trash outside.
It took a couple of days and a lot of air freshener to erase the lingering memory of that chipmunk. But – what is once seen (or smelled) cannot be unseen (or, you get the idea).