Death wins again

So I had this whole long post all thought out, about how we'd been to the state fair and it was so great, and we went to the pumpkin patch today and that too was so great, and I even had pictures:

And then Death came and moved in under my porch, and all the happy thoughts went whoop! right out my head.

Last night while I was standing at the kitchen sink, I noticed a very bad smell coming in the kitchen window. I forgot about it almost right away, though, because at the same moment I noticed 85 enormous barn owls swooping around and making their little hooty-hoo sounds in the woods across from the house. That was infinitely better than the bad smell, so we stood there, apparently not breathing because neither of us mentioned the stench for a few minutes, listening to owls and not smelling anything. Then like a ton of bricks, it hit us both.

"God," sez I, "what IS that? That is... that is..."

"I don't smell anything except dish soap."

"Put your head right by the window. I swear, that smell is death. There is death in our yard."

"That is not death. Death is much worrrrr----gagggg."

(Brief pause for Rob to finish making horrible hurking sound.)

"Okay, yeah, that's death."

So I grabbed a flashlight, because if I have learned anything from horror movies, it is to investigate the source of Death Smell at all costs, even in the middle of the creepy, sort of cold night when every owl in the dirty South is hooting outside the door. Because that is SO NOT SCARY.

"Where are you going?"

"Robert, that is death. Death is outside. I have to find it."

"You do not have to find it. Get in here and we'll find it in the daylight like normal people."

"Robert, normal people do not have death in their yards."

(It's funny how, when I'm trying to make a serious point, I call him Robert. It's just that the usual "babe" or "dammit, you" doesn't have the same oomph.)

I took the flashlight, I poked it all around, and I saw nothing, so we wrote it off to the breeze coming from the woods. Maybe something died over there, and that's what's making the owls nuts, and there you go, rationality in spades.

So Norah and I are getting home from the pumpkin farm today, and we are both exhausted and clutching our happy little fat pumpkins in our dirty little fists, and I realized that she fell asleep. I wandered around to her side, pried her out of her car seat, shut the door, and almost dropped her, because there it was: DEATH UNDER THE PORCH. Death, in this instance, took the form of a possum (or an opossum, if we're going to be formal, but who gives a damn? It was DEAD) that had apparently dropped dead while foraging under our porch. Keep in mind that our porch is about 3'x6', so going under it is about the same as going under a limbo bar - it's not really an optimal place for hide and seek.

I got Norah in bed and started making various phone calls trying to figure out what the do with the damned thing, because let's be honest: you don't have a clue what to do with a dead (o)possum either. The thing was huge, HUGE like a DOG huge, and the smell by now was unbelieveable.* What does one do with a dead animal that big and that smelly? And why did the dispatcher at 911 hang up on me?

*I watch a lot of crime shows, and let me just say that I have NO IDEA what would make someone want to become an M.E. and deal with Death Smell every day. That smell will haunt my dreams and forever make my food taste funny. It has burned itself into my nasal sensors.

I finally got someone at Animal Control, who was very nice and understanding about my dead-possum-disposal ignorance. "Look," said he, "All you have to do is call this number, and ask for the Office of the Disposal of the Dead." I wasn't sure if he was serious about that. The Office of the Disposal of the Dead? There is an actual OFFICE for this sort of thing? You don't just call some guy with a truck and a snow shovel?

The OFTDOTD will not, however, be receiving a Christmas card from me this year, because they were not only unwilling to dispose of my (o)possum problem, but they told me how I would have to deal with it. I would have to BAG THE CORPSE AND PUT IT BY THE CURB. Yes, BAG THE CORPSE. A CORPSE WAS UNDER MY PORCH. I am so absolutely indignant about this that everything I even THINK is in capital letters. I had to get a shovel (which I covered in a trash bag, because I couldn't handle the thought of (o)possum death on my garden tools, and it was either that or burn it on the driveway) and scoop the CORPSE into a trash bag, twist it up, and leave it by the curb for the stupid OFTDOTD truck, which still isn't here.

I talked to the possum while I bagged it, and I was not entirely pleasant. I'm fairly sure I addressed it as "motherfucker" at least once, and I'm not at all sure that I was sorry about that. Speak ill of the dead, indeed.

And now I'm going to take a nap.


  1. ARE you kidding me? PA-LEASE!