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Friday, July 24, 2015

Wrapping Up The Wildlife Wars: Nothing Is Impossible

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"Rick," I said one day not too terribly long ago, "there is something in the garage. I'm serious. Some animal. It smells foul in there, and there's dirt on the hood of my car. Like from the flowerpots up in the loft."

It's important to note that my husband took in this News the same way he usually does, which is by Not Looking At Me while I deliver it, and then by giving not one single sign that he even heard it. I waited for approximately two minutes, and then I said, "Rick. I mean it. Some animal is living in there, and--"

He interrupted me calmly, slowly and patiently turning around to face me with a completely unchanged expression of relative disinterest. "Nance. First of all, I don't smell anything in there. And second, there is no way any animal can get in there. No way. It's impossible. There's no point of entry for anything. A bird could maybe get trapped in there and get a little dirt on your car, but that's about it. I'm telling you, it's nothing."

Shortly after that, several convincing Pieces Of Evidence presented themselves that convinced even Rick that We Were Not Alone: a broken flowerpot on the hood of my car; bite marks on all of the bags of potting soil; pawprints and scratches on a car door. It was time to Do Something, and for once, that Something did NOT involve the BB gun.

"Looks like I have to clean out this garage," he said. "Take everything out and see where the hell it is and see how it's getting in here." In Rick's defense, the garage was already pretty tidy. In no time at all I heard him yelling, and I ran out from the kitchen to see what was happening.

Rick emerged from the back of the garage, triumphant, a shovel in one hand and a bloody raccoon tail in the other. "Got him!" he said, smiling. "That sucker took off so fast! But I got his tail, anyway. He won't be back."

I was still standing there, my hand on my mouth--which was gaping--and my eyes staring at that bloody tail. Finally, I managed to recover myself. "But how did it get in there? And what if it does come back? What if it had babies in there? And what do you plan to do with that tail, for heaven's sake?"

Very soon, I had answers to all of those questions. The clever raccoon had pried off a soffit panel at the back of the garage and sneaked in that way. There was no nest, no babies, for it had no need--it could come and go at will through this access. And the tail was tacked to a nearby stud to serve as a deterrent and a trophy. Rick also fastened the soffit panels with roofing nails to prevent any more invasions.

We went to bed with easy minds that night.

But about three A.M., I was awakened by a loud metallic clunk from the basement. Rick, of course, did not hear it. I sat up and waited for it to repeat itself. When it did not, I still woke him. It had been loud and sounded bad, maybe mechanical. He had to check it out. We both crept down to the basement landing.

As soon as we neared the steps, a terrible stench assailed us. It stunk like something rotten or rotting. "Do you smell that?" I asked him. He nodded. Tears came to my eyes, an involuntary response from fear. I grabbed his arm as he reached for the light. "Be careful!" I whispered, which was stupid. We hadn't bothered to be quiet until now, and once we turned the light on, any hope of secrecy or surprise was long gone. He flipped the light switch, and we both stared in shock.

Trickling under the door to the right was a small stream of deep red. It was travelling inexorably to the drain just ahead of us near the bottom of the steps.

"Holy shit," said Rick with heartfelt piety. "What in the hell is that?"

We pushed open the door to a massacre scene. Deep red splatters covered the spare refrigerator and dripped down its full length. The stench was overwhelming and disgusting. The floor was covered; we instinctively turned to check the bottles of wine in the racks. Those racks contained a lot of money in reds, and...what was this?

One bottle was missing its cork. Instinctively, I looked at the floor. Sure enough, there it was. Rick was sliding the bottle out of the rack, careful not to spill any more of it. He took it over to the sink and poured it out: the remaining contents were a thick, putrid sludge of sediment. It was a bad bottle, probably the last of the run. That sediment had fermented and popped the cork, which hit the ductwork, producing that clank I had heard.

Mystery solved, but now we had a lot of smelly, messy work to do in the wee hours of the morning. As we started to gather our supplies, I turned to Rick. "I thought it was blood! I thought it was that damned raccoon, that somehow it got into the basement and bled to death in this house!" I said.

"Did you really?" he said, and he turned toward me. A patient, kind look illuminated his face. "Nance. There is no possible way that raccoon could ever get into this house."

16 comments:

  1. Love the story. What a strange tale it is. [pun intended] You know they say there is no such thing as coincidence. ;-)

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    1. Ally Bean--Thank you. Perhaps that raccoon was Spanish, like the exploding wine, and it was all karma?

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  2. Oh my god, that's horrific. I can't even imagine.

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    1. J@jj--As with most things like this, we laugh a lot about it now.

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  3. Well, Nance, I could solve one of your problems in a minute but you will not listen to me. I have told you for years that the only way to buy wine is in a BOX...What do I have to do to convince you? The boxes of wine that I keep in my frig never explode..Eh! they may get a little musty but nothing blows up until AFTER you drink it.....

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    1. Nancy--LOL. HORRORS! STOP CHILLING THOSE REDS!

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  4. I read the whole thing, but my brain froze at 'bloody tail,' and I couldn't get the image out of my mind. My imagination would have been right there with yours - running bloody and rampant. Tough about the wine, but definitely beats the alternative.

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    1. MsCaroline--Thank you! I was positive there was a connection (connexion--that's for you!), and it never occurred to Rick. I don't know if that makes me paranoid or what.

      The wine wasn't a particularly expensive bottle: I remember it was a Spanish red, but that's really all I recall, so it must not have been too valuable. But if it was racked, it was aging/waiting, and not "on deck" to be drunk anytime soon.

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  5. Nothing good comes of," Nance, there's no way..."

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    1. Annie H--Nice to see you back here, in this disguise. ;-)

      And I agree with you. At this point, it's like Tempting The Fates anymore, that phrase. Our house is old; stuff can get in at places we can't even see. I'm sure there are little, quirky doohickey spots in the basement that I have no idea even exist. For decades, I didn't even know there was a little door that one used to clean out MORE ashes from the fireplace. What? Stuff like that.

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  6. Why can't our husbands just learn that we are always right?

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    1. Gina--Or correct at least a pretty high percentage of the time, anyway.

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    2. Not too long ago, my husband felt compelled to mark on the calendar one of the days I was wrong about something. It doesn't happen often! ;)

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  7. Ha! This story reminds me of the year my dad tried to make Muscadine wine. Our basement had been finished on one side only, and had a fairly thin paneled wall between the two sides. One early morning, my mother was ironing in the basement at around 2:00 a.m.(as she was wont to do), heard a loud bang, and thought she'd been shot. Yes, the bottle exploded & the cork came right through the wall. We all thought it was hilarious :)

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    1. Bug--I don't know what is more startling, the fact that a cork went through a paneled wall (even though it was thin), or the idea of your mother getting up at 2 AM to iron. LOL. That would put me off ironing forever.

      Actually, it wouldn't even take THAT; I'm pretty much off ironing already.

      Love this story!

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    2. Oh she didn't get up then - she was STILL up. Such a night owl... Which is why daddy was in charge of breakfast. 😀 <-- I'm on my phone & that's supposed to be a smiley face, but I'll bet it doesn't show up that way when I hit publish.

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