Alright people. I know I don't have a slew of readers, and many of the ones I do have already heard this story last night or this morning, since I have found the need to share it with everyone... but I'm here to type it all out anyways. At first, I thought there was NO way I was going to post about this, but then after thinking about it I realized that in five years, when I look back on my "Book-oh-9-oh-6", I will want to remember this and have it documented for days when I need a good laugh. You know, when I'm done feeling like I'm going to puke about it.
We'll start with last weekend, when I noticed a stench on the front porch (which is enclosed and currently houses my papasan chair and our shoes, among other random things). By Sunday night the smell was overwhelming on the porch, and I started to notice it in other random spots in the house, although that could have very well been my paranoia creeping up on me since I had myself absolutely convinced something had died.
Oh, before I go further let me mention that Dan is out of town for this entire thing, which usually means something ridiculous is going to happen and I'll have to figure it out without him, and also means you couldn't pay me to go down in the basement alone and check out possible causes of said reeking.
Monday night I ask my brother to come over and check out the basement, because although having all the snazzy new windows open airs everything out, I eventually have to close the windows back up in the morning when I leave. I figured a mouse had died in the vents or something, so in all honesty I'm not exactly sure what I expected Kevin to do anyways, seeing as the two of us are not exactly skilled air duct workers or anything. Lucky for him, he didn't come over, and by Tuesday night when the rest of my family was returning from Wisconsin I had myself completely worked up about the fact that I was sleeping in a house with a dead SOMETHING laying around somewhere... so I asked my dad to check it out with me instead. I'm starting to think he isn't going to answer the phone when I call anymore, and I can't say I would blame him at this point.
So, Dad and I head down to the basement - after Manda and I tore through the house looking for at least one of the six flashlights Dan "strategically placed" (read: hid) - and it is immediately clear that yes, something has died, and yes, it is in the basement. Swell. I look around the mess of Christmas decorations and bins of winter clothes and announce that I don't even know where to start, and my dad tells me "Follow your nose"... and turns to the crawl space door (which is directly below the front porch), opens it, and nearly falls over from the horrific muggy rotting something or another smell. I kind of wish I was a copywriter so I could describe it better, but all you really need to know is that it was absolutely disgusting. Shining a flashlight around in there, we couldn't see much of anything (well, except for other unnamed nastiness), so my dad hoisted himself in for a closer look and within seconds found the culprit in the far corner...
...a very large, very smelly, very dead... cat.
Not only did I think I was going to puke, but I wouldn't have been surprised if my dad lost his dinner since he was standing there with the thing just a few feet from his face. But, my Dad is like a modern day superhero of some sort and held it together with just a few swear words and gross descriptions of the cat's face, which was eaten out by bugs and rotting. Oh, dear God. So dad jumps out and Manda and I tear through the house some more hunting down a large box (I'm not kidding, this cat was easily a 25 pounder), heavy duty black garbage bags to line the box with, a fan and extension cord, a face mask, a shovel, and vinegar to attempt to neutralize the odor in the space. My mom promptly lit every candle in the house and opened all of the windows, and then went out to the car for her camera because I insisted on getting a picture to show Dan the spectacle he managed to miss. (I am not posting the picture here, however, because that's just gross). A quick change into old clothes and a few deep breathes (I can do this without fainting, I can do this without fainting...) and I jumped in the space to hold the flashlight while my dad scooped the poor thing up with the shovel and into it's little coffin box. A quick trip to the dumpster out back and the cat is on it's way to kitty heaven... or the landfill, whatever floats your boat. Eww, eww, EWW. I mean really, I did NOT sign up for this when I bought a house.
A little inspecting on the outside of the house made it clear that the cat sqeeeeeezed itself in through a hole about the size of my fist right under the base of the house. Considering there was a pile of fur outside the hole, I think it's safe to say that was how it got in. Some googling later on solidified my dad's assumption that the cat knew it was about to go and just happened to find my house to curl up and head on to it's next life - - apparently it is fairly common for cats to run away and/or hide when they know they are going to die. Who knew.
In the end, I'm thankful we found the cat before my basement hiding space turned into a pet cemetery. Have no fear though friends, CrawlSpaces.com just happens to be based in Chicago and promptly got a phone call from me with only mild urgency, and they will be at the house Friday afternoon to give me an estimate on cleaning the space, securing it so this does not happen again, and possibly adding concrete so it can eventually be used for safe storage.
A BIIIIIIIIG thanks to my dad for doing the dirty work on this one. And a big "sorry" to whoever in my neighborhood happens to be missing a fat orange tabby cat. Hey, we checked for tags, what else were we supposed to do?*
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*According to a coworker of mine, I should make a "FOUND: Orange Cat" poster with the picture and put it up around the neighborhood. I'm sure the toddlers in the daycare at the end of the block would just LOVE that.
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EDIT: August 27, 2009
After several requests to add the picture, I've decided to post it for everyone just itching to see the tabby Manda and I have affectionately named Dead Garfield. That means don't scroll down any further if you have a weak stomach!!
Mr. Lawler, this one's for you... if you want to, you can click on it to look at it nice and big in all it's maggot-covered glory. YUM.