About a week ago a smell appeared in my basement workshop. Our house is above ground about four feet. You could crawl around under there but it would be a nasty experience, so I didn’t do more than peer into the darkness below the house with the flashlight in my phone.

The smell got worse and worse. It was an awful odor. Sewage? Death? Chemicals? I couldn’t tell. I investigated but couldn’t find the source.

Noah mentioned it last night. And then today Karen couldn’t stand it any more.

She goaded me into looking harder by threatening to call the handyman – I hate spending money for jobs I can do. Plus it didn’t hurt that she went out and bought a good flashlight, turned it on, and put it in my hand:

“You’re the dude.”

It was raining hard today, Halloween. We peered under the house from the one reasonably comfortable viewing location in my workshop. There was nothing that could be the source, but there were some droppings.

I found another viewing angle from the driveway. This was cobwebby and creepy but I didn’t have to actually get into the crawl space. I didn’t see anything.

I looked under the front porch. From the least gross viewing angle I couldn’t see clearly. I went in. The smell was overwhelming. I could walk by squatting. It was dark and I had to clear cobwebs to move. There were piles of leaves, and one of them seemed like it might have been made into a nest.

Karen got a shovel and rake. I started digging. As I dug the smell got stronger. And then something like fur became visible.

Soon more fur, in clumps. Then a foot, the remnants of a face, a tail. A dog? Not quite. It had a huge bushy tail, thin face, skinny body – a fox.

It must have gotten sick, looked for a hiding place, and found a den under the porch. From there it explored further under the house, over to the point where the droppings were. Eventually it made a softish place to lie in a pile of leaves and died.

The body had reached a fully macabre state. Larvae wiggled between the toes and in the crevices of the face. What to do with it? I used the rake and shovel together, like awkward chop sticks, to drag it out to the street. There was a sewer that I could push it into, but it was right by the toddler park. The body was shedding hair, bones, and wiggly things in the heavy rain and there was a risk of disease.

You acclimate to disgustingness. Karen found a contractor bag and threw an old towel over the body. There was just a paw peeking out peacefully. I picked up the body with the shovel, Karen held the bag open like you would when you’re raking leaves, and we got the body into plastic. Now I know what a fox weighs.

I put the bagged fox in the car and drove it to a dumpster. Then I picked up hot chocolate for us and went back to work. But the smell was still in my clothes.

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