By Charles Towne
It was a Monday morning and I decided to call my wife to find out how things were going on the home front. I am greeted with an outpour from my dear one that something horrible has happened, and great suffering is in progress.
Sympathetically, I listen as my sweetie tells me that she thinks something… some thing… has crawled into the house and died. “It smells terrible!” she continues. “I have checked every room in the house but I can’t find anything.”
“Did you check the boy’s room?” I asked. “You never know what they might drag home.”
“Yes, I checked the boy’s room and couldn’t find anything out of the ordinary, except a couple of dried toads under one of the beds.”
I chuckle as I remember my own boyhood. “Well, there you are. It was probably the toads that smell bad.”
“No dear, it wasn’t the toads. They’re all dried out – like cute little toad mummies – no odor at all.”
I go home early for it is obvious by my wife’s voice that this needs to be cleaned up, and I mean, quite literally, cleaned up, “NOW!”, as in yesterday.
Honestly, I was thinking that it probably wasn’t much of anything at all. I mean, really guys, we know how sensitive wives can be, don’t we? I was sure she was exaggerating.
She wasn’t exaggerating.
The last time I smelled anything like that was when I forgot my many pairs of rotten socks at the bottom of my sleeping bag. After a two week camping trip. In the heat. And rain.
That time, I had to burn the sleeping bag, which was a mistake. Have you ever burned a down-filled sleeping bag? In case you’re curious, the odor – on a scale of one to ten – is astronomical.
I walked in through the kitchen and immediately decided we were going to eat out. No way was the odor that assaulted my senses conducive to a nice comfortable dinner at home.
Wifey asked for the car keys, and as she and the kids headed for the driveway and began climbing into the car, I quickly exclaimed, “Wait for me Sweetie! It will only take a few minutes to get cleaned up and we can go together!”
Her reply, in a voice that was so frigid it almost gave me frostbite, “The children and I are going for dinner, ‘SWEETIE’, and you are going to stay home and search for the dead, whatever-it-is!”
Discerning fellow that I am, I could tell by the way she sort of hissed when she called me ‘Sweetie’ that I was in the deep, proverbial doo doo.
As I watched my family drive down the street I was somewhat miffed. I mean, how could she blame me for the something stinking up the house?!
Needing to get my strength up, I went to the kitchen and made a peanut butter and jelly sandwich and poured myself a glass of milk.
As I ate the sandwich, I began opening up all of the windows; it certainly wouldn’t hurt to air the place out.
I prowled through the house next, searching for the abomination that had suddenly intruded upon my turf. I couldn’t find anything.
Ah well, desperate situations beget desperate solutions and, understanding that the rat, or whatever it was that had very obviously died inside one of the walls, the only thing that I could do was start the delicate process of… demolition.
Hammer in hand, I methodically started knocking holes in the drywall.
(For some mysterious reason, when my wife got home that night, she took on a vow of silence.)
The next day the smell was, if anything, worse than the day before. It taunted me. It challenged me. And I did the only sane thing a person could do: I continued punching holes in the walls.
I spent the next two days alone, due to the fact that by this point, the family was living at the in-laws.
It was on the fourth day that I found the dead rat. Yes… as much as I hate to admit it… the wife was right, it was a rat; the biggest, nastiest rat I have ever seen.
I buried the rat in the back yard and called the drywall repair man. Being a discerning fellow that he was, he took one look at the destruction and said, “Dead rat, huh?” and I just nodded assent.
And now… now that the statute of limitations have run their course… I am going to tell “THE REST OF THE STORY”.
On the fourth day of my search I was prepping the utility room, next on my demolition list, when upon moving a bunch of goodies into the garage to clear the way, I discovered my fishing tackle box. Hmm! So that’s where I put it.
I had gone fishing with a buddy of mine the previous Sunday and, when I got home, I set the tackle box next to the hot water heater… and promptly forgot it was there.
At this moment a little light bulb began to glimmer, ever so dimly, as I remembered the two, pint-sized containers of night crawlers that I had put in the tackle box.
Have you ever smelled rotten worms?
They smell an awful lot like a dead rat. A very big, dead rat.
After finding the ‘dead rat’ and burying it in the back yard next to that big azalea bush, I went out and bought myself a new tackle box, along with a new collection of lures. I figured I had endured a lot, getting to the bottom of this, and now, I was out a tackle box. Or maybe, I just needed to cover my tracks.
One day I might go back and dig that ‘rat’ up. The lures probably don’t smell all that bad anymore, being buried next to the azalea bush all this time.
An Outdoorsman’s Prayer
Dear Lord, please forgive me for deceiving my wife into believing the container of rotten worms was a dead rat. I don’t know if that is a sin of omission or a sin of commission, but whatever it is, please forgive me. I love you Lord, and thank you for helping me through a lot of very stinky, rotten situations in my misbegotten life. In Jesus name I ask it, Amen.
Charles Towne is first and foremost a Christian. An octogenarian, author, journalist, wildlife photographer, naturalist, caregiver, and survivor, his life has been and continues to be, a never-ending adventure filled with possibilities never imagined. He has adopted the philosophy that to Live fully, laugh uproariously, love passionately, and learn like there is no tomorrow, is a formula for a long and joy-filled life.