Before I could get very far, I called my husband downstairs and asked if he could possibly fix the light hanging in the storage area. I had yanked the string on it a bit too hard and pulled it right out of the socket. I was left in the dark. My spouse stared blankly at the light and said, “I don’t know how to fix that. Use a flashlight, maybe?” He’s tremendously helpful, especially when he’s in the middle of watching a football game.
I was making great progress and wasn’t about to let a little vision issue slow me down. I dove into the first bin of Halloween decorations and pulled out plastic pumpkins, witches hats, skeletons, rubber rats, and a creepy little mouse.
“I don’t remember this decoration,” I thought as I examined it up close so I could make out the details. Like, right up close. Centimeters from my face.
Oh holy Halloween hell, this was no decoration.
This was a very real, very dead rodent. When I came to this grizzly realization I screamed and tossed the mummified mouse to the floor where it landed with the clackity-clack sound of something plastic.
The rest is a blur. I ran upstairs, shrieking, and began washing my hands. I scrubbed and scrubbed with scalding hot water. It was like that scene in Silkwood where Meryl Streep was scrubbed raw in a nuclear plant’s decontamination shower.
The kids had friends over and they all stopped to stare at me. “What’s wrong with your mum?” my son’s friend asked as I continued to shudder and shriek and scrub my hands frantically.
My husband, possibly feeling guilty (though it was hard to tell due to his hysterical laughter) disposed of the mouse.
My son later informed me that, “One of its eyes was missing.” Fantastic. I’ll just add that to the growing list of things that keep me awake at night.
I made my husband dispose of the entire storage bin/coffin where the mouse breathed his last breath. He offered to bleach it in order to save it. “It’s a perfectly good bin.” he protested.
“Yes, but not only is it infected with mouse germs, it’s also haunted because something freaking DIED in there!!!” This is how my mind words. Scary, isn’t it? But not as scary as fondling a dead rodent.
Addendum: We added a cat to our family a few years after I wrote this story. Did you know that cats demonstrate their love by bringing you presents? They REALLY love you if they bring you dead and/or dying things. I had no idea until I smelled something indescribably awful in our basement. My husband couldn’t smell it. Men are apparently hard of smelling.
I was certain there was something horrible lurking in the shadows of the furnace room, but I dare not investigate. After a few days of nagging my husband to check it out, he finally found the source. He tried to hide the evidence from me, but the plastic gloves, the garbage bag, the bottle of bleach, and the pained look on his face told the tale of the tail (attached to a dead mouse) he had found—a gift from our cat… who I suspect might be a serial killer.