Sometimes When I Clean… I See Dead Things

Imagine your biggest phobia up close, right in your face. It happened to me and I still have heebies all up in my jeebies. Also my throat is raw from screaming like the victim in a B-rated horror flick.
I spent the better half of yesterday in our basement sorting and purging all minimalist-like. My goal was to condense the piles of Rubbermaid storage bins into a less “hoardery” number. I started with my old teacher books and supplies (because after ten years in “retirement” it was time to let go) and then moved on to the bins of Halloween and Christmas decor.

Before I could get very far, I called my husband downstairs to fix the light hanging in the storage area. I’d yanked the string on it too hard and pulled it right out of the socket and 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?” How tremendously helpful.

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 realistic looking 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 the movie Silkwood where poor 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 continue 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. He offered to bleach it out 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.

FYI…searching for images to use in this post nearly made me vomit…so I stopped. 

Addendum: We added a cat to our family a few years after I wrote this story. Did you know that cats show 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. (As a man, he’s hard of smelling.) I knew 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.

Related: The time we had a disgusting mouse living in our attic


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