Wednesday, September 09, 2009

Chivalry is Not Dead...

...even when other things are.

Sometimes you just have to do the right thing. Like the time I went to my sister’s house to borrow the floating family edger. She was on vacation up in the Hill Country for a week or so, and it would still be several days before she arrived home again. My yard couldn’t wait.

I backed the ol’ Caravan into the driveway and lifted the back door for a quick-load-quick-getaway. As I approached the garage door, I heard some loud buzzing and saw a couple of big green-tailed flies that seemed anxious to get into the garage.

“Hmm, them’s some big flies.”

As I opened the door, I noticed a large number of other flies coming out to meet me. That’s odd. I ventured in past the cloud of insects toward the interior of the garage and on the first breath I drew, the unmistakable scent of decomposition met me like a sack of humid rotted cat, right in my sizeable nose. My eyes grew accustomed to the dimly lit tomb and sure enough, there was a very large decomposing orange tabby cat sitting there, well, decomposing. Now, when I see the CSI guys stroll into a crime scene with a five-day-old corpse decaying in the kitchen I know that it’s just a set with ersatz yuk on the floor. I don’t think anyone could keep a straight face in an atmosphere filled with putrefying flesh. Actors.

What I saw was a truly amazing composition that put me in mind of the famous painting; “the Death of Marat”, by Jacques Louis-David. That painting is of a man dying in his bathtub, fatally stabbed while writing, his quill pen still in his right hand, which had fallen limply to the floor, his head leaning on his right shoulder. The cat was a mirror image of this pose, save for the pen. He sat in repose, in a plastic baby tub with his legs out in front of him and his left paw outside the tub, and he was leaning heavily to his left. While I was amused by this similarity, the stench soon drove me outside amidst gags and chokes.

I briefly considered grabbing the edger and flying back home with nary a word to anyone. That option was short-lived; I couldn’t dream of having my sister come home from vacation to a ripe, dead feline ruining her babies’ bathtub. My path was clear; I had to dispose of this cat-tastrophy.

I wore a bandana around my head as a sweatband, and quickly decided to repurpose it to become a mask to protect me from the “eau de rotting kitty”. I took a couple of deep breaths and returned to the crime scene to assess what I could do. There was a large paper garbage bag provided by the city close at hand, and it looked as though I could slide the entire tub, cat and all into it and thus be rid of the entire thing at once. No way was I going to clean the tub out. There’s not enough bleach in Texas to disinfect that plastic tub.

About this time, I ran out of oxygen and had to bolt for the outside air once again. As I got clear of the stink zone, I again took a breath, this time through the bandana. Big mistake. The cloth held the molecules of stench in suspension until I could actually use them. Gag. Gag again, this time with the lunch I had consumed hours before nearly making an appearance.

I repeated that sequence about four more times as I readied the reeking tabby for his final journey to the landfill; breathe, run in, finagle tub/cat/bag until I run out of air, run outside. I finally secured him and his vehicle in the gigantic paper bag, rolled the top shut tightly and galloped to the curbside. Now it was someone else’s problem, most notably, the sanitation workers. Better them than me, since their olfactory fatigue has been keeping them alive since their second week on the job.

We never figured out how the unfortunate animal met his demise or how he ended up so conveniently in the tub, but I was thankful for whatever coincidences lined up to make my incredibly selfless act a little bit less, ah, pukish. I proudly say that I did not at any time of this ordeal actually hurl; but I gagged more than I ever had. Ever.

Still, when I think of it, I kinda want to spit.


innominatus said...

I've always heard that the only certainties in life were death & taxes. Maybe they meant "death in Texas."

Chunky Cat Stew in a Bowl
Marching Red Death Ants
Petrified Gecko in a Box
Anhydrous Skeletal Horses Sucked Dry by Marauding Skeeters

That's a lot of tragedy in just a few posts! It takes a strong man to face all that and retain your cheery outlook! :)

Rhonna said...

You are still the best brother in the whole world! I had to spit when I read it...PATOOEY.

invigilator_tex said...

Is this the same sister who sent you the dried lizard?

If so, brother you missed a big chance.

I'm guessing maybe that cat got in the garage before they left and cooked in the heat? Poor kitty.

aA said...

Innominatus: Yes, i do retain that cheery outlook, partially attributable to being a giant 11 year-old. And having a short attention sp--

SiS, I know.

I Tex; Yes and I think the cat was a specific KIND of cat, since he had a bag of silverware and a stereo on a bag next to him. He got what he deserved.