I have a thing about dead animals. They make me cry.
When I’m driving down the road and I see a deer carcass or a dead bird smashed to the asphalt, its wing flapping in the wind, I gasp and tears well up. I hate to see animals hurt or killed.
It’s not like I’m a huge animal lover. I am not a cat lady and as I’ve been working on the edits for the third Drops of Awesome book this week, my editor needed to point out that I hadn’t included any questions about pets in a book that asks questions to help the user write her autobiography. It just didn’t occur to me.
But I can’t stand the thought of a dead animal.
Even though I passionately hate the mice who sneak into our garage, it is gut-wrenching to me to dispose of their bodies from the traps. I fall apart.
So, today when I saw a large squirrel dead but still perfectly formed lying in the middle of the road next to Wanda’s bus stop, I lost it a little. It. Was lost. My friend Stephanie and I had just returned from a bike ride and we had no kids with us. I knew that as soon as they got home on the bus, they’d see the poor squirrel and I wanted to spare them that trauma. Even worse, what if a truck drove by and smashed it to pieces and we had to walk by it’s caked-on guts every day for the next six months? I couldn’t bear it.
I told Stephanie I’d dispose of it if she’d provide the shovel and moral support.
Then, just as I was approaching the beast, she suggested that maybe he was just stunned and as soon as I touched him he might jump up and run toward me.
This was not helpful.
We decided on a two-part approach. First I would poke said beastie with the tip of the shovel. If he made no movement, I would proceed to phase 2, wherein I would push him with the shovel across the road and into the drainage ditch for the coyotes to mange.
She started recording.
There was something about the soft feeling of the shovel touching the squirrel’s belly that sent a shiver through my whole body. It wasn’t pretty. I asked her to stop recording.
But she started again.
And caught my finest hour in pixels.
Because that’s how heroes DO!
I thought it was over.
The kids hopped off the bus and I headed home and retired to the solace of my favorite chair in the corner by my favorite window, working on work and watching Wanda and her friend as they played outside.
When what should fly past my ear but a giant bug. No. Not a bug. A bird. A freaking bird was inside my living room.
It landed on the window sill a few inches from me, flapping it’s wings frantically and slamming into the window over and over again.
I screamed and dropped my water bottle on the floor, wetness spilling everywhere. The bird also started spreading “wetness” all over my window sill. Bird poop. In my living room.
I called Dan for moral support but he was in a meeting. I took some semi-hysterical video tracking the bird.
“Girls,” I yelled outside, “You left the door open and now there’s a bird in the house.”
I heard my neighbor laugh from her house next door.
“Do you need my help?” she asked.
“Seriously? Okay. I’ll be over in a few minutes.”
While I was waiting for her, I closed all the blinds in the house except the ones on the window where the bird was thrashing and opened the front door to entice him out. I grabbed a broom and started shooing the bird toward the screened-in part of the window, thinking if he was near the screen, I could push it out and let him free.
I can’t adequately describe the feeling of adrenaline that was coursing through my body as I worked to get this crazy bird out of my house, a bird who moved sporadically, frequently startling me, and who I knew could fly up in my face at any moment, freaking me out and very likely pecking the flesh from my eyes in a Hitchcockian display of terror.
It’s like that feeling you get when you’re poking a dead squirrel in the middle of the road with your shovel, knowing he could jump up, run along the handle of your shovel and start climbing up and down your face while you scream and flail around like a psychobot.
After I moved the bird where I wanted him, I put down the broom so I could have two hands free to remove the screen. As I did this, he dropped out of sight behind my long, dark curtains. I quickly closed those curtains as well, those curtains which hang in an area behind the end table, an area that has become the dumping ground for my church bag, the kids’ piano books, and a bunch of other stuff. Arg.
With the blinds all shut, the living room had grown dim.
The bird was in the mess. In the dark. And he’d gone silent.
No more flapping.
No more pecking.
Did he die of fright and fall into my church bag to fester? My neighbor had arrived by this point and she helped me pull items one by one out of my bag, looking for a dead bird.
In the dim light we moved the chair. The end table. The piano.
We never found the bird.
I see the writing on the wall. At some point in the next couple of weeks, I will move a cushion or a piano book and BAM! Dead rotting creepy bird carcass!! It’s an exciting game we’re playing here.
My neighbor asked if there was ever really a bird or if I was possibly losing my mind. After SquirrelGate 2016 earlier this morning, I almost doubted myself.
“But no,” I told her, “I have video proof of the bird.”
Then I showed her this.
A minute of me hysterically trying to creep up on a bird that never quite makes it into the video.
Good proof, right?
She looks at me.
“It must be on the other video.”
And here it is.
So the bird is real. And the squirrel is real. And the terror is real. I wanted to find the bird so badly at first, but I’m at a point where I don’t so much want to find it now. Ever.
They say these things happen in threes. I don’t think that’s possible. Because if I have another run-in with a helpless and/or deceased animal today, I will perish as well. And then there will be four dead animals.