Bill's Vignettes

This is my story. It will consist of little pictures, snippets, or vignettes, from my past. It is a legacy to my children and grandchildren and those that may come after and hopefully will also be of some interest to the casual reader who doesn't know me from Adam.

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What Is That Smell?

Posted by sundoulos2005 on September 6, 2007

It was one of those hot summer days and Mary, my wife, had gone shopping for groceries to last the next two weeks. Going from one store to another, she loaded the back of our minivan with canned goods, produce, soft drinks, and meat, along with sundry other items. When she got home she asked me to unload the stuff and bring it in the house.

I responded dutifully and did as she requested. Inside the house, Mary unpacked the bags and put her haul away. But something was not quite right. She asked me if I had brought everything in. “Of course,” I replied indignantly. “Well, I thought I bought four chickens and I can only find three. Go out and check the van and see if there’s not another.” So I trudged out to the van, took a look around, saw nothing, and headed back into the house. “Nope, it’s not there,” I announced smugly.

The days went by one by one and I drove the van to work, letting it bake during the day in the blaze of the desert sun. As the days progressed I began to notice an unusual odor. At first it was just odd. Then, as each day arrived, it became even odder. After several days it smelled like a loaded diaper. A few more days and it started to smell like a high school boy’s locker room. Finally, it smelled … well, it just smelled!

When I got home from work, I told Mary I’d have to give the van a thorough going over because something must have died in there. After dinner I went out to investigate the source of my olfactory misery. It wasn’t long before I found it. You guessed it – the chicken of last week’s grocery shopping trip. It had rolled out of its bag and wedged itself under one of the seats, completely hidden from casual view.

What do you do with a dead chicken? Especially one that’s – how do you say it? – ripe? I had the answer. Wrap it in a few of those disposable plastic grocery sacks and put it in the outside garbage. Great idea, Bill! And so I did. “That should do it until the garbage truck comes in another three or four days,” I thought. Right!

Now my ripe, dead chicken was to go through a second baking. Inside the confines of the garbage can the Nevada sun did its work. Oh how I dreaded taking the garbage out. Lifting the lid of that container released the most obnoxious (and probably noxious) odors. I’d take a deep breath as I approached, not breathe for as long as I could hold my breath, run for the can, lift the lid, throw the trash in, and scram! After gaining a safe distance, or so I thought, I’d gasp for fresh air – only to take in what I had let out of the can. Something would have to be done. Tomorrow.

The next day Mary greeted me at the door when I got home. “Bill, that smell is stinking up the whole neighborhood,” she said, a sense of urgency and pleading in her voice. “The neighbor across the back fence was in his yard today and I heard him say, ‘What IS that smell?’”

She didn’t have to tell me. That smell was hanging over our end of the cul-de-sac like a pall of invisible smoke. It was awful. I had never smelled anything quite like it. Something would have to be done – before dinner.

Bravely I approached the garbage can. I couldn’t take a breath and hold it because the air was putrid. So I just tried to hold my breath. I gingerly lifted the lid and the odors, having gained a bit of strength, just reached out and whacked me. “Run, Bill, run,” I thought. But where could I go? There was just no place to find shelter.

I went back into the house and got a half-dozen or so more plastic grocery bags. Putting one inside the other I returned to the “oven” and tackled the offending object, stuffing it into the sacks and pulling the handles tight at the same time. Now all I had to do was get rid of it.

What do you do with … it? I couldn’t take it in the house. Maybe put it in someone else’s garbage? Throw it out in an open field? Well, the first thing is to get it out of the neighborhood. So Bill and his chicken headed for the car.

As I drove away the thought came to me: 7-11 has a Dumpster! Yes, that’s what I’ll do. I’ll put it in their Dumpster. So I drove to the nearest 7-11. I pulled alongside the garbage bin and made sure no one was around – not that they would have stayed long – and like David getting ready to slay Goliath, spun that chicken with all my might and let it go. It hit its mark, dropping with a semi-liquid thud, or “thup.” As I drove away, I could only laugh as I thought of the night clerk taking out the trash and asking, “What IS that smell?”

© 2002, 2007 Willard Paul – All Rights Reserved

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