In honor of the holiday season, I will post this story as a warning to all who travel out of town for holidays.
I used to live in Fayetteville, NC in a very sketchy and run-down ground-floor apartment. I always joked that I might as well live in a tent in my yard because everything that lived outside, also lived inside with me: mice, roaches, spiders, various large wormy things...you name it. Little did I know how prophetic this statement would become. I was very, very broke at the time since I had just graduated college and was teaching high school. Only my hot Cuban neighbor made this living situation bearable. (Remind me to post about the hot Cuban neighbor.)
I was packing up my car (the very, very sad-looking 1989 Dodge Colt Vista, which is something you would expect to see filled with--please excuse the stereotype--14 Mexicans) to drive home to Virginia, so I propped open the kitchen door while I was loading.
OK, fast-forward 5 days later, when I'm returning to my apartment in Fayetteville. I grab a couple bags out of the back of my hatchback and I open the side door to go into my kitchen.
Then I had a heart attack. Omigod. What is that???
There is a dead squirrel on my kitchen floor.
My brain is flooded:
Did I just see what I think I saw?
How the f--- did it get in my house?
Why is it in my house?
How do I get it out?
Can you call animal control when the animal is already dead?
That is totally disgusting.
I hope it doesn't stink.
Well, I guess it is the best type of flooring for dead animals. It's easy to clean linoleum.
Am I going to have to get a rabies shot?
Don't they give those shots to you in the stomach???
Then I did what any young, panicked woman does. I called my mother. Keep in mind that reaching my phone involves going back into the kitchen. (I didn't have a cell phone at the time.) Stepping on the floor is totally out of the question, because all I can envision is the dead squirrel springing back to life, hoisting up my pants leg, only to attack me and repeatedly bite my shin--starting at the ankle and working its way up, all the while making a sickening chomp! chomp! chomp! sound as it slices through my flesh with its long, germy rodent teeth. So, instead, I leap from the doorstep up onto the kitchen chair, teetering on one foot as I reach across the table to grab my phone. I pivot on my tiptoes and leap back down and out of the house. Standing in my yard, I call my mom.
Me: Momohmygodithinkthere'sadeadsquirrelinmyhouse (pant pant) doihavetogetarabiesshotwhatifitcomesbacktolifeand (gasp!) attacksmewhenigoinside??!!??
Mom: (laughing her ass off at me)
Me: Mom, this is not funny. Seriously, what do I do?? [At this point, I'm seriously doubting the last four years of my life, as my very expensive history degree is totally useless in rodent attack situations.]
Mom: Duh! Get a broom and sweep it out.
Me: Oh. Right. Hey, do I have to get a rabies shot? Do I have to fumigate my house or something? What if there are rabies germs everywhere?
Mom: Just go get the broom, VB. And calm down. Sheesh! It's just a squirrel.
Me: Yes, but it is in my house. And it's dead.
Mom: Well, I don't know what else to tell you. Just sweep it out.
Me: Then there will be a dead squirrel in my yard.
Mom: Isn't that better?
Me: Um, yes. Ok, I'm going now. Pray for me. [click.]
Again, I teeter on my kitchen chair to jump through the kitchen to get to the closet where I keep my broom. Then I jump back onto the kitchen chair and prepare to sweep the dead rodent out. I can only imagine what I must have looked like. Anyone watching me through the kitchen window would have seen me performing rather acrobatic leaps on my furniture, all the while staring intently at a spot on my kitchen floor and wringing my hands. So as my broom reaches the squirrel, I can tell that this squirrel is a lot heavier than I expected. You'd think that they wouldn't be that hard to sweep out. Just a bunch of fur, right? But I have to use a little bit of force. That is because the squirrel is sopping wet. Ewwww. Oh God, why is it wet??? Where did the water come from? I will figure it out when I get it outside.
As the squirrel nears the doorstep, it BEGINS TO MOVE. IT IS NOT DEAD YET!!! It is in some kind of water-logged stupor, because it is not moving as quickly as I had feared. That is not to say that my heart rate isn't about 400 beats/minute at this point. I am completely freaked out. I scream bloody murder and swoosh the squirrel out with one last frantic push. It flops into the yard. Thank you, thank you thank you.
Now it's time to assess the damage. I need to know:
- How did it get in?
- How did it get wet?
- How long was it in here?
- What did it want?
- Where did it shit?
- What did it chew on?
- Is it alone or did it bring its buddies over for some beers?
Next, the living room. I looked at my couch. What if it was a pregnant squirrel and it made a nest out of my sofa stuffing and had little babies and they are embedded in my cushions?
Thankfully, this was not the case. Whew! Living room looked good.
Spare bedroom where I keep my clothes: clear. Whew! Gosh, maybe it didn't spend any time in my house at all.
Then, I went into the bathroom, where I found out how it had gotten wet. There was water all over the floor. That was because somehow, the squirrel had gone swimming in my toilet and managed to climb back out of it. That, to this day, amazes me. I know it was in there, because there was a bunch of dirt at the bottom of the toilet bowl. I wonder how long it struggled to get out of the bowl. How the heck did it do that? No wonder it had collapsed, stupefied, on my kitchen floor. It was probably thinking, Must....get...out....need...acorns...can't...get...to...door...
Ask me how grateful I am that it DID get back out and I was not dealing with Can I flush a dead squirrel?
Only one room left: my bedroom. Apparently, the squirrel selected my bedroom as the only room where he went TOTALLY APESHIT. There is a path of destruction which encircles my room. It starts at the door, where you can see it decided to SHIT IN MY BED. I love it. It could have shat anywhere in my apartment, but it chooses my friggin bed. (FYI: squirrel shit is relatively easy to clean--it is pellet-like. Sort of like rabbit poo.) After that, it decided to get tangled in my mini-blinds, because they are all askew and mangled. Then it apparently lept to my dresser (Why, I don't know. Maybe he wanted to get gussied up to prepare for my arrival home?) where it knocked over several breakables, only one of which was damaged. Ok, that is not so bad. Oh, but it knocked over the trashcan too. Oh, but it did all of this after the toilet saga, so everything is also wet. Grrreat.
After calming down, I finished unloading my car and cleaned everything up. Then I spent about 3 hours trying to figure out how it got into my apartment in the first place. I never did find any holes in the walls or ceilings which would explain his entrance. I was puzzled. Then, a few days later, I came to my conclusion: It must have entered my apartment when I loaded up my car because I had the kitchen door propped open.
So, kids, the moral of the story is, never ever ever leave your door propped open when you are loading your car!!!!!