Wednesday, October 31, 2007

The Terrible Ghost of Mr. Scampers, PhD.

Some close to me know the terrible secret of what happened in my basement last year and what gave rise to the terror that roams my house at night. In the spirirt of Halloween, the guilt I carry ala The Telltale Heart or from paying full admission to Highlander 2, I give you the strange happenings in my house that brought forth a hellish spectre that haunts me to this day… may God have mercy on my soul.

... One chilly Fall Saturday morning saw me in the basement, doing laundry before my afternoon class. I heard a strange noise behind me and inwardly moaned because I had already guessed what it was. Something was in the ductwork. This happened before with bugs in the summer, they fall down the chimney and breed in the flue dump at the bottom of the chimney. Sneaking close and listening at the exhaust duct that runs to the chimney I heard quiet grunting noises. Tapping the duct started a cacophony of screeching and banging. It wasn't a bird. Too big.

I then realized urine was dripping from the ductwork onto the floor. About that time the heater ticked on and more frenzied banging began as the thing tried to get away from the red-hot blower dumping scorching air and carbon monoxide out the flue. It occurred to me I heard noises the night before but I thought it was air coming down the chimney.

While considering making calls to our heater repair and exterminator I witnessed a squirrel's face peeking out from the cone shaped flue over the top of the hot water heater, the duct being an artery off the main exhaust duct going to the chimney. It was too small an opening to get out but it could breathe and not get baked alive down the ductwork the way it's excrement was.

So much for doing it myself. Visions of scorched animal clamped to face did the dialing for me.
But making the calls was pointless since it was now noon Saturday and hearing the agitated animal was heart-rending. It had probably been in there for at least a day and alternating between roasting and freezing the whole time.

Finally a call came back from the "humane" exterminator and he was on his way, five minutes out.

2 hours later, after the basement was completely destroyed by the squirrel escaping into the basement and not into the net and the subsequent clearing of objects it can hide in and spray with urine/feces, I cornered it with a net... and then the exterminator brutally beat it to death on my floor with my painter's pole. Not his. Mine. The exterminator was obviously in the midst of an amygdala hijacking and working out some demons as he "humanely" and expertly beat it about 30 times to put it out of it's misery. Who would put me out of mine? I called him because he was supposed to be humane. Now I have literally have sh!t to show for it. On everything.

I could've done all of that for free.

The squirrel was now in better shape than my ductwork. BTW, the furnace has now been off for hours at this point so the house was freezing with windows open in case it felt like just running out the open windows.

After 6 hours in the basement, after disassembling the ductwork to clean the excrement out of it and reassemble, adjust pitch and foil tape it all back together and make sure the house doesn't immolate from it all I went out and bought carbon monoxide alarms for the house.

75 dollars for the hit out on the squirrel.
75 dollars for the new screen for my chimney cap.
100 dollars for the alarms.
Remembering a tiny animal cowering in your corner crying from fear/wounds... priceless.

(To satiate and sooth the spectral squirrel (or spectuirrel) I named him Mr. Scampers and used the power as an administrator at a large university to bestow an honary doctorate upon him, to make up for the road not traveled and hopefully put him to rest.)

Happy Halloween and sleep tight... or try.


Anonymous said...

Dude, creepy timing. We just had a squirrel die in our office wall over the weekend. No one could pinpoint the stench origination point, so we had to put up with it until yesterday - when the handyman cut out a section of drywall - above the refrigerator. And pulled out a rather large, rather putrid, flattened squirrel corpse. So needless to say, the death’s head squirrel picture is going to be photocopied and hung inside the fridge. Thanks!

FFJewbacca said...

I too had a dead squirrel encounter. Me and another guy were renting office space together. We used to hear squirrels in between the drop ceiling and the actual ceiling between the first and second floor of the office. We complained to the landlord about 100 times before he "trapped" them and released them.

A week goes by, we hear no scampering around. Then slowly, hour by hour, a stench fills the office. We come in on a monday morning and there are literally hundreds of giant flies buzzing around the office. We complain to the landlord, he does nothing about it. We get an extermintator, he finds what he can only describe as the remains of the remains of a carcass of a squirrel in the ceiling. Gas, food and lodging for our fly friends.

I was out of there a week later.

FFSweaty Irishman said...

I don't have a squirrel story relative to this, but I do have a squirrel story. When I was little I told FFMatt's sister that if she made eye contact with squirrels, they attack you. She is still afraid of them today. One of my better mind games.