Thump. My toes!
It was a summer Thursday in a busy work-week and I was irritable. I rummaged; there didn’t seem to be anything grill-worthy in the freezer. I was cranky – why was the basement always so darned cluttered? In annoyance I kicked at the plastic grocery bag with the beach ball inside. I kicked it hard. Thump. Ouch, my toes! I looked in the bag. “That’s not a beach ball, it’s a butterball!” I exclaimed. The realization hit me almost as hard as the sudden sick aroma.
For weeks I had been on the hunt for the source of a putrid odour. I was no stranger to the smell of putrefaction. A rat had once died in the wall of a house I lived in in Newfoundland and just last year a mouse had gone into a sugar induced coma and died in a pop bottle in the recycling bin. So I knew there was something dead somewhere when a rotten odour began haunting the house. I had searched diligently; the garbage can, under the furniture, in the winter boots, but could find no evidence of a corpse. The smell had become so strong it seemed to have weight as it billowed around the floor in the south end of the house, bubbling up to assault my nostrils when it was stirred by my feet. It was quite oppressive by the time I finally decided that something must have died in the heating ducts and we would just have to wait it out.
Now the mystery was solved. In the plastic grocery bag was, not a beach ball, but a turkey. It was so bloated with rot that it had stretched taut the thick plastic wrap and the little metal fastener was struggling to keep it sealed. I had purchased the frozen bird six weeks ago but obviously it had never found its way to the freezer. It must have been forgotten as I rearranged things to make it fit. Now it was just a tight plastic sack of liquefied poultry. I gagged.
What was I do do with this? I was terrified to touch the thing lest it burst and splatter the basement walls. It would take Mr. Clean, Mrs. Clean and all the little baby Cleans to deal with that mess. By then I was getting light-headed from trying not to breath. I donned rubber gloves and pulled my t-shirt up over my nose. As carefully as if I was carrying an ACME vial of nitroglycerin, I loaded the turkey-bomb into a five gallon pail. I carted it out of the house and deposited it, bucket and all, in the wheelbarrow at the top of the driveway. “Supper will be very late” I reported and knew that the only certainty that evening was that we wouldn’t be eating turkey.
Jake joined me outside, heard my tale of woe, and we sat on the step with our chins in our hands and stared at the bucket in the wheelbarrow. We discussed what we could possibly do to dispose of it. We couldn’t throw it overboard; it would float like a decomposing seal carcass. We couldn’t possibly store it until garbage day, it would attract scavengers. Indeed, there was already a gull at the top of the power pole courting the turkey-ball and a few of his more shy friends bobbed around in the shallows hoping to get in on any potential action. The stench was so strong it wouldn’t have surprised me if there were turkey buzzards from as far as Virginia’s Skyline Drive packing their little overnight cases in anticipation of a trip north for a Nova Scotian turkey buffet.
It was like trying to decide what to do with an accidentally discovered unstable second world war incendiary device. Unfortunately there was no number in the yellow pages for a turkey disposal unit – I would have to defuse this bomb myself. Jake and I tossed around ideas; we could put it in someone else’s garbage. We could bury it but I was tired and it would mean transporting it over rough ground. Too dangerous; it had already warmed up now that it was out of the cool basement and the rotting had no doubt accelerated. I worried about how much more pressure the plastic wrapping could withstand. The only sensible option was to dump it somewhere.
We carefully covered the bucket with a tarp and some heavy towels in case it blew and wedged it into the car between the front and back seats. We opened all the car windows, started the engine, and drove south. The biggest concern was being caught in the act of illegal dumping and there was heavy supper-time traffic. We drove ten minutes and I spied the stone posts of a gated road. The road led to some expensive properties out along the shore at the end of Shag Bay and I knew it wasn’t very busy so I hit the brakes (Mom! – Be careful!!) and turned left. I drove along the gravel road as cautiously as if I was carrying a grenade with a loose pin. We spotted a long treed driveway with no house at the end and I pulled off the road. There were no other houses within eye shot and no traffic so I stopped and hopped out, leaving the door open and the car running for my quick getaway. There was large dry hole with mounds of dirt around it where someone had excavated for a foundation a few years ago. This would do nicely.
I extracted the offensive bucket from the back seat and gingerly climbed with it to the parapet. I tipped it at the brink and the turkey ball rolled erratically down the slope. Amazingly, the plastic held – this turkey could have survived re-entry from a space mission. I was well on the road home before the bomb came to a stop in the small puddle toward which it was heading. Mission accomplished, though we still carried the ghost of the funk of dead turkey and we kept the windows rolled down all the way home.
I was greatly relieved but Jake was disappointed that we didn’t stay to watch the action when the first curious crow strutted up to the fragrant orb and pecked it. We wondered how loud the explosion would have been and how far it propelled the stupefied bird. The resulting scene is probably legendary now amongst local murders of crows. Indeed, there might even be a new crow religion formed around the incident. They would tell of the martyr, the fallen blue-black feathered hero, who gave his life so that others could enjoy a spectacular buffet of turkey flavoured manna from heaven.
That night we had cold cereal for supper.