Thursday, May 13, 2010

Post-Diluvian Follies: Frigi... Dare!

I saved the wretched kitchen for last. Floodwater slopped as I gingerly carried pots and pans to the back door where I tossed them in a rusty heap. Flies buzzed furiously as I scooped armloads of dry goods into trash bags. And there was the refrigerator, the white behemoth lying sideways in a pool of its own filth. It terrified me.

The plan was to stand it upright, then slide it across the floor through the goo, and finally shove it out the backdoor into the yard—not a long-term solution but good enough for now. I squatted down, got a grip, and heaved. It was much heavier than I’d expected. I heaved again, got my legs underneath, and with all my strength tipped it upright.

The plan went awry.

The refrigerator door swung open. Twenty-odd cubic feet of yellow-brown, frothy floodwater and rancid foodstuffs—vegetables, meat, Ziploc bags whose contents had liquefied, eggs whose shells had turned soft and translucent—gushed out and surged across the floor, splashing everywhere. (Sadly, I wasn’t wearing my ridiculous but waterproof overalls.)


The smell slammed me in the face. (My mask typically blocked even the most noxious of aromas, so the unmediated stench must have been simply horrific.) I felt the vomit surge in my throat. Though uncertain of the exact consequences of puking into my respirator, I was pretty sure it was the heinous first step in a hideous comedy-of-errors chain reaction that should be avoided at all costs. I had to leave.

I staggered backwards, slipped, and nearly fell into the carpet of maggots, lunged forward through the house and out the door, ripped my mask off, and gasped deeply.

I took a particularly vigorous shower that evening.

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