(2nd in this challenge)
When I arrived home, police had broken through our front door all because some neighbor had decided we were concealing a dead body. I met the officers huddled near our first floor bathroom. Nine gazed at me with accusation. They shooed the stench in unison. My husband nodded, conversation in his eyebrows. He clenched me just before I slid on sawdust into the gorge that they’d carved, whispered to me.
“We had a dead rat,” I explained to the police as relaxed as I could. “We’d placed poison out and it died beneath the floorboards. We couldn’t get it out without excavating half the house so we’d decided to leave it, let it decompose.”
“Come on,” my husband said. “You could only smell it outside before y’all tore into the floor.”
Flies had gotten to it. Thousands. With the floor opened, they crowded the crowd, chitter-chattering louder than us all. That morning, the neighbor had witnessed me in ski goggles and a hoodie outside, sweeping the air with yellow sticky paper. And so, of course, they had assumed and those assumptions had attracted this investigation.
All of our calm was needed to convince the officers while the foulness sickened them. Even with the maggoty rat inflating at the end of their shovel, teeth screeching, “Yes!”, they still wanted to circle where it had been and dig more. Someone in charge stopped them; they didn’t want whatever poison that had killed the pest to rise in the air. They believed us. Hands were shaken, apologies were made, cars were loaded.
After the police had left, after my husband had bulwarked the doorway, and I had persuaded the flies through the windows that I hadn’t persuaded into the vacuum hose, he looked upon the gorge, a new stink in the air, and asked:
“What will we do about the others?”
I said, “Get another rat.”