“Well, if anything bad happens, at least Robyn is here to keep me company,” I thought. For some time, I had been listening to the audiobook Activist Theology by Robyn Henderson-Espinoza, and my business had prevented me from getting deeper into it. And yet, getting to the deepest level of the house provided just that opportunity.
Wearing clothing that covered most of my body, except for my embarrassed lower back and face, I crawled through the one opening that the builders of the parsonage intentionally created for humans, my body barely sitting hunched over under the parsonage. My mind began to race, thinking about the underbelly — both of the house and my body, which felt the air creeping in from under the hoodie.
“So, this is what lies unseen, under every creepy, creaky floorboard,” I thought. It was a vast expanse of plastic, attempting to cover up the dirt floor, cut haphazardly around duct work and brick pillars which held the house up. To the right, someone had ditched a couple of old pieces to the heating system. The story in my head was that they were too expensive to merely throw away, so they were stored there, so my predecessor could feel better about the necessary upgrade, our current heating arrangement.
My thoughts were interrupted by a million small dust particles floating in front of my vision, the final descent of decaying skin cells and stuff in the carpet, falling through the floor cracks of the house and mixing with whatever met its demise under the house. I was there for one reason only — find the smell and clean it up.
As I crawled around, I carried an underwhelming pair of plastic grocery bags, one inside of the other. Wifey’s words hung in my ears, even as I tried to pay attention to Robyn, talking about disruption and healing. “It’s probably a tomb of Hitchhike’s victims down there.” Hitchhike, our small, young orange, female cat, had been seen many times coming and going from an opening under the house. “Could there be a dead bird or two?”
I intentionally started around the less smelly area of the house, knowing that if I found one dead object, where the smelliness was, I would immediately grab it and leave, abandoning the rest of the project. Starting off to the right, I crawled past the deceased heating unit parts, and made my way with ease to the back, right corner of the house.
This was also the less obstructed piece of the house, with most of the duct work being on the other side. In about five minutes, I felt like a professional, thinking, “You know, I could make my job as a handyman. This isn’t so bad.”
I was picking up little bits of feather and cat poop, confirming the hunch that our cat had been feasting on the neighborhood wildlife down here. My heart sank a little bit, being upset that she was endangering the birds for which we had put baths and feeders around the yard. And then my attention was grabbed by something.
Crawling around on the floor, I had felt soft dirt giving way under crinkly plastic tarps. And then, something firm. “Oh that is gross,” I thought, as I looked down at what my hand had accidentally pressed down upon, as I crawled around.