On Tuesday morning before work, I slipped over to Joan's house to pick a couple more peonies to have at my desk. I opened the back gate, walked up the sidewalk, and --ugh. A dead squirrel, newly expired, lay sprawled in the middle of the walkway.
This was almost certainly the same squirrel that Riley and I had seen on Sunday. He was sitting in the middle of the alley then, staring glassily into space, his jaws working as though he were chewing gum, his lips covered with foam. Riley stared through the fence for a long time but didn't bark, awed, perhaps, in the presence of death.
The squirrel eventually ran to the top of a fence post and stayed there the rest of the afternoon. I suspect some time in the night he found his way to Joan's peonies and died. Not a bad place to die.
So yesterday I decided that when I got home from work I would remove the squirrel. The last thing an abandoned house needs is dead animals rotting away in the yard.
But by the time I got home last night it was 9 p.m. and raining hard, so I waited until this morning. It was still raining, but I had to take Boscoe out anyway. I walked him around the block and then left him chewing sweet grass along the side of the alley, and I opened the gate to Joan's back yard.
The squirrel was soaked, flattened, looking much deader than yesterday. Even in the rain, there were flies and ants. I had a mutt mitt ready--I was going to pick him up the way I clean up after the dogs, with my hand inside the sack so as not to touch anything--but the squirrel looked a lot bigger than I remembered. His eyes were white and filmy and I had this horrible thought that he was going to suddenly get up, Zombie Squirrel, and stalk toward me.
Put Boscoe in the yard. Got a shovel, and scrounged around in the garage and found an empty charcoal briquets bag. Nice and big. Nice and sturdy. It would hold a dead squirrel. It would hold a lot of dead squirrels. But fortunately I only had one.
The shovel was something of overkill; a small trowel would have worked better. This was a spade, with a long wooden handle, heavy and awkward for this kind of maneuver. It took some doing, but I was able to sort of shove the squirrel over to the side of Joan's house wall and then push him into the bag. He did not wake up. No Zombie Squirrel. I closed the bag, trotted back down the alley, and dumped him in our trash.
Today is trash day. Here's hoping there isn't a strike. We need this load to go.