Wednesday, December 1, 2010

**When You Gotta Do What You Gotta Do

["Let Inga Tell You", La Jolla Light, published December 2, 2010] © 2010

There are times when you just have to lie. 

All right, I can hear my many lovely devout friends shaking their heads and saying, “No, it is NEVER okay to lie.”   So let this be my mea culpa: 

I lied. But if I hadn’t lied, I’d probably still have a dead possum in my front yard.

The day started out innocently enough as I hustled the kids out the door to be dropped off at school on my way to work.  I was a single working parent with two grade school kids.  Getting to my entry level university clerical job was essential to our survival. 

My nine year old, Rory, was the first to see it:  the huge dead possum lying on its back, feet in the air, in our front yard. 

“Cool!” said Rory, racing over to have a closer look.  “Can I bring it to school for Sharing?”

Henri caught up. “Neat!  Let’s name him Bob.” 

“Do NOT touch that!” I yelled, in hot pursuit.  I swear this possum looked like it was meandering happily across the yard and keeled over of a massive marsupial heart attack.  Its big eyes were wide open. 

Like most kids of divorced working mothers, my kids were latch key kids after school.  It was imperative that the possum not be still there when they returned.  Home Alone With Dead Possum Named Bob.  There were no good possibilities there.

Turns out that it is not so easy to get rid of a dead possum.  It’s against the law to put it in your trash.  I called every agency I could think of who might come get it, even Project Wildlife.  They pointed out that they don’t deal with dead wildlife.  Only live wildlife. Hence their name.   I realized I should have told them it was still breathing. Already my mind was operating in perfidy mode.

But finally I connected with the Dead Animal Recovery Bureau.  And yes, there is one.  Absolutely, they said.  We’ll come and get it.  I was massively relieved.  I gave them my address and noted that the decedent was in my front yard.

There was silence.  “Sorry, m’am.  We don’t go on private property.  We only take animals off of public property.”  And before I could say anything further, he said, “No exceptions” and hung up.

This was a dilemma.  Kids are going to be home from school in three hours. Best case, I see Bob tucked into my bed wearing my nightgown.  I told my boss I had a personal emergency and raced home.  Donning rubber gloves I went out to the front yard and surveyed the situation.  Between the yard and the street was a four feet high fence.  There was clearly only one alternative.

Who knew a dead possum could be so heavy?  But once I got a little momentum going (“and a one and a two…”) Bob was airborne. 

Back at work, I was on the phone to the Dead Animal Recovery Bureau reporting a dead possum in the street.

The guy on the phone was suspicious.  “Didn’t you just call?”

“Call?”  I said.

“Well,” he said, “someone just phoned a while ago and reported a dead possum in their yard at this address.”

“Wow, I sure hope it’s not an epidemic,” I replied.  “But this possum is definitely in the street.”  For effect I added, “You might want to report this outbreak to Vector Control.”

When I came home, the kids were distraught that the possum, for whom they had great plans, had disappeared. 

“What happened to Bob?” they asked.

“Some nice animal people came and took Bob away,” I said.  “I’m sorry.”

Well, at least the first part of that line was true.

A former co-worker, Dave, rewrote this column and entitled it "Inga Noir".  Frankly I like it better than my version:

There are times when you just gotta lie.

I can hear my mama now, smackin me upside da head an' sayin I'm gonna burn in hell, burn cuz I lied. But ya gotta know dis. If I hadn't lied, I'd still have da stiff in my yard.

It happened like dis, see. Some mornin' way too early -- and all mornins are too early when your drinkin' till closin' time, waiting for a phone that never rings to tell you you got a new case -- I pulled my hat on an' unchained the front door. Gotta go to work, no matter how many too earlys it is. Punch my timecard, make a buck and a quarter an hour for sittin behind my desk like I's supposed to.

I pushed open the screen and walked across the porch, remindin' myself to get that loose board fixed someday. Everythin' as usual.

Den the screen door kicked open and Rory and Henry come flyin' out like they'd been thrown by the bouncer at Mo's. Rory and Henry. I got dem from a missin' persons case. The missin' person was my spouse, if ya gets me.

Sos Rory jumps over da loose board and runs out to the walk and den stops all sudden. "Hey!" he hollers. "Look at dis! It's a stiff!"

"A stiff!" Henry joined him. "Who's stiff is it? Is is Bob? Did you smack 'em?" he asked, looking back at me, his eyes bulging.

"Get away from dat stiff!" I yelled, pulling Henry back by the ear. "It ain't Bob, I don't know who it is! It ain't mine, you stay away from it!"  That stiff was a sorry sight, eyes wide and starin', as if the big ticker just gave out an' he keeled over right there, all inconsiderate, on my yard.

Here's what I was thinkin'. If I got on the bus to work, see, and left Rory and Henry here with da stiff, who knows what'd happen. I might get home to find it lying on da couch with its head onna pillow and my slippers on its feet. Rory and Henry are kinda weird like dat. Strange.  Not normal.

"You reprobates get ta school," I yelled. "I'm taking care of da stiff."

Turns out it's not so easy to get rid of a stiff in your yard.

I called O'Malley down at da substation. You think he'd think better of me since I took one for him from the Spanetti brothers last February, just doin' my job and all, but it still left a hole in my shoulder and a bigger one in my wallet. But he's still pissed about what happened with that Porter Bros. heist. I kept telling him nothin' personal with dat, I'd pay him back dat reward money some day, but he ain't buying it.

He wasn't buying it today. "A stiff?!" he yelled sos I gotta hold the horn extra-far from my ear. "Is dis you Noir? I'm gonna put you away if I find a stiff in your yard!"

Lucky he can't hear what I say after I hang up. But he gives me an idea. I put on my rubber gloves, see, the ones I keep in my back pocket. You know, just in case. I go out and I grab that stiff, and with a couple of da back and forths and a big heave, I toss it right over into da alley.  Makes a funny sound when it lands. I try not to remember dat sound.

I get O'Malley on the horn again. "Is this you Noir?!" he bellows, like it's me that got the hearin' problem. "I'm sending you up dis time, got  that?? You ain't comin' back for 10 years, and that's if yer lucky!!"

I do dat little high-pitched voice I use sometimes. Usually times like dis when I'm talkin' to da cops, but I ain't sayin' when else. "Nah, I mean, no, it's ... um ... Inga. Yeah, dis ... this is Inga. I gotta stiff in the alleyway. I mean, body. Come get it, will yous guys?"

So whens Henry and Rory finally get back from delinquency school, dere all sad cuz the stiff ain't in da yard any more. "What happened to Bob?" they say. "Did ya sink him? Jersey river job?" Henry starts lookin' round like he's gonna see lead weights just lyin' there.

"Nah," I say. "Some nice people came and took it away."

Well, at least I was only lying about the "nice" part.


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