A smell a week in the making

“Dear Lord, did someone die in here?”We rolled down the windows. We blasted the air conditioning. I considered driving the car through the car wash with the sunroof open.

We had just returned to our car after it sat in the sun for a week while we went on a cruise. In our absence, something went wrong — very, very wrong. What in all the stench was that smell?

The answer: an egg — or what once was an egg. Now it looked more like a tennis ball or perhaps the hairy wart surgically removed off the back of a Muppet. There’s a reason we use the mark of being a rotten egg as something terrible. But you could hardly qualify this as a rotten egg. During the time after we picked up my son from school and drove directly off toward spring break, the egg had picked up its stench in the depths of hell, coming out the other side of a week of sitting inside his lunchbox — inside his backpack, inside our sun-drenched car — with its own set of lungs. I swear the thing was breathing.

When we first found the leftovers of my son’s most recent school lunch, I instinctively threw everything down on my in-laws’ front yard. In addition to the mass previously known as a peeled hard-boiled egg, there were blueberries that now wore a rather pleasant-looking thick layer of white fluffy mold, as if the berries had gone for a frolic in the snow.

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We had seen vultures down the street, making a meal of roadkill. “The vultures will come,” my mother-in-law said. But as the scent wafted down toward them, the vultures did not come. No one would be coming for the egg.

The neighborhood feral cat came over to the egg and sniffed. “The cat will take the egg,” my mother-in-law said. The cat arched its back and ran off. No one would be coming for the egg.

“What should we do with it?” we asked. By this point, the entire neighborhood seemed to be under a green cloud of stink from my son’s lunchbox.

“We could throw it into the lake,” someone suggested. But there was wildlife in the lake — fish, turtles and alligators. Did we want to be responsible for their going belly up? No, we could not throw it into the lake. A trash bin was suggested, but obviously not my in-laws’ trash. This egg would stink up the garage and then the whole house. And seeing as it was clearly alive, there was a chance it would crawl out of the bin and sneak into the home to watch “Game of Thrones” while my in-laws slept. They’d wake to a trail of green furry slime. They’d have to move. But no one would buy a house smelling so terrible. So they’d have to burn it down, claim an electric fire and collect insurance. I don’t believe my in-laws to be adept liars, so they’d wind up in prison for arson. Plus, they’d wind up having to pay for years of HBO because the egg would order it and no one would be around to cancel the subscription. No, their trash bin was off-limits.

While we debated where to put the death nugget, we wrapped it up in foil and then put it in five plastic bags, each one securely tied inside the next. I half expected my hands to burn off as if melted from acid in the process.

After the removal, I poured bleach into the lunchbox until it was brimming. The section that once held the egg turned white and bubbled. I could swear I could hear an evil cackling from the egg inside the foil inside the bags.

It’s been nearly a week since the discovery. The car has been washed, Febrezed and washed again. It’s going to survive the trauma. The backpack and the lunchbox remain on life-support despite the constant washings and bleachings.

Check your kids’ lunchboxes, friends.


Katiedid Langrock is a

nationally syndicated columnist.