Things were getting better. The initial shock was wearing off, and folks were busy with clean up, insurance, estimates, adjusters, livestock, crop evaluations. There was still no power, but we were all making do. It’s amazing how clean you can get with a bottle of water and a washcloth.
Out at Mama and Daddy’s the “Little House on the Prairie” camp was working so well, they reported they “lacked for nothing.” A friend had come by with a chainsaw and made fast work of the few trees still down, doing in 30 minutes what was taking hours for us to do with a band-saw and a hatchet. Now, Daddy’s primary concern was the pecan tree balanced on top of the gas tank in the backyard. “What if it explodes?” I asked. “Well, I guess we’ll find out,” he answered.
After settling the boys on the air-mattress beside our bed, I opened the windows in our bedroom for some fresh air. It was still raining, but the gusts were less frequent. Dark as pitch, I couldn’t tell how much damage had been done but knew when dawn broke things would be different.
After a while, it was cool in the bedroom. Paisley sat at the foot of our bed, something he is never allowed to do, but he knew something was different. His chin rested on his salt-and-pepper front paws that stretched out in front of him, but his ears stood at attention, guarding us.
“Babe, we might have to call somebody,” I said, using the small, quiet, whispery voice I use when I’m breaking bad news. After the thorough cleaning I’d already given it, the smell emanating from the refrigerator should’ve disappeared, but it hadn’t. Within 24 hours it had gone from curious and off-putting to unbearable, and I was convinced, potentially toxic.