5 am events
"Doug," I say, "I smell skunk. That means one of two things, and one of them is very bad."
"I was dreaming someone was using a lighter," he says. We stumble out of bed, no lights, I put on my bathrobe and go smelling around. Doug turns off the cooling system.
The smell is strongest in our bedroom and in the laundry room by the furnace. Doug finds a flashlight, and by its light I search the phone book.
I tell the woman who answers, "I smell skunk. It's strongest near the furnace."
"I don't know what we can do about that," she says.
I stop. What? "Ummm, doesn't leaking gas smell like skunk?"
"Oh no," she says. "We use ------." My sleep-fogged brain does not catch the name. "It's a very strong smell, a very bad smell, and very distinct."
"No, ------. It's very distinctive. We can still send someone out if you want us to check."
"Let me check with my husband."
I report that they don't use skunk. He reports that the smell seems to be dissipating and he doesn't hear any hissing.
"I think we are OK," I say.
"The skunk is a very humble creature," she says. "But when it dies, everyone knows. Do you live in the country?"
"In town." I describe my neighborhood.
"I know where that is," she says. "The skunks go everywhere. Especially after a rain. And especially in the country. Call us back if you want us to send someone out."
"I will," I say. I smile, and let it reach my voice. "Thank you very much."