It's during the yard work that we spot the water dripping down the outside of the foundation. I get out the ladder and clean all the gutters, then head down into the crawlspace under the parlor (that sounds pretentious, but "parlor/laundry room" sounds stupid) -- a place I've never actually ventured before.
It's clean and concrete-floored and the floor joists above are insulated -- this is the new part of the cellar. However, since it's at least partly below ground, I'd donned my spelunking gear: a backwards baseball cap (underground is the only acceptable locale for that particular fashion statement), safety goggles, dust mask, paint pants, work gloves, boots. You know, in case I come across a spider.
I crawl like a worm over to the corner, where sure enough there's some water dripping down the inside of the foundation. The insulation above seems pendulous, and ripples ominously when I poke it. My wife brings down a bucket and heaves it to me. I cut a hole in the insulation and let it drain. It drains. And drains. I run out to the store, have dinner, build a car from a kit, paint the Sistine Chapel, come back. It's still draining.
Using my homeowner's skilz, I deduce that there is some water up in there. It's apparently leaked down either 1) the inside of the walls or 2) the outside of the walls. If there's a third option -- perhaps the walls were actually made of water and they're melting? maybe the Borrowers left the tub running? -- I don't know what it is.
Worse, I don't know what the source of the water is, even after cutting away the insulation. I rule out the washing machine, because it's not wet anywhere near it and the water would be on top of the floor, which it's not. It's either a leaking radiator pipe or my first thought -- that the gutters had overflowed. I can't satisfactorily select either, which makes me seize up...which expert to call?
So I'm just lying there on the floor of the crawl space, nice and cool, listening to the burble of the water trickling into my bucket, remembering Richard Carlson and wondering what the hell I've done with that god damned book, when my wife sticks her head back in and asks "what's the story with the dead mouse?"
"Which one's that?" I moan, thinking about just what a Sunday conversation this is going to be.
"The one in the dining room. Did you kill it?"
"What are you asking me? Does it have a story?"
"It's under your shoe."
"Your shoe. The ones you were wearing this morning."
"To the diner?" we both say. "Yes," she answers us.
"Is it, like, guts and everything?"
"I don't know," she says. "It's sorta squished. You must have stepped on it..."
She's of the opinion that the mouse is my job -- not because she's squeamish (not about mice, anyway), but because I'd apparently been the stepper. Reluctantly, I leave the pleasant woodland sound of the water filling my bucket, crawl forth from my little sanctuary under the parlor/laundry room and hoist my chemical-resistant corpus upstairs.
It's dead, but it's not a mouse. It's a mole. Possibly the unluckiest mole that ever lived. He must have popped himself outside -- "Back in a sec, hon, just gonna grab a worm...need anything?" and got trod upon, then sorta got stuck in the arch of my Skecher. Fortunately protected from any animal contact by my nature-proof clothing, I pick it up and bring it outside. Some crows are loitering in the backyard. I toss it to them and go back in to consult smarter homeowners than me about the water.
Ahh, Sunday, you never fail to deliver. Still, I'd rather be the human with the unwanted damp crawlspace than the mole who'll never go back to his.