I found myself outside of our house, swallowed by a night so muggy and humid that I could swim to the back door faster than I could walk there. I stood near the back of the driveway and stared down my opponent: a pile of trash which could nearly match me in height and weight. It stared back, and didn't blink.
Kate, my usual partner in crime, and Julie, the laziest of my roommates, stood behind me in a mix of their night clothes and whichever shoes were closest to the door. Julie was the first to step forward and attack.
This monster was the product of our own laziness and inadequacy. We had, in our zeal to move in, set up internet, electricity, and water (in that order) and called it a day. Garbage collection never entered my mind until I finally read that letter from my landlord nearly four days after move-in. Of course, by then it was too late to have garbage pickup until next week.
Julie and I each grabbed two bags, holding them at arms' length, while Kate took up one particularly nasty-looking one and attempted to wrestle it into some configuration which would keep it as far from her as possible. We marched them somberly down the driveway to the curb.
This pile of garbage didn't accumulate over night. It started with the boxes. Robel and I moved in and unpacked our furniture. The remnants were several cardboard boxes. "I've just been setting them on the side of the house," said Robel. I was happy to comply. The side of the house seemed so far away. So out of mind.
"It's leaking! It's leaking!" Said Julie in her distressed voice. We could only keep marching as she was sprayed with liquid, the nature of which we hesitated to question. We reached the curb to find that there was, in fact, a garbage collection bin there. Good, this is good. Better than setting the bags on the curb in our lawn, as was the original plan.
A cardboard box is a harmless thing. It can be set in the grass on the side of the house, with all of its various contents inside, to be picked up at a later date and tossed into the garbage, or the recycling if you're really feeling wild. But after two weeks of garbage buildup and nonstop rain, a cardboard box becomes a very different sort of thing. No longer a contained entity, it splits into several smaller creatures which cannot all be picked up easily with one hand. It wore a crown of about 10 kitchen bags, filled with all the things we wanted to get out of out house as soon as possible.
We wheeled the garbage bin back to the cardboard-toothed monster, and began the daunting task of moving each bag roughly three feet into the bin.
"Maggots! Maggots!" screamed Kate, as she unveiled a second fermenting layer of garbage bags.
We peeled back maybe three layers, each more disgusting than the last, having had time to mature out here in the wild. Finally we reached the bottom few trash bags. They were slimy. They had not been tied shut, and their contents threatened to spill all over the grass were they moved in the wrong sort of way.
"Well," said Julie, gesturing toward the remaining bags, "You're a man, Nick."
They both looked at me. My mind wandered to the missing members of our family. I wish I had made Robel come out here, even though he was clearly trying to get some sleep before morning classes. Where is Anna? I haven't seen Anna since practice. If only Paul were conscious, I would drag him up from the basement and have him move these last few bags.
But I guess it's on me.
I carefully transplanted each bag, grabbing them by as little as I could in an attempt to minimize my exposure to their secretions. I took the flashlight from Kate to keep it steadily on the bags, making sure nothing could jump out and take me by surprise.
Finally we slammed the lid on those awful creatures (A lid that refused to fully close) and dragged the garbage bin back to the curb. As we headed inside, I took a remorseful glance at the cardboard base of our resident monster; the bin was too full to accommodate the last of the creature. Though we had taken the day, it was still there, waiting for us. It would grow back. It would be here next week.
An uneasy victory.