Sweat the Small Stuff
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Saturday was customarily the day that John Mason cleaned his garage and headed off to the links for eighteen holes with his buddies.

John sensed things would be different today, the minute he flipped on the garage light and saw the collection of leaves and debris on the floor. He and his wife always parked their cars in the driveway on Friday to clear the way for the routine cleaning of the garage floor, only this morning it would take more than a quick hosing to clear the surface. Too much junk on the floor to use the hose this morning, he reasoned. I’ll just give it a quick sweep and be off to the club.

He raised the door of the two-and-a-half car wide garage. He started at the back of the garage by the door that led to the house. Leaves and debris from the construction of two new houses across the street had blown into his garage during the week.

I wish Brenda would keep the garage door closed during the day to keep that stuff from blowing in. John’s sweeping was measured; one foot at a time across the width of the floor.

Fortunately there was no breeze to blow the debris back. He worked each pile toward the center of the floor, which was marked by a six inch in diameter drain in the center of the garage. Most Saturdays, John used a garden hose to wash a thin layer of dust that had accumulated during that week, down the drain. Today, the drain was being used as a half-way guide for what he had swept. John methodically pushed the piles toward the drain.

When he was satisfied that he had enough accumulated, he picked up a whisk broom and dustpan. As he bent down to gather up the leaves and debris, he heard a scratching sound coming from the drain cover. He dropped the pan and brush and stepped away. His first thought was that a rat was trying to escape from the drain. He wasn’t sure how the cover was attached to the drain pipe. I sure hope that it’s secure.

As he backed away from the drain, John scanned the shelves and peg boards for possible weapons. His eyes fell upon a spray bottle of wasp killer. It shot an eight foot stream that would keep him safely away from the drain. Another possibility was a half empty quart bottle of grub poison. He grabbed both and inched his way toward the sound. He sent the jet stream of wasp killer out first, moved in quickly to dump the grub killer and jumped back.

John strained to hear any sound. The drain went silent. He waited for several minutes before timidly approaching the drain and peering into the small holes. He could see nothing. He tried a flashlight, but the holes were too small to see anything clearly. The only way he was going to know for certain what was making the sound, was to pry off the drain cover.

John was looking around the garage for the proper tool to use, when he spotted his neighbor, Pete Gardner walking his dog. He motioned for him to come into the garage. As Pete and dog entered, John said, “You’re not going to believe this, but I just killed a rat in this drain.”

“Are you kidding me?”

“I wouldn’t kid about something like that. I heard a scratching sound on the cover. All I could think to do was pour some poison down the drain and the scratching sound stopped.”

“How do you know it’s a rat? Did you see it?”

“I don’t know for sure, but what else could it be? Rats are common around construction sites and they certainly like to live in sewers.”

“That stuff you used sure smells nasty. What if it just chased it off?”

“I don’t know. I was just about to pry the cover off and look in. I don’t really want to, but with the kids I certainly can’t just ignore it. Besides, if it is a rat, the Health Department should be notified.”

Peter fastened the dog to an overhead door guide and stood by with a broom as John used a crow bar to pry off the cover. It was dark in the hole, but with the flashlight John could see something wedged about a foot down the pipe. It was impossible to make out what it was. He looked at the assortment of garden tools he had hanging on peg boards but none was narrow enough to probe the depths of the pipe. It took another five minutes for John and Peter to jerry-rig a clothes hook and weeder into a gaff narrow enough to slide down the hole. John inched the tool into the opening until it made contact. He twisted it several times until a slight resistance told him that his quarry was hooked. He pulled it up slowly. As it cleared the opening the tool slipped from his hand and fell to the garage floor with its prey intact. One end hit the floor with aloud clang, the other end with a dull thud.

A look of shock bordering on terror appeared on their faces. There, on the garage floor, at the end of a clothes hook, was a miniature man, naked except for a small loincloth. It was only six inches long, but even with the grime covering the body, there was no mistaking that anatomically it resembled a human. Laying on the floor of John Mason’s garage was a miniature person; a very dead miniature person.

John and Peter just stood there with their eyes transfixed on the body. They both let out a gasp; the dog, a high pitched howl.

When things got quiet again, John and Peter heard a scratching sound emanating from the empty pipe. It was the same sound that John heard fifteen minutes earlier.

The warning is clear to those willing to listen…sometimes it is wise to SWEAT THE SMALL STUFF.

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