The horror scene started, not with a dark and stormy night, but with a much more respectable cliche: a power outage. That led to a god-awful smell that led to me loading Hefty bags into an SUV that led to a late-night Dumpster trip.
By the end of it all, I began to suspect myself of a heinous crime. That is, I suspected my neighbors might suspect it. I know, the whole thing sounds a little suspect. But I can explain - to you and to Your Honor.
Let the record reflect that the real culprits here are "Dateline" and "48 Hours." See, my husband and I curl up twice a week with the lights off to watch real-life murder mysteries on these programs.
They have forever changed the way I perceive things such as life insurance policies, cellphone records and surprise meals prepared by the man I married. That last one has meant that, at the girlish age of 35, I still insist we do everything "on the count of three."
Because, as these murder mysteries ingrain into our no-longer-innocent minds, everyone is a suspect. And everything is evidence. Especially if your garage smells to the nose how a James Brown-Rick James mashup sounds to the ears. Like pure, unadulterated funk. Let the record also reflect that it's always best, not to smell or hear the funk, but to feel it.
I should probably note that this all went down when my husband was out of town for a week. The second day without him, I discovered a faulty outlet in the guest bathroom where I curl my hair. Knowing other outlets exist in the house, I still used this as an excuse not to curl my hair. Instead, I made a mental note to check the fuse box and went about my day.
One day of frizz passed before I noticed the coffeemaker had also gone kaput. Two days of frizz passed when I got the first whiff of the garbage. At least, I thought it was the garbage. Cue the crashes of thunder.
Now, if this had been one of those murder mysteries, this would be the point where they'd break to a commercial. The reporter narrating the story would stamp a real sophisticated title on it, like "Guilt in the Garage," give a sneak peek of what's ahead (someone in an orange jumpsuit declaring innocence) and tell viewers in a slightly creepy tone to "stay with us." And, we always stay with them.
Hopefully, you've stayed, too, because we now return to "Guilt in the Garage."
After three unsuccessful trips to the fuse box, I gave up on that curling iron outlet. Clearly, this called for an electrician.
The next morning, I left for work with no coffee, frizzy hair and a real appreciation for the garbage collectors who were scheduled to swing by any minute.
When I returned home late that night, however, I was head-butted with a smell that could've offended the trunk of Casey Anthony's car. With an empty garbage can on the curb, it all came together.
The extra freezer in the hot garage sucked up all the energy on one side of the house, causing a power outage. The same extra freezer that stored all our chicken, pork and beef. And our wedding cake.
Nothing distracts sentimentality like the foulest of foul odors. Crying over spoiled wedding cake could wait. I still had to clean this thing. Without a hazmat suit.
Approaching the freezer warranted horror film music. Lifting the lid deserved horror film screams. There were bubbles and the sound of squish. And the smell. Dear God, the smell.
Forget the spoon, people. If you want someone to gag you, ask them for the scent of a powerless freezer full of raw meat. So much more effective.
During the cleanup, I realized my very vigilant neighbor hadn't seen my husband in a week. She was probably watching me tote five Hefty bags from the foul-smelling garage to my missing husband's SUV in the middle of the night.
I could almost hear her on the stand. "They seemed so happy."
Exhibit A would be the surveillance video from the shopping center I sped to, every window rolled down. What a dreadful sight: Braless and flip-flopped, tossing those bags with the determination of a javelin thrower. All the while rapper 2 Chainz blasts on the car radio. I would be slumped over with shame in that hypothetical courtroom, for sure.
But no murder mystery is complete without a crazy twist.
The husband came back. With a flip of a switch on the freezer, so did the curling iron outlet and the coffeemaker. The frizz might be here to stay, though. I've convinced myself that lazy looks good on me.
The real victim here was our wedding cake. We're calling it dessert slaughter in the first degree, committed by the absent-mindedness of yours truly. Because everyone is a suspect and everything is evidence.
Contact Xazmin Garza at firstname.lastname@example.org or 702-383-0477. Follow her on Twitter @startswithanx.