The Dryer Vent Surprise
I suck at honey-do lists.
"Honey, can you Glue the broken arm on the kitchen chair?"
I've done it twice and it keeps breaking...think maybe we should just get a new one?
"Honey, can you change out the broken lightbulb?"
There's still three working...
"Well, can you at least--"
Sorry, darlin', there's readers waiting on books! The Salt awaits!
Some of my reasoning for general suckiness at ticking off items on the honey-do list is our house is a natural disaster zone. With two kiddos under 5, it doesn't matter what you do all day, a whirlwind of Little Miss and her toddler sidekick have dealt destruction anew by 8:30 p.m.
But my wife has recently crusaded we should be better.
Thus, my honey-do list.
Yesterday, I decided to tackle item #5,341 - Clean the lint out of the dryer vent line.
And that's where things got interesting...
To preface, we've lived in this home for four years now.
The dryer and I have waged our war before when towels and whatnot aren't fully dried. We've also noticed an odd smell sometimes that my wife insisted was mildew and I argued was something more sinister. (*She rolled her eyes on that one and chalked such an idea up to my being dramatic.)
In previous bouts with the dryer, I would go outside and remove the vent cover, then reach my arm in as far as possible and pull out any/all lint I could. Seeing as those earlier attempts clearly hadn't resolved the issue, yesterday I decided to be my wife's valiant knight and fix this bad boy for good and all.
Aided by trusty wire hanger turned snake-like tool, I used the hooked end to reach further in than I could on my own. Still, I found that the end struck something hard inside the pipe when there should be nothing but lint and space. I grabbed the flashlight and, from what I could tell, saw something that clearly wasn't lint.
The wire hanger wasn't working to dislodge said 'something', so I traded it in for a fire poker and what did I fish out of the dryer vent line, my curious friends?
I pulled out the longest one (a fibula or tibula?) of the vent line and sat it on the concrete next to my oldest daughter and my horrified wife.
"What is that?" she asked.
"That, my dear, is a bone..."
"An animal's, right?"
Aaron's First Take
So whattaya do when you've just fished out bones from your dryer vent line that shouldn't be there and might maybe be human remains?
Text Dad a picture.
His response: "Hard to tell how it got there, or how long, just make sure it's all out."
Yep. Sure thing, Dad. Just make sure I get all of John Doe's remains out of my dryer and chuck them into the garbage bin. As you do.
Anyway, I didn't wanna seem like the crazy guy calling the cops about these bones I found in the dryer vent, so I Googled a bunch of different animal skeletons and a human one trying to compare. I figured the bones looked like a knee or leg, but couldn't really determine what kind of species they resembled. After a lengthy conversation with other friends and family (all of whom who believed I wasn't crazy and why the heck would you find bones stuffed in a vent unless someone was trying to stash a body part), I took the bones to a local veterinarian to see if they could tell me what kind they were.
A Trip To The Vet
So I'm standing in the parking lot, looking at the animal clinic, feeling like an idiot as I hold my bag of bones.
I go in anyway.
There's a mother and her daughter with their dog waiting to be vaccinated and the receptionist says she'll be with me in a minute.
Meanwhile, I'm hanging out...watching Ellen...with my bones.
The daughter looks at my Walmart plastic sack that I'm carrying said bones in and says: "What is that in there? A snake?"
"Nope," says I. "Got these bones..."
And pull one of them out to see everyone lose their minds.
"Where did you get those?"
"That looks human..."
I explain the story to them, ask if the vet can take a look, etc.
The vet confirms the bones were not canine and advised me take them to the police.
So off I go toward my next destination....because that's what you do when you think you have a good story, friends. You chase the lead.
So I'm standing in the parking lot of the police station, feeling like an idiot, again.
I go in anyway.
Officer behind the counter sees my Walmart sack and asks what I need.
Aaron shrugs. "Got these bones..." I pulled one out and witness the officer have the same reaction everyone else but Dad had. "Found them stuffed up in my dryer vent line."
The officer sighs, then passes me a form to fill out.
"Uh...don't you want the bones?"
The officer shakes his head. "Just fill the form out, son."
I did and, again, asked if they wanted to take the bones.
The receptionist told me I had to talk with a deputy, but that I'd need to wait an hour or so.
I didn't feel like I could seeing as I had a wife at home wondering when, how soon, and if we would be able to sell the house after the story broke about the family that found bones stuffed in their dryer vent. (Also, I had a four year old waiting at home asking why I took the bones away and if she could play with them). I ask the receptionist if I could just give them the bones and they could call me if they needed.
She told me I could go home and call it in, then gave me the form I had just filled out.
Guys, the police wouldn't take the bones!!!
They canceled my report, then let me walk out of the station with the bones and the report that I'd written for them. The whole drive home, I'm thinking: What if I was a crazy murderer who, in a fit of guilt, was trying to bring in the bones of my victim to confess and they just sent me on my way?
The Doctor Calls
So I get home and my wife's over the whole 'we found bones' story.
Now, she's making fun of me for playing junior detective all afternoon.
I call the police dispatch and sit down at the kitchen table - (and nearly fell out of my chair because the arm of it needs to be glued again) - to wait for their arrival.
Insert wife comment: "Sure, just set the bones on my kitchen table, Aaron. It's fine. That's not weird at all."
In the waiting time, my doctor cousin calls me back and I show him the bones.
"Whoa," said he. "I thought you were gonna show me mouse bones or something."
"Yeah, these aren't mouse bones."
"No. No, they're not."
"Buuuut, they're not human either though, right?"
"Nah," said he. "I'd say it's probably an herbivore. Maybe a deer, or a calf. Something like that. It's definitely a knee though. You've got all the pieces, but one."
Mystery #1 solved.
We Got A Report About Some Bones?
Literally seconds after I ended the call with my doctor cousin, I get a knock at the door.
The boys in blue had arrived.
The officer outside says: "So, I hear you found some, like, chicken bones in your dry--" He sees the bones and does a double take. "Uh, those aren't chicken bones."
"No, no, it's cool," says I. "I just got off the phone with my doctor cousin who said they're not human. They're just bones from a deer or a calf. Sorry. I was just going to call and cancel the report when you showed up."
The officer nods his head. "Okay."
And then he walks off.
And again I wonder: How does he know they're not human? Or that my cousin's a doctor? He just saw bones on my kitchen counter and he's not suspicious at all?
While I'm obviously thrilled these remains were not human. I'm not gonna lie...I was kinda disappointed.
Yes, you can say that's morbid, but come on! It's not every day you discover bones tucked way, way up in a dryer vent shaft! Are you kidding me?
(Oh, and besides, if you made it this far into the post, you were wondering if they were human bones too, so you're in this with me now!)
All of the above leads me to Mystery question #2....
How the crap did these bones end up in my dryer vent line?
Again, there's no way an animal could have dragged them up there because:
Which leads me to the only other conclusion I can come up with...
Someone put them there.
It's 24 hours later and I still have crazy questions, people.
Was it a disgruntled homeowner who left us a fun surprise? Is there some kinda crazy curse on these bones that I'm unaware of and someone will one day knock on my door to claim them? Why would someone saw off a deer/calf leg and then shove it up into a dryer vent line?!?
We may never know the answer to Mystery #2.
The good news is I'm a writer - I'll make one up.
I'm totally gonna write up a story about this with fictional liberties, of course.
1) Why is Dad always right?
2) Turns out the cops know their business - they could have had calf/deer bones sitting in an evidence room, but instead I get to keep them. Win-win.
3) I had my sister-in-law convinced the bones were human and she almost threw up when I showed her the bits that had been sawed off. She'd believe the story still if my wife hadn't ruined it.
4) The honey-do list didn't get finished.
9/14/2016 05:54:30 pm
I was on the edge of my seat hoping they were human. My disappointment will only be calmed by the reading of whatever story you might create. You owe me.
9/19/2016 02:24:00 pm
Hopefully I'll repay in full. All in good time, my friend. ;)
10/14/2016 06:25:52 am
By golly, you better be in the process of writing a thriller about this experience! Like you, I was a tad bit disappointed though thrilled you weren't instructed to vacate your home due to a cold case come to life. I want to receive the first autograph copy of this, yet again, best seller!
You are an incredible story teller, and yeah, I'm bummed they are not human. (that's so wrong). Maybe a prior owner tried to make his/her own "snake tool" out of the bones of a recent hunt? repurposing and all that? He (or she, of course) strung those bones together, tried to push em through to clear the line, and then they stuck there. Yeahhhhh, that's the ticket. I think you should have them dated and then research who lived in your house that long ago!
9/19/2016 02:25:16 pm
Thanks, Kristine! I had fun writing a recap of my journey that day. I dunno who owned this place before, but I'm...intrigued? Morbidly fascinated? Not sure if I want to them or not...
9/14/2016 08:49:22 pm
Dude. Smudge your house. SMUDGE YOUR HOUSE NOW.
9/19/2016 02:27:18 pm
House has been smudged! Wish you could've been here so I could've seen your face when I pulled bones out of the dryer vent! haha.
9/15/2016 10:37:39 am
Loved the story Aaron!!!
9/19/2016 02:27:38 pm
Thanks, Jen! It was a fun day! :)
9/17/2016 04:14:05 am
Well that tops the "Random Stories I've Read" list! What is it about us that makes us crave a great mystery? I, too, was very excited to find out the mystery of the bones, in hopes that they might be human. Perhaps you have a slightly sadistic neighbor what found an ingenious way to gross you out? I think I would try to have them dated too. Probably a waste of time and money, but hey, ride it out!
9/19/2016 02:29:41 pm
I dunno what it is that makes us a crave a good mystery, but I was all over that day! I did keep the bones because, like you, I remain curious as to the exact kind of animal they are + how old they are/long they could've been tucked up in there. I'll update if/when I find out! :)
5/6/2022 04:25:13 am
Woah, you're incredible! Love the story, thanks for sharing this with us.
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