My daughter found an old dumbwaiter in her closet. I never even knew we had one. It led down to the basement, but apparently the compartment got bricked up before we moved in.
She was pretty disappointed when I told her I wasn’t going to break down the wall and make the thing functional again.
She wanted to send me little presents from her room while I was watching the game in the basement. Still, she liked hanging out in her closet and pulling the thing up and down.
I figured there were worse things she could find interesting.
One weekend, the girls were playing in their room. They were using the dumbwaiter, as always; sending one of their dolls down, making up a little story, and then “rescuing” it.
I heard a little bump when the kids accidentally hit the bottom of the shaft with the dumbwaiter compartment. Then they pulled it back up.
The the youngest one screamed. I didn’t flinch. They’re 4 and 7. They’re always screaming. But then her sister started in.
My wife and I ran upstairs and the girls were backed up against the far side of the wall wailing and crying. I tried to ask them what was wrong but they were inconsolable.
The older one pointed at the closet. I went inside and looked. Inside the dumbwaiter compartment was their pet hamster, only really, really messed up.
Its eyes were expelled from its sockets and all its guts were pushed out its backside in gristly tangles of rodent offal.
My wife tried to comfort the girls and they’d finally stopped screaming. They kept saying they never put the hamster in the elevator (that’s what they called it) and he never left his cage.
We didn’t bother to chastise them for lying at that point - they were obviously too upset. My mind was elsewhere, though. I was trying to figure out what the hell happened to that hamster.
It was inside the compartment, so it couldn’t have gotten crushed underneath when it was dropped. It almost looked like the poor thing got put in a vice and squeezed to death.
We let the kids sleep with us that night. My thoughts kept going to that hamster. There had to be a reason for it. I tiptoed over the kids’ sleeping bags and went in their room.
I quietly worked the dumbwaiter up and down. On the third trip down, I felt the rope shudder when I accidentally struck the bottom. I hoped I didn’t wake anyone up.
I carefully pulled it back up. I thought it had gotten caught on something; it was heavier than it should have been.
I gradually got it back to the top without making any more noise and locked the braking handle and opened the door.
The empty eye sockets of my youngest daughter gaped at me as she tumbled out of the dumbwaiter, her entrails sliding out after her.