"Where did you smell it?" he asked. And "Do you smell it now?" We were into about the fourth day since the first whiff, and now... just as when you take the car to the mechanic and the noise stops... we couldn't smell a thing.
He climbed into the attic anyway, through that little portal in the garage. He donned and turned on a headlamp, and as his boots disappeared into the darkness, I thought, "Well, his website does say he's a former Army Ranger. He's probably crawled into worse places than this." Eventually he tapped on the front door with "good news, better news and best news." A. There was no corpse in the attic. Not a single body anywhere, and no smell. B. There were no openings through which rodents might invade. And C. He had found an air conduit separated from its vent and reattached it. Looks like we've been air-conditioning the attic all summer.
His theory: the noise had been squirrels on the roof, where there's little space between roof and ceiling, and the smell had come from something small, like a lizard or a snake, which dried up fairly quickly. Thank goodness. And thanks, Ranger Granger. I asked what I owed him for crawling the attic. "Nothing," he said, and handed me his card. "Just speak of me kindly, if you speak of me at all." I thanked him fervently, and here I am, speaking of him kindly and enthusiastically. If you are invaded by squirrels, raccoons, opossums, rats or other vermin short of bears and gators, give him a call.