Monday, October 31, 2011
In the pitch black, the plumber reached around to find any way out. Suddenly, he felt the space growing smaller around him and saw his hand illuminate as it pressed against an egg shaped form of energy that seemed to have enclosed him. The sun was rising over distant mountains and would soon shine on a room unlike anything the plumber had ever seen.
Tuesday, October 11, 2011
The spider power plant depended on a flash of sunlight at dawn to energize the system. If only the light could be blocked.
"But it is impossible to totally block out the sun. Only the moon has such a power," thought the old man.
"The birds!" said both of the kids simultaneously.
"What birds?" asked the plumber.
"Every morning before the sun comes up, hundreds of birds flock on the power lines along the main road."
"They could block the sun, there are so many of them."
No one had seen so many porcupine quills on a snout since the old plumber’s own dog had howled down the road after coming face to arse with one. How the plumber got his nose stuck a hundred times was more of an arse to face incident. He was down in an old basement of a summer cabin and had just finished fixing a broken water pipe when he sensed that something had stirred. A porcupine had scrambled to the top of some shelves which fell back at him with the weaponized furball on top. To the old man who could barely see, smell, or hear, this came as quite a surprise when turned his face upwards. When the prickly critter hit him, all of his senses seemed to be in full bloom again. He hadn’t felt so alive in a while. He wished he was dead.
“Mrs. Cross, your husband is at the vet,” the policeman told the plumber’s wife over the phone.
“Our dog is here with me though,” replied Mrs. Cross, who was hard enough to talk to in person.
“Ma’am, the vet is removing quills from his nose,” he said in a impatiently raised voice.
“That was last month, Chief Black. Are you sure you are feeling alright? I can assure you that our canine companion is here, safe and sound by our woodstove. Farewell,” she said and hung up the phone.
When the old man finally appeared in the kitchen doorway that evening, his wife started to say, “Bud! Where have you b---” when her eyes opened wide and she cried out, “Your nose looks like a giant strawberry, what happened to you?”
“Didn’t the police call you? I got attacked by a wild animal!” Bud exclaimed.
“What? Did a pirahna clamp onto your no-- wait! Chief Black was talking about your nose? And here I was, worrying about his state of mental health all afternoon. Oh dear, I thought porcupines were defensive creatures,” she said as she reached for some calendula to put on his nose.
“They are clumsy creatures. And so am I apparently,” he replied with a cringe as his wife applied the ointment to his sore honker. This was not his first unfortunate encounter with a mammal sercurity system. When a skunk had sprayed him, it was quite a surprise too. Especially since the skunk had been dead for at least a week before that. That is another story though.
That night, Bud wrote a bill with a note to the owner of the house. It read:
Dear Mr. and Mrs. Uva - I will be unable to perform any more plumbing work in your basement until the porcupine issue is resolved. Thanks, Bud
“Mary, will you please drop this in the mail this morning?” Bud asked his wife the next day at breakfast.
Later that week the Uva’s sent a check with a note that said:
The porcupine issue has been resolved.
In the fall, when the plumber returned to close the Uva residence for the winter, he stopped in the doorway of the basement. He closed his eyes and took a deep breath. The smell of porcupine lingered. As he stepped onto the dirt floor, he slowly looked around the basement but hesitated to look up for the drain valves.
"The old vhs recorder always takes a few minutes to warm up, so I am going to leave it in the van during the deluge," the old plumber tells the young security guard who has no clue what vhs means. He goes down through a heavy door into the basement and places a 50 gallon trash can under the end of the pipe, hoping it is a three inch stack. If so, there will only be about four gallons to catch. It is hard to be optimistic when one is about to pop off a clean out plug from a building drain that is blocked up the to the second story.
"At least it is mostly water," he says to himself as he twists the plug out and quickly lifts the barrel up on an angle. As the standing water pressure forces the barrel out one of his hands and temporarily floods the concrete floor, he thinks, "I guess that was a four inch stack."
As the water on the floor disappears down a floor drain he says, "Now let's have a look at the nuisance."
He sends the camera mounted snake way down the pipe and suddenly hits something, making a loud ping sound that reverberates up the pipe. "That was solid." On the small screen of his viewing contraption, he see the shape of spider amongst a great mess of wet paper reflect light off of its shiny, black surface. After a couple of prods, the paper and the foreign object flush away with the remaining water from the pipe. "Must of been light."
The old plumber brings the building manager to the scene telling him that his snake hit something that looked like a spider. The manager replies, "Snakes and spiders. Sounds creepy...and expensive."
"I provide a videotape of the procedure if you would like to see it for yourself."
"Video tape? There isn't equipment ancient enough to play that in this building...or anywhere in the world for that matter," the manager laughs.
"I know you have a strict policy about recording on the premises so I'll leave the tape at the front desk."
"You are too polite. Just take the tape. That is not the sensitive material we are worried about," says the manager who laughs and continues, "Bring your bill to the front desk and they will pay you. Thanks again."
Back in his van, he opens the blank envelope and looks at the check which says, "Plumbing with Spiders" on the "For" line. (Close up on the title. There ends the intro and begins the story.)