It's not about the house.

Tuesday, March 25, 2008

Everything, But …

The day Johnny left, about two hours before drop-dead go-time, he suddenly interrupted his last-minute packing with a look of panic on his face and made a mad scramble for the cellar stairs. A minute later he came back up, lugging a half-full five-gallon bucket.

“I forgot to tell you,” he said. “The kitchen sink is leaking.”

Wha wha wha WHA?

The brand-new kitchen sink? The okay-not-exactly-brand-new kitchen sink, but the kitchen sink we just put in two years ago? The kitchen sink that we are only now lollygagging through the process of completing the rest of the room around? Correction: not the sink that we put in, but the sink we paid somebody to put in? Sort of? No money actually changed hands regarding it, but still: wasn’t this supposed to not be the type of shoddy work we usually bumble through ourselves? Wasn’t this supposed to be actual, genuine, know-what-you’re doing, licensed mastery?

That kitchen sink?

“Uh-huh,” he said. “Well, not the sink itself, but the drainpipe in the basement.”

Oh, well, that’s a relief. At least it’s not affecting the new cabinets, or rotting – like the old one – through the floor.

“So, while I’m away, make sure to keep an eye on this bucket down there, and blah-de-blah-blah-blah…” I know he said some more words after that, but all I heard was “one more AssVac disaster,” then the blood rushing in my ears made everything go all white-noise and drowned him out completely.

My own personal Defense Against the Dark Arts: selective deafness. Amazing, these self-preservation superpowers that kick in without our even being aware that we possess them, don’t you think?

He left, you may recall, on a Sunday. That Thursday, four days later, I was talking to a friend on the telephone when she said something that called to mind the image of Johnny lugging that heavy bucket up the stairs. So I told her the funny, funny story of our leaky kitchen sink, we both had a good laugh over the AssVac’s brilliant mind for base misfortune, and then, while she and I moved on to shoes and ships and ceiling wax, I jotted down a quick reminder to myself:

Check bucket.

Fortunately, it turns out you don’t have to empty the bucket every day. Fortunately, it turns out that the full five-gallon bucket is just too freaking heavy to be lugging up those (also f-o) basement stairs. And fortunately, I did not wait until after work as I told myself I’d do.

Yikes. And, may I just say, pee-freakin’-yew.

I think Johnny must have dumped some bleach in there. He’s a big believer in the bleach, my Johnny is. Because it had a sort of cloudy yellow tinge and a distinctive acrid note – but the rest of the bouquet was decidedly stuff-that-went-down-the-drain-a-week-ago. Skanky, smelly, cloudy, chunky, funky, fetid — bleah! I dumped half of it from the full bucket into that empty one conveniently standing by, lugged the half-bucket up the stairs, then decided I’d had enough of that and went to work.

When Johnny called that night, I asked him.

“About that bucket in the basement,” I said. “Is there anything else I ought to know?”

You like how I did that? He won’t remember what he already told me, he never does, so he’ll start at the beginning and tell me the whole thing again, as usual. Normally I find this trait annoying, but this time I was glad. It meant I didn’t have to admit I wasn’t listening the first time, didn’t have to admit that I’d done nothing up till now.

“You know what?” he said. “Why don’t you just call Andy? He’ll come by and put some cement on it for you.”

Dammit, Johnny, that is not what you told me the first time. At least, I don’t know. I don’t think it was.

Andy. God bless him. Whenever Johnny goes away, Andy always keeps an eye on me in his absence. He calls every couple days, we talk about going out for breakfast, but somehow we never do. This sort of chaperoning is not something I would have thought to ask for – I Am Woman, after all, and I did live alone for years before teaming up with Johnny – but I like it. It’s very old-fashioned and chivalrous, and though my Seven-Sisters soul feels as though she ought to bristle at the very notion that a bicycle might come in handy for a fish once in a while, she just can’t seem to get her hackles up.

But still.

I hated to bother him for something as small as this. It bothers me enough that Johnny’s first response in these situations is to call a friend rather than try to piece it out himself; I certainly didn’t want to turn into the Friend-Caller just because he wasn’t home. If Johnny’s only solution to the problem was to get Andy to fix it, then I could empty the bucket until Johnny came home, at which point he could make that call himself.

And so that was my plan. Until.

Sunday night, as I was washing dishes, I heard water running somewhere after I had shut it off. I checked faucets and toilets – even checked under the fridge, because sometimes it drains weird and fools us like that (and yes, we need a new fridge; and no, we won't be getting one for a while – but that's a story for another time). I found nothing. But by that time the noise had stopped. So I went back to the task at hand.

Wash a few dishes. Shut the water off. And sure enough: there was that noise again.

Oh crap, the bucket! For all my trans-Atlantic, making-sure-I-know-what-I-should-be-doing talk, I had not been in the basement since that first time on Thursday. The bucket must have overflowed and is now running all over the basement floor! I grabbed the spare that I’d brought up half-full the other day, and tore down the cellar stairs to have a look.

In my haste, I forgot the camera, but the good news is that the bucket was not, in fact, spilling all over the basement floor. The bad news is that the leak had graduated from a steady drip into a sort of madhouse shower.

I decided that the best plan, certainly, was to stop washing dishes right away and put myself straight to bed.

Hm. This story’s turning out to be longer than I intended it to be, so I suppose I’ll tell you how it all turned out tomorrow.


su said...

hmmmm this continued tomorrow is annoying!

LadyCiani said...

You're practicing writing chapters, aren't you?

You start a story, leave us hanging, and then laugh evilly, I know it!

(Good job on the cliff-hanger, by the way) said...

gad dammit. another freakin' hanger.

that water looks p-nasty.

Stephanie said...

I'm a big fan of the "deal with it in the morning" method of coping, but did you dream of swamp things and creatures from the black lagoon?