Thursday, August 18, 2005


In Which We Are On the Fence...

It was one of those quaint stone walls, marking the edge of an old pasture, long since grown to forest. Although easily over 200 years old, the stone structure still maintained its distinct fence-like shape.

At least it did until I smacked into it with the truck.

In my panic, my foot never left the gas pedal, so we didn't just hit the wall, we went straight up it.

There was an almighty lurch beneath us and I could feel stones shifting under the cab. For a brief but memorable second, the nose of the truck pointed up towards the sky. It was a brilliant blue, cloudless and beautiful. And then there was a sort of sharp shift downwards, much like the sensation one experiences during the here-comes-my-lunch portion of a roller-coaster run. We crested the wall and found ourselves pointing down into the edge of the forest that began behind the stone barrier. I finally let up on the gas and with a few hiccupping gasps, the truck stalled.

We sat there and had a tender moment, my brother and me, suspended in the downward pointing position, looking into the sylvan glade that marked the start of the forest. We were both very quiet, breathing through our noses, mouths clamped shut for fear of what might come out if we opened them.

At length, my brother said, "Oh fuck. Are you okay?"

"Yeah. You?"

"Yeah. Can you get out on your side?"

I looked out the open window. Just below me was a little pile of rust and rubble. I tentatively pushed the door open and saw, with some scraping, I could get out. But as I scissored the door open and closed, I couldn't help but notice that the truck was somehow quivering slightly with every movement, in exactly the way a truck should not quiver when it's sitting on a pile of stones.

"Why are we bouncing?" I asked.

My brother looked out his window and said, in a calm, even voice that for him was a sure sign of shock, "That's because the rear wheel is on the edge of a guide wire for that phone pole."

And that's when I saw the pole in question, just a few feet away from the truck. And maybe it was just my angle of view, but it seemed to me that it was leaning kind of in our direction.

Gingerly, we got out on my side. Our exit was accompanied by a subtle springing noise, not unlike a screen door being opened, and the tension on the guide wire caused the truck to raise up slightly on the right side.

We surveyed the damage. There were from some deep tire marks in the shoulder and several rust-marked stones scattered about and a yellow road sign under the right front wheel and a portion of high-tension guide wire stuck under the right rear wheel of the truck, which was pointing at an almost 90 degree angle down on the wrong side of the stone fence.

"We might be okay," I said, perhaps a tad optimistically. "Maybe we can back it out."

It is a testament to my brother's restraint that he didn't pound me into a greasy spot there on the soft shoulder. Although I think it's fair to say he was at that point more worried about mom pounding him into a greasy spot for allowing me to drive in the first place (I, of course, held myself completely blameless).

We stood there for what seemed like a long time, listening to the old engine of that truck tick away in the heat of that late summer day. For want of anything better to do, we began casually rolling over any stones that had obvious rusty scrape marks on them and wondering in the most general way What The Hell We Were Going To Do Now.

Eventually, we realized we couldn't just leave the truck sitting up there, its ass end fully visible from the road. It was embarrassing in a way not easily explained, but I content myself with the knowledge, gentle reader, that if you can recall the stupidest thing you've ever done in your life, you'll immediately appreciate the sense of embarrassment we now felt. My brother finally decided that he would get in and gun it and see if he could just get it off the stone fence (which was really resembling a stone pile at this point) and down into the forest. Then what? We didn't know. Our plan could best be described as a Kitty Litter Contingency: just cover up your crap so no one else will see it.

As my brother climbed into the cab, we heard the roaring of a vehicle coming down the county lane. Hardly anyone ever drove on this road at this time of year, but sure enough, here was someone now. With our luck, it would be my mom, coming to look for us in the Jimmy.

But no. Coming up to The Corner and lurching to a surprised stop was a little man in a red Jeep who I recognized.

He pulled up to us and hopped out. He was a rotund little fellow with a wispy red beard and a matted clot of black hair. He could have been one of Santa's elves, if he'd had the benefit of a red suit. And a bath.

"By jeeziz I knows you, don't I?" he said to me in a thick New England accent.

It was Mr. Bradley, one of my uncle's customers on the rubbish route. When we finally placed each other, he shook my hand with vigor, then made a contemplative smacking noise with his lips as he surveyed the tableau before him.

"Y'know fellas, I do b'lieve you missed your turn!" he said, then laughed and laughed at his own wit. They were oddly high-pitched laughs, the kind of laughs you would spell "Hee Hee."

Then he stopped, and decided that wasn't quite funny enough. "Or was you mebbe trying to jump the fence but didn't quite make it? Hee hee hee!"

I nodded and laughed like a madman myself, deciding to do whatever it took to get this guy to help us. "Yessir, you caught us, I guess," I said, trying to be both simpering and off-handed at the same time. "Don't suppose you've got a chain on you, maybe you could pull us back so we could try again?"

He thought this was even funnier than his remarks and punched me in the arm, repeating it over and over.

"Try it again! (punch) Ain't you a caution! (punch) Try it again! (punchpunch) "Yessir, I'll memba that! Heehee! (punchpunchpunch)"

Mr. Bradley clambered up the pile of stone to "survey the sitchyation." The big concern would be whether we could pull the truck back off the wall without putting any more tension on the guide wire and pulling the pole down. Eventually, Mr. Bradley decided that if we jacked up the rear tire a little bit and piled a shitload of stones around and under it, we might get enough traction to back the truck up without affecting the wire.

Of course, this meant positioning the jack atop a fairly wobbly rock and at an angle not recommended in the instruction manual. "Guess whose job THAT will be, ass-wipe!" my brother growled. I managed it, though, and in about five minutes had the rear of the truck up off the wire. While my brother and I packed stones under the rear tire, Mr. Bradley opened the back of his jeep and brought out a length of chain that looked even rustier than the truck, if that was possible. He looped the chain around the exposed undercarriage of the truck, then locked both ends of the chain to the bumper of his Jeep by means of a padlock. My brother got in the cab and tried to start up the truck. Naturally, the engine wouldn't turn over. He began swearing a blue streak.

Mr. Bradley looked up at my brother then at me. "Ol' fella's a bit high-strung, ent he?" he said, leaning in to me in conspiratorial way. "Dunno what he's all het up for. That's what he gets for trying to drive his truck straight up a goddamn stone fence. Heehee!"

This man's energy and good humor were infectious and I felt it would have been rude to correct him at that point, so I simply smiled and answered brightly, "I'll say! I don't know what he was thinking." Meanwhile, my brother wished horrible death upon me.

"Put her in neutral!" Mr. Bradley called up. My brother gaped at us, then did what he was told.

Mr. Bradley hopped in the Jeep and gunned it. I stood a few feet away and watched the chain draw taut. The truck began to move and as it did, I felt a great weight slowly lift off my chest. Our luck was changing.

That very thought was hanging in a bubble in the air over my head when there was sudden metallic "Pow!" as the chain broke under tension.

I saw a sort of rusty blur and the next thing I knew, I was on the ground...

Between you and Shane this week I've been in cliffhanger hell! That's okay, at least the stories are worth it.
You speak the truth, Michelle, but look at us...back for more! :)

Keep'em coming, MM!

Major head injury? That would explain a lot....
OH OH OH! Chain whips can be NASTY. Clearly, you didn't die, but MAN!

*tenterhooks* Can you see them???
p.s. Your writing is more addictive than crack.
You neglected to mention this one on your head trauma list....or did you?

Perhaps this one falls into the "Pissing my brother off and it's totally his fault category".

I can't wait to hear how the two of you explain this one to Mom!
Its a miracle you survived for so long in this world and married HLF ... :)

With the kind of accidents that you go through, insurance agencies would blacklist you as an "Act of GOD" category.
"Kitty litter contingency" is the funniest thing I've read all week.

Curse you, MM, you are funnier than I.

-your friend the giant rabbit.
ohhh COME ON! You are KILLING ME! (but in a good way of course). That mention of kitty litter had me choking on my scrambler... You are the best.
Can't wait for the next installment!!!!!
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