It smells like a football stadium urinal in our bathroom. Early yesterday morning, I looked out from my son's bedroom window into the backyard and saw twigs floating in puddles, mud slurping at the big tree's roots.
"Rain last night?" I shouted to my wife.
"I don't think so," she said. "How would I know? I slept next to thunder. "
I looked for a sneer on her face, but she had already turned away. More mystery, then.
I put on my bad shoes and trudged outside. Mud sucked at my feet and grass clamored into the prints left behind. There was a river, a flow of water. Here's where I said my first curse word of the day. Water swelled out of the box where the feed line connected to our house mainline. I slopped over, plunged my hand into the dirty water and cranked the valve to the right. The flow slowed and finally stopped.
Today the wife was going to take the kids to the waterpark. I had been looking forward to writing, to the quiet clatter of the keys. Yes, I cursed again.
The wet-dry vac sumped out the water. On my knees in the mud, I scooped out the black muck with my hands, digging down to the junction. Lower pvc elbow. Split along the top seam. With physical work one starts out wanting to remain clean, unsullied, however - at least for me - frustration soon sets in and that care evaporates. I stomp back into the house, covered in mud, sweat dripping from me.
"I gotta go to town and get parts."
"Stop. Take off your clothes if you're coming in further."
"If anyone needs to poop," I say. "Go down to your grandmother's house and do it there. If you can pee outside, then pee outside. Just don't flush. The water's off."
My wife looked at me as if she'd found my resignation letter secretly typed up, ready to give to work, or that the doctor had just told us our baby girl was going to die. I deduce an earlier sneer. One of those days. She reached down and picked the baby up again, who was wobbling on her legs, chewing my wife's knee. "How long?"
"I don't know. I've never done this before. We'll see."
"Should we call a plumber?"
"It's a couple of PVC pipes. I'll do it."
I spent the whole afternoon laying on rocks and mud, sweat pooling in my ears. My left rib a bar of bruise. My left arm pickled gray and green.
My wife looked at my drooping pants and the dripping mud. She knew. Without saying a word, she went and got the phone book and handed it to me. I called the plumber.
Today I am suffering sore, as my grandfather used to say. The plumber comes tomorrow afternoon.