Friday, April 11, 2014

Story 211: Home Repair

Steven grunted as he finally managed to pull the outer covering open.
"Are you sure you had to rip it open like that?" His wife asked, "Are you going to be able to seal it up when you're done?"
Steven dug through his toolbox for a wrench, wondering why he had twelve flathead screwdrivers and no Phillips. "Janice, honey.  I told you, there's no other way to replace the pump - this thing wasn't made to be fixed at home."
"Well, then... should we call someone?  A professional?  Or at least your brother - you know he's always been the handy one in your family."
Steven held the wrench aloft triumphantly. "Got it!  No, I can figure this out myself.  If we call someone they'll charge me three hundred dollars and then say that they don't carry parts for the older models."  Locating the pump, Steven sighed and put down the wrench.  The replacement part he had purchased had easy-connect valves, but the original didn't - meaning there was nothing to easy-connect to.

Janice looked around the kitchen, at the usual mess that Thanksgiving preparation always generated interspersed with tools and yellowed instruction manuals and plastic packaging from parts.  It was a disaster area.  "We could order out.  Get Chinese food.  We could even have Thanksgiving dinner tomorrow, Grandma won't know the difference anyway.  She'll wake up tomorrow and we'll tell her it's Thursday, and by the time she realizes she's a day off she won't know or care when she got confused."
"No." Steven was digging through a pile of connectors, most of which were the identical copies of the same wrong part. "I can fix this, and we can still have a nice dinner.  Go... reheat the stuffing or something."
Janice resisted the urge to dump a bowl of cranberries over his head and busied herself tidying up.  She managed to get the worst of the mess contained at least, and did an admirable job ignoring the occasional sounds of grunting, dripping, and snapping.

"Okay.  I got it.  The new pump is in, everything is flowing right... and I don't see any leaks.  Thanksgiving is saved!"
Janice put down the pot she was rinsing out and gave an almost entirely non-sarcastic round of applause.  Steven set to work getting everything reassembled, resorting to the use of a mallet to get the outer cover back in place.  When he was done, he stood and admired his work.  Janice put an arm around him and was about to thank him when she saw something on the floor. "Sweet heart, what's that?  I think something fell out."
"It's fine," Steven said. "That's... it's just an extra part.  You always have parts left over."
"I really don't think you're supposed to have bits just laying around."
"Well, I'm not prying the old thing open again.  Here, let's just try it."
He reached down and shook Janice's grandmother, who slowly opened her eyes and looked around.
"Where am I?  Is dinner over?"
"Grandma," Janice said slowly, "you had a little heart failure.  We think it's all fixed.  Do you feel okay?"
There was a troubling pause, and then she nodded.  "Y... yes.  But maybe a little tight in the chest?  And... do you smell potatoes?"

Janice and Steven both looked at the counter directly above where Grandma had been laying.  One... two...
"Steve, weren't there three baked potatoes up there?"
"Oh, damn it."