Saturday, May 8, 2010

Truth is Stranger than Fiction, or Ice, Ice, Baby

My wife has told me on a number of occasions that I should consider putting aside my YA fiction for a while and write a book about life as a step-parent.  She usually makes this suggestion when I've walked into the house, head wagging side-to-side in utter dismay, disgust, confusion...(fill-in-the-blank to describe today's facial expression).  This head shaking is usually followed by a punctuated sigh. 

I'm a loud "sigher." Even the poodles, napping prone on the living room floor will lift their heads when I sigh.  It's kind of like the ominous clouds in the distance just before the first crack of thunder, or the sound of the phone chirping to life at 3AM.  You know what follows is not going to be good, and my wife, bless her heart, braces herself to play referee between my rants on the latest catastrophe and her explaining away the actions of our two older boys.  It's not always bad, mind you, just a bit of a mystery to me.

My tools, for instance, disappear on a regular basis.  I've filed many Missing Tool Reports at Sears.  You have to wait the required 72 hours, but there are forms you can fill out in the hopes that your tools will be recovered.  I'm on a first name basis with many of the Investigative Officers at Craftsman Headquarters, Missing Tools Division. All of my investigations are still ongoing, but I remain hopeful.  Sometimes, when I'm outside walking around the property or mowing the lawn, I'll come across a stray socket or screwdriver, usually rusted and worn away by the elements.  Cast offs left to fend for themselves, separated from their tool box or comfortable hook in the garage...they died horrible deaths, abandoned and alone.  I question the two older boys.  But they have no knowledge of how these tools could have ended up where they did.

Then there's the rake homicide that occurred yesterday, some time between 10:15 AM and 2:45 PM (according to the attending coroner).  The rake was found three feet away from the overturned wheel barrow.  Photos of the crime scene reveal extreme blunt trauma to the rake as illustrated by the eight inch crack across the plastic portion above the rake's tines.  In addition, the handle was completely severed in two.  Questioning of stepson number two, reported to be in the area during the estimated time of death, revealed no conclusive evidence of foul play.

 "It just broke," he said. 
"Just broke?" I repeated, holding the pieces in my hand.
The homicide remains under investigation.

And finally, this brings us to the older boy.  He arrived for a visit with his new acquisition, a 1995 Ford Mustang.   He pulled into the driveway, jumped out of the car and popped the hood.  Still confused and rattled about the death of my rake, I hardly noticed as he walked by me toward the house muttering that he needed to get ice.  I went into the carriage shed to find my shovel so that I could bury the rake.  When I re-emerged into the light, the older boy was coming from the house, cradling three large ice packs.  My mouth dropped and I stood in a stupor as I watched him placing the ice on top of the car's engine (see picture below).

"What?" he asked me. 
I shook my head. 
"No, there's a reason I'm doing this, Pop." 
"I need to get a picture of this."
"For the blog.  I need evidence or no one will believe me."
"No, wait, there's an explanation.  See, the O2 sensor that controls the mixture--"
But his words trailed off...
After I buried the rake, I returned to take another picture, only to find the ice packs replaced with a Zip Lock bag of cubes.

I snapped the picture.

A few minutes later, Sears called.  Officer Marnier had a report of a discarded 3/8 socket wrench a jogger discovered off Route 12 in Plainfield.  The wrench was badly decomposed. He needed me to come down for a positive identification.

I sighed, loudly, clicked off the phone and went to get a drink.

We were out of ice.