“Can it wait a second, babe? There’s 5 minutes left in the 3rd period.”
“I suppose,” replied Krista. “It just sounds like the outdoor water tap is on.”
“Why would the outdoor water tap be on?” I asked, somewhat distractedly. The Montréal Canadiens were playing on Hockey Night in Canada and my attention was divided. “I turned the water off from the basement in the fall.”
“But I swear that…” her voice trailed off as she moved further from the door.
Thinking to myself that it would, indeed, be odd if the faucet were on — and thinking that my dearest, while crazy enough to marry me, was not wigged out enough for audio hallucinations — I rose from my seat.
Should the tap be on, it would have meant that I had neglected my task in the autumn and that the pipe had been frozen throughout the winter months, only to start flowing during this recent warm spell.
“Couldn’t be…” I murmured to myself, putting my beer down and praying for a commercial. I didn’t want to miss any of the game.
But wait, I thought… What if I hadn’t turned off the pipe from the basement? If it were true, then the exposed pipe had probably frozen solid. It was possibly stretched to the max and maybe even cracked. Perhaps the outdoor faucet was turned off, but — because I hadn’t turned off the water source from the inside — broken or burst.
The hockey game was suddenly jarred from my attention.
When, exactly, had I put the garden hose away for the year? Probably around the same time I had gotten rid of the jack-o-lantern.
Damn. Sometime after Christmas! Pipes would definitely have frozen by then.
If Krista could hear water outside, then I needed an explanation, an excuse, a quick willingness to rectify the situation. I needed to get to that pipe before she did.
Leaping into my hiking boots, I passed her on the porch and poked my head around the corner.
And everything seemed fine.
“Uh…” I offered.
I couldn’t see any water.
“Er…” I added. I squinted for good measure, but, really, there was nothing to see.
All I could hear was air blowing from the furnace exhaust pipe. No sound of flowing liquid — or at least none that I could tell. And then, suddenly, the distant sound of the TV. My derriere, for the moment, seemed as safe as could be. I could not say the same about the outcome of the game.
“Nope,” I said. “Nothing. It’s all good.”
“Are you sure?” questioned Krista. “I’m pretty sure I hear water pouring.”
“Positive,” I replied. Was that a goal I heard from the television set?
“It just kinda sounds like…” she muttered.
From the sound of her voice, I knew that there was only one way to resolve the situation. Heaving a great sigh, I crept off the icy porch, into the deep snow, towards the dry tap. I am, after all, a good husband. Or at least I try my best to be.
It is important to note a few things here. First, our outdoor faucet is located right beside our furnace exhaust. Second, we don’t tend to chop down our perennial wildflowers in the fall, leaving the seed heads for the birds. Third, the sound of air rushing through dried flower stalks sounds remarkably, to the untrained ear, like water flowing from a tap.
It is also important to note one more thing: Black ice on pine porch board is perhaps the most slippery surface known to humankind.
Trudging through the snow, I was able to assess the situation closely.
“Nope!” I shouted again. “No water!”
Treading back through the knee-deep snow, I called out to Krista, who was already on her way back inside. Some thanks there, I thought.
“It is important to note a few things here…” I said, loudly enough to prevent her from departing. “First, our outdoor faucet is located right beside our furnace exhaust.”
“Right,” she replied as I reached the porch stairs. She was heading indoors.
“Second,” I continued. “GAAAAAHHHHH!”
It was definitely not how I had planned on ending the sentence.
I heard her response, but from a strange angle.
An upside down angle. And a backwards one.
“Gah?” she said.
And that was when I slammed down to earth.
After taking a pretty sweet little ride.
I had just completed what, in slopestyle snowboard parlance, is commonly referred to as a “double cork.” Or at least I think I did. I didn’t count the rotations.
Or stick the landing.
When Krista stuck her head out the door to investigate the commotion, she found me laying in a heap in the driveway. My head was facing the same direction that I had come from — except it was now somehow pinned under an arm and two legs.
One of my boots was missing.
Interestingly, I was seeing stars. None of them, however, were of the NHL variety.
“Oh, goodness,” said Krista. “That looks painful.”
As sensation started creeping back into my body, I realized that — in this particular instance — she was right.
Not about the water. No indeed. Only about the pain.
Yes, the pain.
Pain welled up in my shin. In my back. In my shoulder. And in my hip.
Actually, pain started making itself known throughout most of my body.
Tracking my trajectory, it seemed that I had bounced off a few stairs before finally coming to rest on ice-covered flagstone. Each surface had left its mark.
“It’s OK,” I croaked. “It’s only my… um… everything.”
She came to the edge of the porch and looked down at my broken body.
“You really didn’t have to do that you know,” she cooed.
I gazed at her confusedly.
“Huh?” I asked.
“I was just going to go downstairs and check it from inside.”
And from the back room I heard the sound of a horn blaring from the television set.
The game was over.
I have a feeling I know who lost.