“Do you hear that?” Phoebe asked me after we came through the front door.
“I don’t hear anything!” I answered rather grumpily. After several days of losing sleep and fighting supernatural entities, I really didn’t care what was happening in the house anymore! If Miriam and Blaise were doing something strange or if another appliance broke, I didn’t care! All I wanted to do was lay down somewhere and let my misery run its course! I wouldn’t have even stuck around to listen to Phoebe’s observance if I didn’t fear that yet another one of Damon’s ghostly attacks might be imminent! If I had to deal with that nuisance for a third time that day, I legitimately believed that I would have lost my mind!
Phoebe pleasantly reported, “Exactly! There’s no noise in here whatsoever! I think we have the house to ourselves!”
I dashed to the window to confirm this theory, and when I didn’t see that hideous, old truck haunting my view, I nearly had an aneurysm! “We are alone! You know what that means?” The more practical thing to have done would have been to work on destroying the key without any prying eyes to question our actions so we could end this nightmare, but Phoebe and I hadn’t had any privacy in ages… Okay, so it was only, like, a few days, but considering that we were used to being intimate frequently, that felt like forever to us! I gazed at her with desire, and my heart began to beat rapidly as I anticipated this coveted moment…
…Uh, yeah… Both of us clocked out as soon as our heads hit the sheets! Oh well! We both needed the rest, and at long last, we got the opportunity to catch up some much-needed sleep! It was a blissful ten minutes… We had barely gotten to snooze when, all of a sudden, we heard a small explosion in the kitchen! “You’ve gotta be kidding!” I bellowed. “Why doesn’t the universe want me to sleep?”
“Um, shouldn’t we check to see what happened?” Phoebe suggested.
“Yeah, I just…” I rubbed my eyes and mentally prepared myself for what drudgery awaited us.
Before we got close to where the blast took place, we could feel moisture beneath our feet! Phoebe groaned, “Please let this be water!”
I reacted quizzically, “What else would it be?” I recalled that we had both a petulant phantom and a spiteful witch who might possibly procure several sinister substances, and while Damon mainly seemed to strike at Rosemary King and Roxy had yet to produce a spell, it was definitely viable for either of them to break their pattern! “Never mind, I don’t wanna know! It’s gonna be a natural occurrence! Yup, nothing else spooky is happening today…!”
Despite the confidence that I projected, I still sort of expected to walk in and behold an unearthly spectacle as the cause of the disruption! It was unexpectedly astonishing to see a mere broken pipe! I breathed a sigh of relief, but then I realized I shouldn’t have been celebrating our kitchen sink gushing like a geyser! Actually, this development may not have been the alleviation that I once thought it was… “How does a pipe burst in warm, spring weather?”
“You don’t think it could have been…?” Phoebe trailed off as if she didn’t want to complete that sentence and make the impression we got a reality. Neither of us wanted to entertain the possibility, but neither of us had the chance to…
“My key doesn’t fit!” Blaise barked from the front porch. “What did you do? Change the locks? You trying to kick me out of-?”
Miriam told him, “Your key doesn’t fit ‘cause this isn’t our old commune! And I’m pretty sure that door is unlocked…”
The two of them lumbered into the mudroom, and it was obvious that Blaise was under the influence of something! As Miriam attempted to drag him in, Blaise noticed the busted pipe and remarked, “Hey! That’s not supposed to do that!”
“Yeah, thanks genius!” I muttered as I took out my cellphone to make a call.
“Connor, if you’re about to tell me some crap that Damon did, I swear, I-!” Ellie grouched.
I assured her, “No, nothing too weird happened this time!”
As Miriam lugged an unusually bubbly Blaise down the hall, Blaise delightfully observed, “Oh look! I ‘m wearing shoes!”
“I promise that didn’t come from a demon or anything!” I affirmed. “Can I talk to Victor? We have a slight plumbing problem…”
“You said this was slight!” a husky, older man with white hair and russet skin commented when he espied the damage.
I let him know, “With everything I’ve had to deal with lately, this is nothing!” Howling sounded from our guest bedroom, so I added, “Also that!”
Victor inquired, “Do you guys have a dog?”
“That depends on how you define dog,” Phoebe replied with a grimace.
“Uh-huh… Well, just so you know, I’m gonna have to charge you for this fix.” Clearly, Victor didn’t want to decipher Phoebe’s enigmatic statement, which was fine with us! Neither Phoebe nor I knew how, or wanted to explain, Blaise! I could kind of understand why Phoebe hadn’t disclosed the details of her stepdad’s story initially! Heck, it took me a few chapters to even scratch the surface!
Victor’s old, stubby legs took him a minute to bend down, but once he had done so, he reached under the sink and fiddled with something underneath the sink. A few seconds later, the fountain effect disappeared! “Wow! That was fast!” Phoebe amazedly expressed.
Blaise shouted, “Ugh! I am so tired of you saying that!”
Miriam hollered, “I didn’t say it! For once!”
Phoebe shuddered at the image that this produced, and Victor ignored that dialogue as he informed us, “It’s not fixed. I just used the shut off valve to stop the flow.”
“So, how do you fix it?” I asked him.
“I can’t say ‘til I see what the problem is,” Victor answered as he dug through his toolbox.
He pulled out a large, hose-like device, and as he set it up by the drain, I remarked, “That looks like a colonoscope!”
Victor filled me in, “It’s the same idea- going up some pipes to see if there’s any obstruction or damage!”
As he snaked the gadget down the sink, I could see Phoebe’s eyes brim with apprehension. Neither of us had to communicate our concerns out loud- we both dreaded what he might find in there! We still couldn’t rule out the paranormal factor, and we were terrified that he would discover our association with that realm! His wife accepted this as reality (eventually!), but I figured not everyone would have been so kind! If he judged us for our involvement with the Netherworld, he probably wouldn’t have wanted to associate with us anymore, which would have saddened me since he was a nice guy and a lot of help, but more importantly, we had tremendous anxiety that he would have convinced Ellie to not hang around us anymore! She was instrumental in our mission, so her loss would have been devastating! Phoebe and I held each other in support as he explored further and further, and we inwardly prayed that he would find something run-of-the-mill!
“Oh, there’s the cause of the issue!” Victor announced. Phoebe and I braced ourselves for the worst… “You’ve got tree roots growing into your system!”
“That’s it?” Phoebe reacted incredulously.
Victor questioningly regarded her, “What do you mean that’s it? That’s gonna be a huge hassle!”
I petitioned him, “Does that mean it won’t be an easy fix?” Considering everything else I had to contend with, I hadn’t counted on dealing with a major repair, especially one that may have forced us to sleep in a motel! Sharing a house with Miriam and Blaise was aggravating enough, so if we had to share a room with them too, I felt positive I would go ballistic!
Right when I was contemplating negotiating for Blaise and Miriam to sleep in their truck again, Victor conveyed to us, “I can trim the roots out, but if you don’t get rid of the tree that did it, it’ll happen again! You’re gonna have to hire an arborist!”
“Great!” I mumbled as he employed another machine to oust the meddlesome roots. That sounded expensive, and I couldn’t fathom when we could spare a few hours to care of that venture! I was relieved that stressful specter or his airheaded sidekick hadn’t done anything otherworldly, but I got no joy from this outcome either!
“What do you mean I can’t get my food?” Blaise yelled. “I’m hungry! What, you want me to starve to death?”
Miriam retorted, “Would you?”
Blaise marched down the hallway and boldly declared, “I am a man, and I’ll eat when I damn please!” He saw the three of us occupying the small space that made up the kitchen, and he seemed to comprehend why Miriam had given him the message that she had. A decent person would have apologized, but Blaise could never have fit into that category! He scratched his head and queried, “Is the sink not working?”
“Seriously?” I shrieked. “You don’t remember walking into an explosion of water? What are you on?”
“I engaged in a spiritual ritual to give me guidance!” He held his arms out as though he was prepared to fly.
That reply didn’t suffice- it actually perplexed me further! “What is that supposed to mean?” I mulled it over for a second and ameliorated my sentence prior to him getting an opening to elaborate, “Forget it! Keep it to yourself!”
Victor abruptly proclaimed, “It’s over!”
“He is correct! I am almost out of it now!” Blaise grinned broadly.
“That was not what I was talking about, straw man!” Victor corrected him. “I got your roots out! Now, for that payment…”
Phoebe reached for her purse. “How much do we owe you?”
Victor refused her offer, “No, no, no! Put your wallet away! You gotta pay the friends’ price- one beer!”
We both chortled at this conclusion, and I very willingly went into the refrigerator to oblige! When I investigated the contents of our fridge, I frowned. “Shoot! It appears that we drank every drop of liquor we owned last night! Can I give you something to eat instead? We have some leftover pizza, Chinese food, or some steak…”
“I’ll take a steak,” Victor accepted. I pulled out the plate with the four steaks we had made over the weekend so we could reheat it at dinnertime during our busy work week, and as Phoebe held out a resealable bag, I hesitated slightly. If we went down to three, then one of us would be missing out, which would have most likely started another bothersome fight…
“Give one to Ellie too,” Phoebe propositioned. I appreciated her brilliance at this juncture! We could halve the remaining ones and everyone would be happy! Well, not Miriam, she always seemed so miserable! Plus, Phoebe and I weren’t feeling very spectacular lately either. So, basically, it would temporarily make Blaise slightly less insufferable! As I put the second one in the bag…
I hollered, “Dammit!” I missed my target somehow, and the steak fell onto the floor! Typically, I wouldn’t have fretted over some spilled food, but I was already in a foul mood, so every predicament that crossed my path vexed me more than under ordinary circumstances! Additionally, our meager salaries didn’t allow us to treat ourselves to lavish meals very often, so it disappointed me when something went to waste!
Victor reassured me, “That’s alright! I only need one! Well, I’m heading out! Let me know if you see any other faulty plumbing!”
“You’re a plumber?” Miriam had apparently come out of the guest bedroom and stared at our visitor curiously. “Can you unclog the toilet too?”
“No!” Phoebe and I yelled in unison. Victor glimpsed at us peculiarly, so I tried to smooth out our odd outburst, “You’ve done enough for us! You should go home and rest!”
Victor picked up his toolbox and stated, “Nah, it’s fine. I can take a look real quick. Which bathroom is it?”
I nervously croaked out, “The one at the end of the hall.” I was completely convinced that Babelsama would pipe up and ruin everything! What were we going to do? How could we explain away the talking portrait or anything he might say to him? Phoebe and I readied ourselves for a tumultuous upset… until…
“Nope!” Victor had barely set foot into that room before he turned around and left. “I ain’t going in there! There’s some weird energy coming from that place! Before you hire an arborist, hire a priest!”
“Thanks, Victor!” I chirped as he exited out abode. He imparted a friendly wave to us as he stepped out onto the porch and aimed to amble to his vehicle.
As Phoebe and I exhaled and released our tension, I permitted myself to get optimistic that perhaps this rotten day could still get salvaged after all! Then, when we turned around, we saw Blaise pick up that steak off of the floor and commence to munching on it merrily! When he caught sight of our disgusted faces, he probed, “I’m sorry! Were y’all gonna eat this?” I sighed and decided to simply let it go. Blaise drove me to my wit’s end, but something he did gave me inspiration on how we might solve our dilemma with the key…