Snowing Deep Sleep
Saturday morning arrived with an extra fierce edge on the wind’s howling as five feet of packing snow continued falling in record time. Deep in the down warmth under Lily’s quilt in the windowless bedroom, Sarge slept harder and longer than he had in years. He remained peacefully oblivious even when, a little after two pm, Lily leaned down over him to put an ear to his chest then breathed a sigh of relief when she found his slow steady heartbeat. Reassured that he hadn’t died in his nearly motionless sleep, she carefully closed the bedroom door then returned to the main room to check Miguel’s progress with his fraction problems.
Sarge was on the very verge of waking on his own when muffled excited voices combined with something heavy falling somewhere beyond the bedroom door nudged him into a state of consciousness that prompted him to pull on his jeans, thermal top and find the bathroom. While he was putting the toothbrush through its paces the sound of running feet got him to open the bathroom door out of curiosity. Catching only sudden silence, he quickly rinsed the brush then went to investigate whatever was going on in the other room.
In what he now considered the book room he found a large metal toolbox open in the entrance keeping the door open. “Lily?” Getting no response from any other room, Sarge stepped over the toolbox and into the hallway. Immediately he saw a group of children at the end of the hall. They were gathered at the open door to what he was soon to discover was the basement. “What’s happening, guys?”
The children turned as a whole at the sound of his voice. A little girl pointed downwards and spoke so fast in Spanish that the only word Sarge recognized was the one for water. The group parted to let him through when he moved to the doorway to try to catch the sounds now coming from the basement. Suddenly a flood of cursing in English, Spanish, and a language he’d never heard before, but the tone of which conveyed clearly the nature of its meaning, erupted along with metal striking metal and splashing water. Seeing that there was light down below, Sarge descended the stairs to find out what was going on. Midway down the steps he caught sight of Lily and another much smaller woman struggling with a large wrench and a pipe joint spouting water. Seeing that their main problem at the moment was only a lack of strength, he wordlessly reached between the two women, wrapped one hand around the wrench handle above their hands and twisted the joint seal back into place. With the water stopped, Lily, the woman she breathlessly introduced as Rosa and her daughter Julianna swore in relief and patted him appreciatively on the shoulders and back.
His attention now fully engaged in the situation at hand and not at all satisfied that the problem was entirely under control, Sarge asked Julianna, still holding the primary largest flashlight to point it upwards. Understanding what he wanted to see, Lily and Rosa added their lights to the piping overhead. Sarge walked several feet further into the basement’s darker depths before taking Lily’s flashlight and scanning the wooden foundation joists between the pipes until he found one that had begun splitting apart and had gradually put enough pressure on the nearest pipe to push it out of its original position. “Lily, I’m gonna need that wrench and a lot of electrical or duct tape.”
“Okay.” Lily went to the stairs and called out to the children above. While she waited, Sarge searched the basement for something to use as a wedge. Delighted to find an assortment of metal and wooden objects with potential he went through them until he found what would serve his purpose. When Lily brought him a roll of each tape he positioned her, Julianna and Rosa so that their combined flashlights would allow him to see well enough to work on the split joist. Without speaking unless he needed a light moved, he went to work with a focused intensity such that fifteen minutes later he’d managed to deal with the split joist and its most important consequences. Having done all he could for the time being, he followed the flashlight wielding trio back to stairs. Walking a little behind Lily, he said, “I think the foundation is settling and moving things due to all the snow and ice. That should hold things until it can be fixed properly but there probably will be more problems. Better check it regularly.”
“We do. That’s how Rosa discovered the leak today,” said Lily as they walked to the stairs.
“Has the owner been checking it?”Sarge looked back over his shoulder at the dark basement.
“Rosa is the owner. She bought the building dirt cheap for five hundred dollars at an auction a couple of years ago. Her brother Ricardo has gradually been fixing things in his free time.” Lily watched Rosa and her oldest daughter go up the stairs ahead of herself and Sarge. “It may not look like it, but they’ve done a lot of work on the place. You should have seen it when Rosa got it. The first thing we did was evict the rats. It took a ton of poison.”
In the hallway, Rosa thanked Sarge several times in English and Spanish then herded the curious group of children up the stairs to the second floor. When he returned to Lily’s apartment the window shades were open revealing that snow was still falling in earnest. Unending wind occasionally rattled one of the upper panes and he realized that the current weather conditions were much worse than last night. Lily came to stand next to him. “Heard on the radio earlier that the entire west side of Falls and most of M—is without electricity. It’s dangersouly nasty out there. But no worries here if the city power lines go down there’s a generator for the house essentials. Do you want to grab a shower before having something to eat?”
Sarge glanced at his now very dirty hands and bare feet from his efforts in the basement. “Looks like the thing to do. What time is it?”
Lily looked at her pocket watch lying on the table. “Nearly four thirty.” She watched him walk over and look down at the watch then swear softly in disbelief. “Been a while since you had some serious deep sleep?”
“Apparently.” All he could do was look at her and shrug while wondering if he’d warded off becoming ill by sleeping hard at the very onset of symptoms as he generally did. He gazed out the windows again as it dawned on him that he might not be able to make the polite exit an unexpected overnight guest ought in order to avoid overstaying his welcome. “You heard on the radio that the west side of Falls was without power?”
“That’s what I heard. And most of M–. There should be weather updates starting at quarter to the hour. Gives you time to do the Mr. Clean thing. I’ll turn the radio back on now in case there’s any news.”
Sarge nodded. “I’ll be quick.”
“What are you worried about? If you had a hot date planned for tonight I seriously doubt it’s gonna happen unless it involves snow cones and shovels.”
“Au contree, Lily.” Catching the humor in her tone Sarge decided to keep it in play. He looked her up and down and grinned.”It’s already happening. Hey, want to share the shower? You could use a little cleaning up yourself after all that pipe wrench action.”
She shook her head but laughed to show she hadn’t taken him seriously. “We don’t know each other well enough for that, Sarge. Playing wrench the pipes in the basement is one thing. Playing barking seal games in the shower, is quite another, Mister Plumber.”
“Barking seals? Now that’s a new one,” said Sarge as he back walked towards the bathroom.
“Actually it’s really old. Buttttt we’re not going there today for sure.” Lily watched him turn around shaking his head as he entered the bathroom before turning her little transistor radio on. Looking out the windows she read the nature of the wind whipping up the top layers of snow. It was already very clear to Lily that the man, who’d just bare handed wrangled with the split wooden joist in the basement, wasn’t going to be able to get very far from her apartment or Rosa’s house much less back to the freight district where he lived in the immediate future. First, she wondered what it would take for him to realize he was stuck here in the Flats until weather conditions allowed any sort of travel again. Then she wondered not only about his ability to adapt to the circumstances, but also her own. It had been a very long time since she’d shared living space with anyone. It was one thing to keep an open door policy in regard to most people she knew when they needed a place to crash-land for a night and quite another to close that door at night with another person behind it knowing they were basically stuck with each other for an indeterminate amount of time. Yet last night had felt right with him here, oddly enough she’d even been comfortable sharing her down quilt. The only cause for concern he’d given her so far was his failure to awaken until late afternoon and the deadly stillness of his sleep. She wondered where he’d gone during that long period of alter consciousness. Her intuition whispered it was important both to him and her without providing any clues as to why. Eyes focusing on the snow beyond the windows, Lily pondered the unexpected consequences of her decision to invite Sarge into her private domain until her 4:30 appointment.
Breakfast Special, eleventh helping, “Connecting” —>> https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/07/10/breakfast-special-eleventh-helping-connecting/
Video note: Snowflakes falling in slow motion
Uploaded on Dec 21, 2010 by Chris Kemila
Extremely large snowflakes snow flakes falling at 30% speed, filmed at 60 fps with Canon Rebel T2i EOS 550d