I was ready for that debate last night. Well prepared. And by prepared, I mean that I had cigarettes to my left and coffee to the right. Let's rumble.
About twenty minutes in, I noticed the first trickling of water on the office floor. It had been raining all day; hard, heavy rain that drowned out the television at some points. It was windy, too. Rattling windows, tree branches scurrying down the street, Halloween decorations flying by. I saw a plastic pumpkin hurl past my house, doing about 50 mph. Didn't stop at the stop sign, either.
So, the water. A little puddle had gathered against the wall to the left of me. Now, I lived in a basement apartment for years, so I'm well versed in the ways of floods and wet vacs. But I wasn't in a basement apartment anymore. This house - the one we bought in May with a gleam in our eye and naive visions of perfection dancing in our heads - doesn't even have a basement. I thought I was done with water on the floor.
I grabbed a towel and wiped up the puddle as I simultaneously tried to figure out where the leak was and answer a question about WMDs. As a gust of wind rattled the ancient windows in the room, I had my own personal weapon of mass destruction to deal with. I threw up a hurried answer to the debate question in the chat room and went back to wiping.
Maybe that was it. Just one little puddle. I could deal with that. I went back to reading a question about terrorism.
Ten minutes, maybe less, later, I eyed another puddle, this time at the corner of the room. I moved the towel over, cursed the rain, cursed the people who inspected this house before we bought it and keyed in a response to the question.
I've complained before about the previous homeowner. The guy was literally and certifiably insane and that fact is quite evident in the mess of DIY repair work he left behind. Take this office, for example. When we bought the house, this was a sun room. Or, as we New Yorkers call it, a Florida room. Basically, the owner poured some cement on the ground next to the house, piled some brick around the cement, haphazardly piled windows and a roof on top of those bricks, cut out a door to the living room and called it an attachment.
We decided to cozy it up and call it our home office. We put down slate tile, painted over the cement walls and made plans to put in new windows that actually have screens and stay in place when a slight breeze comes through. We just haven't gotten around to the windows yet, as the bathroom needed gutting and that took precedent.
So there I was, sitting in our Florida room/office/wind tunnel, gathering my thoughts about the war on terror and wiping up a small puddle when I notice the spots on the wall below the windows. Wet spots. Running down the wall from the bottom of the window to the floor.
There was a horror movie - I think it was Amityville Horror - where blood appeared on the walls whenever an evil entity was present. Being that our walls are painted a sort of rusty red that reminds one of dried blood, this was the first thing I thought of. You don't believe in ghosts? We'll show you!
Eventually the blood would flow onto the floor and I would be caught in a river of evil as I screamed for my husband and tried desperately to rebut my opponent's point about the root causes of terrorism. I would be carried away to some holographic hole in the atmosphere where I would be sucked into an alternate universe where people had horns in their head and fed on the souls of live humans. Eventually they would make a movie about me. George Lucas would direct and make it appear as if I attacked the evil river of blood before it attacked me. It would flop, but become a cult movie years later, a slice of life anecdote reflecting the days of Bush v. Kerry.
The blood, of course, representing oil.
It was just water. Water, water, everywhere but not a towel with which to clean it. All the towels were in the washing machine. By this time, the husband is in the office, inspecting the walls and floors while I try to explain to my debate opponent that I'm experiencing technical difficulties. I don't think he believed me, said something about me fearing his wrath. You don't know wrath, buddy. Wrath is me screaming into the night, words and curses about seeking revenge on the previous homeowner, the inspector, the real estate agent, Mother Nature and Al Gore. I threw Al in just for the hell of it. I mean, while I'm raging against the world, I may as well sneak in what I can.
I decide to debate the storm instead of my opponent. I question its timing. I ask it pointed questions about the necessity of sudden downpours, lightning, tornadoes and uprooted trees
. It doesn't answer in the alloted time given and I win. Or do I? Its answer finally comes, in the form of another gust of wind that knocks down the cast iron Halloween tree in my garden. Booya!,
the wind says.
I closed the chat room and exited less than gracefully from the debate. But it's hard to muster up righteous indignation and astute, intelligent answers when you're trying desperately to get all your accumulated crap to higher ground. We piled everything on top of the desk, unplugged anything electric and started searching for the source of the leak.
Turns out it wasn't coming from the ground at all. Seems like Mr. Evil Homeowner didn't know jack shit about putting in windows. They leak like a no-frills diaper. The rain was coming in the bottom and sides of the windows, trickling down to the brick ledge beneath them and then forming rivulets that flowed down the grooves between the brick, down the wall and onto the floor, where the spaces between the slate tiles acted as conduits for the forming rivers. It all would have been pretty if it weren't so tragic.
Ok, not tragic. Tragic is this
, and that puts my little flood problem into perspective. But let me tell you, when you are in the middle of a 2am siege (we had stayed up pretty much all night to keep an eye on the water situation), it's hard to find perspective. The wind, the driving rain, the filled to capacity gutters overflowing and making a small ocean on the soon to be repaved walkway, an 11 year old with a nasty stomach ache that had him running for the bathroom every twenty minutes, the barking of the neighbor's dog all freaking night, the flying pumpkins landing against your house, well. You can see where I lost my sense of perspective.
So I sit here this morning, unable to gather up the energy to go to work, tending to my sick son and performing a balancing act with the bank account and bills so that we may be able to put new windows in the office before the next storm strikes. Some day I'll finish that debate with Mr. Pollack
, but right now I'm more concerned with waging my war on the evil rivers of
water that need to be cleaned up. It seems to be mostly dried up, but I can't help thinking about that scene in The Believers
, where Martin Sheen's wife steps in a puddle of spilled milk
as she turns on her coffee pot and ends up doing the electric slide to death. I've made sure to wear sneakers with rubber soles just in case.
This is my life, one horror movie at a time.