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Tuesday, June 12th, 2018, 1:30 pm
“Well, here we are again,” said Keith conversationally.
Samuel joked, “If we were Italian we could be the Mario Brothers!”
Carmen said, “Brothers, then what does that make me?”
“You can be Princess Peach,” answered Keith.
“I’m so not a princess.”
“Well, you’re no Toad either,” said Keith.
Carmen noted, “Your mom’s name means princess.”
“Yes, but she’s too old to be a princess.”
“Hey, watch it, I’m older than her,” said Samuel.
“Really,” joked Keith, “I didn’t know people could be older. Are you OK? Do you need a cane or a walker?”
“Don’t make me punch you to prove my youth,” Samuel lightly threatened.
Carmen thought about saying, ‘You’re too old to box, Grandpa,’ but did not say it. He did not seem that sensitive about his age, but there was no point in pushing it. Instead, she said, “I hope we don’t find any Goombas or Koopa Troopas in those pipes!”
Samuel said, “Bah, none of those are in my pipes!”
Samuel had a small red metal toolbox with him. Carmen still had the builder with her. This time they went in at the opening they had left from in their previous tunneling. It was not as bad entering the second time. The smell was still there, but they were comfortable. Carmen was not even bothered as much by the claustrophobia.
When they arrived at the pipe Samuel had marked, Carmen made a few pipes. Samuel took out some tools, duct tape and parts.
Carmen asked, “How are we going to keep these pipes from emptying on us?”
“We’ll cut off the pipes as we go,” Samuel replied.
Samuel attached a wrench to the coupling on the clogged side of the pipe. He slowly unscrewed it. As it loosened, dark liquid slowly began to trickle down. With every turn, the liquid’s flow increased. The smell was hideous. The liquid was definitely from the same source as the smell. The air became thick with the smell. Nobody dared breathe through their mouths in case they would taste it.
The liquid was a steady flow now; they were all wet from sitting in it. Carmen imagined the long shower she would take after they finished. She held the builder up to keep it from getting wet.
When the coupling was loosened there was a small slit opening between the two pipes. Samuel quickly grabbed one of the parts he had removed from the tool kit. The part he had pulled out looked like a round disk that had some type of foil at the edges. Samuel quickly slipped the disk into the slit. Once in, he pulled at the foil. It separated toward each pipe. He quickly pressed the foil against the pipes. Next, Samuel grabbed the duct tape and quickly taped down the foil on the west pipe. As soon as the tape was ripped, he taped the foil onto the other pipe.
With the tape over the foil, the liquid’s flow was greatly reduced. It was still a steady trickle, but it was not gushing as it had been without the disk.
Keith offered, “Oh, I can help you tape the other side.”
“No, actually I need you to hold this pipe. When I loosen it on the other side, it’ll fall. This is the heavier side, so you should hold it.”
Carmen lovingly teased, “Are you sure? He’s a bit of a girly girl.”
Keith retorted in the same playful manner, “Maybe my boyfriend here would do a better job.”
In a sobered tone Carmen said, “OK, forget the jokes; let’s get out of this place.”
“Agreed,” said Keith as he crawled into position. Once Samuel was satisfied with Keith’s grip, he took his tools and parts to the other end of the pipe. Carmen followed closely behind.
Samuel quickly attached the wrench. When he was ready, Carmen put the builder on the dry toolbox than got out another disk. Samuel slowly turned the coupling. While some liquid did go through, it was very limited in comparison to the virtual flood of the last pipe. When the coupling was off, the weight of the pipe was realized by its two carriers. Carmen struggled to get the disc into place, but Samuel stopped her, “Don’t bother. It’s so clogged up that this side is empty.” He called back to Keith, “Let’s put it down on three.”
Keith replied curtly, “Fine, hurry.”
“One, two, three,” Samuel counted. They brought the pipe to the floor. On Keith’s side, it landed with a brief splash and then a dull thud. Samuel’s side was down as silently as a parent puts a sleeping child into bed. On Keith’s side, where the disk had been attached, the disk split between the pipes to form two disks.
Carmen picked up the builder, ready to replace the offending pipe with air. Samuel said, “No, we need to see what caused the block.” After Carmen put the builder back to it’s resting spot on the tool kit he continued, “Unless, of course, you want to do more plumbing!”
Keith said, “In that case, destroy it, Honey, destroy it.”
“No way, Mr. Freak Boy, play plumber on your own time,” she said.
Samuel pulled on the pipe to get a look. It was too dark, so he fumbled through the tool kit, still holding the pipe up with one arm. He found a flashlight that he quickly turned on. He aimed it down the pipe. When he saw what was causing the clog, his face grew a beat red. He slammed his fist, still holding the flashlight, up into the metal roof. A loud cracking sound was made as his fist hit the roof. Carmen thought she saw a drop or two of blood on Samuel’s knuckles. A dent in the metal had appeared where he had struck it.
Carmen knew it was a bad idea to ask, but Keith asked anyway, “What’s the matter?”
Gruffly Samuel replied, “Nothing, never mind.” Then more calmly he said, “Let’s get rid of this pipe.”
After Samuel put the pipe down Carmen said, “Everybody back up. We’ve never tried using a builder on an object in water.”
Samuel and Keith both backed up several feet. “Is this good?” asked Samuel.
Carmen nodded affirmatively.
She picked up the builder and set it to the proper mode. She turned it on, and the pipe above the water closest to her immediately clouded then disappeared. The water level was depressed below the removed section of pipe as if there was a drain directly below it. Slowly she moved forward removing the pipe above and below. As she went, the depressed section stayed before her, as if she was parting a sea of waste. As she got to the end, the water level not only where she was working but also throughout the entire area decreased. When the pipe was fully gone, she turned it off.
Keith suggested, “Maybe you should keep going to get rid of the water.”
Carmen asked Samuel, “Do we have to remove more pipes? We should wait until they are replaced, I think.”
“I hope we only need the one,” said Samuel. “Considering the flow when we separated them, it’s probably just this pipe. So let’s get a new pipe up there and see if it works.”
They got one of the pipes, and the three of them lifted it into place. It just barely fit. Samuel, who was on the east side where the disk had not been used, started turning the coupler by hand. When it got too tight to continue by hand, he used the wrench to finish the job.
Samuel went to the other end and started removing the duct tape. When the final wrap of duct tape came loose, the liquid started to flow again. Samuel quickly pulled back the foil and tugged the thin disk out. When it came out the liquid began to gush. He quickly got the coupler in place and started turning it manually. With all the liquid, he could not get half as far by hand as he had on the empty side. Samuel quickly attached the wrench and tightened the coupler. As it tightened, the liquid started flowing through the new tube. They could all hear it as it drained toward the command center.
When Samuel finished, he knocked on it with his fist. It gave a nice ring, like the unclogged pipes. He did the same on the neighboring pipe that had been backed up by the pipe they replaced. The ring was not as pronounced, but far better than it had been.
Samuel said happily, “It looks like we did it. We should be able to run water through for the rest.”
Carmen said, “Great! Let’s get rid of as much of this sludge as we can, and then get out of here.”
They backed up, ready for her to unleash the builder. With the liquid just added, it was at least five inches deep. She turned it on with almost the same settings she had used before. It was a slow process, and when she got close to the bottom, she stopped while there were still some puddles. It was only puddles that were left. She did not want to try getting the puddles and chance getting the floor as well.
“Will we have to clean these puddles?” Keith asked assuming the worst.
“No,” said Samuel sharply. “I’ll have the puddles cleaned. Don’t worry about them.”
Again, Carmen did not want to ask, and this time Keith was smart enough to keep quiet about it as well. Carmen assumed it was related to what Samuel had seen in the pipe.
They quickly crawled out, Carmen with the builder and Samuel with the toolkit. When they got out Keith said, “I don’t smell anything. The smell did not bother me near the end.”
“Thankfully, the same was true for me,” added Samuel.
Carmen suggested, “Maybe we got used to it. You know, like how you get used to a good smell, then you forget about it. It has to be the same for garbage men or people who work with city sewage systems.”
Keith wriggled his nose, “That’s awful, to be used to a smell like that. You’d never know when you smelled.”
“Well, really we probably don’t know anyway.”
“Oh, no, I know when I smell. You know the old Right Guard Left Guard trick.”
She raised her eyebrows.
Keith lifted his right arm and sniffed at the pit then declared, “Right Guard.” Next, he sniffed the other pit and said, “Left Guard.”
He faked a little bow.
Samuel said, “I better be going.” To Carmen he said, “Thanks for all the help.”
Carmen smiled and said, “You’re welcome, but it’s you who deserves the thanks. Thank you for saving the community from that nasty smell.”
Samuel made a half chuckle and said, “No problem. Later.”
Samuel walked off toward the command center. After he was gone Carmen said, “We better get showered.”
“Why?” Keith asked sarcastically.
Carmen said, “Because you stink. Go, get clean.”
“Well, you stink, too.”
“Exactly, so let’s go clean up!”
“I don’t know. I think I kind of like this. I won’t have to wait in any lines. Nobody I hate will bother me.”
“Yes, but if I’m washed before you I won’t bother with you either!”
Keith raised his hands surrendering, “OK, that’s motivation enough. I can’t believe this will have been the third shower I’ve had today. That’s like a world record!”
Copyright (C) 1998-2001 East Coast Games, Inc. and 2001 - 2006 Forest J. Handford