Nice Fall, Have a Good Trip | HumorOutcasts

Nice Fall, Have a Good Trip

October 27, 2017

It was a strange day, in that I did home maintenance work, but didn’t get hurt.

Not exactly.

I closed all the storm windows, and replaced some screens. I still have creases in some of my finger bones from doing that in previous autumns.

I started up the furnace without so much as a single explosion. Our furnace uses hot water heat: Nice, even heating, without the pain and dust of blowers and ducts. However, it was constructed during the Nixon administration. Turning it off in the spring is kind of like a cliffhanger at the end of a TV season, when you’re not sure if the show’s going to be canceled.

I climbed on the roof to clean out a gutter, which drains water from the second floor, and eventually, onto my head. This requires me to stand on a rubber-coated flat portion of my roof. The last time I tried that when the roof was wet, I did an uncanny imitation of Charlie Brown trying to kick Lucy’s football, complete with “Aaaarrrrgggghhhhh!”

All went boringly well, which I found very exciting.

To clean the other gutters I had to climb a ladder. As a firefighter of over three decades I have a great deal of experience climbing ladders. I’ve climbed ladders with fifty feet of fire hose draped over one shoulder, while carrying an ax in my other hand, with a forty pound air bank on my back, in zero visibility and zero degrees temperature. At no time on a fire scene have I ever had a mishap on a ladder. At home, while cleaning the gutters, I once had a twenty foot extension ladder fall on my ear.

The gutters are now clean. No life-threatening incidents ensued.

Honestly, I was beginning to despair of having anything to write about as I finished my fall prep work and went inside. There my wife asked me to get some frozen meat out of the garage freezer.

So I guess it’s her fault.

My garage is presently junk central. I know what you’re thinking, and no, yours isn’t as bad as mine. It presently has in it three lawn mowers, due to past misadventures. There are also four giant cardboard boxes, the kind you put major kitchen appliances in, which we’d procured to build a fort for the grand-twins. There are several lawn-sized trash bags full of aluminum cans–we save them until we get over a hundred pounds, which gets us a better price at the recycling place. Out of room, I’d balanced one of them on my wheelbarrow. There are more tools than at Doc’s Hardware, of the variety you’d usually find in a medieval torture chamber, and half of them are on the floor. There is 250 feet worth of extension cord and 50 feet of garden hose. For all that, I have never, ever fallen in my garage.

Until I had in my hand four packages of frozen meat, weighing perhaps fifteen pounds in all. For the record that included hamburger, sausage, chops, and steak.

I closed the freezer door, turned, and fell over.

It was pretty much as simple as that. Something got behind my feet, and that was that. On the way down my upper thighs hit a lawn mower, which made the rest of me go down that much harder. My head caved in a large wire animal cage which, I’m happy to point out, was unoccupied.

The good news is that the concrete floor broke the rest of my fall.

Then the huge cardboard box slowly tipped over directly toward me. It was full of bags of aluminum. Well, it was.

The whole thing was right out of a Home Alone movie.

So I lay there, taking inventory. Something (the mower’s gas cap, I think) was jammed into my upper thigh. The bags had not broken open, so I hadn’t suffocated in an avalanche of pop cans, and the bags were easily thrown aside. I was still holding three of the four frozen packages. The other problem was that, with my legs flung over the mower and my head jammed against the cage, I wasn’t at all sure I would be able to get up.

I quickly formulated a plan. I would text to my wife: “Watson, come here; I want to see you”. This was the first thing said by Bell on the first telephone call, and I figured she’d appreciate the humor. Too bad I’d left my phone inside.

So it took a little while to get off the floor, but eventually I did, and the rest is anticlimactic. Ibuprofen, muscle salve, literally rolling out of bed the next morning. If I had a buck for every time my back hurt, I’d buy a chiropracter. I still can’t sit properly, as the gas cap seems to have actually bounced off my left upper femur.


The irony there is that I was assaulted by the same mower I wrote about a few months ago, the one I had so many problems with. Revenge?

Or just one final indignity?

That one.


This home “improvement” sent me into physical therapy.

Mark R Hunter

Mark R Hunter is the author of three romantic comedies: Radio Red, Storm Chaser, and its sequel, The Notorious Ian Grant, as well as a related story collection, Storm Chaser Shorts. He also wrote a young adult adventure, The No-Campfire Girls, and a humor collection, Slightly Off the Mark. In addition, he collaborated with his wife, Emily, on the history books Images of America: Albion and Noble County, Smoky Days and Sleepless Nights: A Century or So With The Albion Fire Department, and Hoosier Hysterical. Mark’s work also appeared in the anthologies My Funny Valentine and Strange Portals: Ink Slingers’ Fantasy/Horror Anthology. For two decades Mark R Hunter has been an emergency dispatcher for the Noble County Sheriff Department. He’s served over 32 years as a volunteer for the Albion Fire Department, holding such positions as safety officer, training officer, secretary, and public information officer. He also has done public relations writing for the Noble County Relay For Life, among other organizations, and served two terms on the Albion Town Council. When asked if he has any free time, he laughs hysterically. Mark lives in Albion, Indiana, with his wife and editor Emily, a cowardly ball python named Lucius, and a loving, scary dog named Beowulf. He has two daughters and twin grandsons, and so naturally is considering writing a children’s book.

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2 Responses to Nice Fall, Have a Good Trip

  1. October 28, 2017 at 9:06 am

    Oh dear! So glad you survived to tell the story, Mark. As a devoted (for lack of a better term) DIY-er, I know the dangers you face.

    • October 29, 2017 at 5:28 am

      As far as DIY work, I’d rather not. Yet I get started on it anyway (as opposed to finishing), leaving my wife to say that rather than be devoted, I should be committed.

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