When we last left the mansion the score was: gas, on, furnace, blazing; water, off. Drought conditions continued to plague the carriage house. At times, they felt Biblical in proportion, although they were not.
Friend of a friend (let’s call him FOF) came by with his helper. The door was locked. Could I zoom away from work again to open it? Well, goddamn it, of course I could. I zoomed home and gave my millionth tour of the mansion to my millionth awed visitor.
Trouble: on our way to the basement to investigate the water situation, we see a wall busted out and plastic pipes sitting there like part of a tiny organ. All the way down, we find more destruction. Pipes ripped apart and the copper stripped away. All the hot water heaters gone. The air conditioner coil. While this is distressing, the guys seem to be loving shining their flashlights about, following pipe after pipe. This goes to one bathroom. To another. To another. To another. To the kitchen. To the washing machine.
FOF educates his helper about how the house was built. “We call this a balloon frame. If one floor catches fire, the whole thing goes up. The supports are all in a line, floor by floor, so there’s nothing to stop it from traveling up.” (Upon further research, I learned that balloon framing came from “French Missouri,” and was one of the reasons Chicago burned, and it makes the mansion more expensive to heat. It’s also one reason they were able to quickly build boom towns in the U.S.)
A cable across the ceiling, I am told, was probably installed to help hold up the living room floor. Could a cable do that? “It’s steel,” FOF said. Ah. Yeah. Note to self: watch weight limit on dance floor. This ship isn’t built for dancing!
FOF thought they could run a line from where water enters the house, bypass the mansion system, and attach the other end to where the water goes to my house. This will cost me $100. A trip to Home Depot later, they have hooked up my new pipeline, a white snake across the long cement floor of the mansion basement. They turn the water on. Hallelujah! But, no.
Okay, FOF says, there are a few other things we can try, but it’s not looking promising. I left them to additional tinkering, and went up to my quarters. Despair. Agony. All was lost. I snatched up a St. Jude candle and ran around looking for a lighter, one of the last remnants of me dating a smoker, and one of the best. I said the prayer (emergencies are no time for freelance), lit the candle, and then I sat on my bed, very still, and felt my feelings, which is one of the great innovations my Buddhist friends have introduced to me. It’s awful. Only slightly less awful than acting out.
FOF called out. I went back downstairs, glumly. “Hey, I couldn’t see that without the flashlight,” someone was saying. Then I heard my kitchen sink burst forth with streams of the beautiful pure water like the rock when Moses struck it. I jumped up and down. I would have cursed, but I was afraid FOF might be offended.
“I want to kiss you, but that doesn’t seem appropriate!” I said.
“Well, he’s single,” FOF said, gesturing at his buddy. The buddy didn’t take me up on my offer. But, to be fair, would you want to kiss a girl who had been without water for a week?
NEXT on MANSION ADVENTURES: The Cavalry Arrives, or, Why That Cop Car Is In My Driveway.