Our deck broke my sister-in-law’s ass. It also tried to have me arrested.
It began in August 2006 when Jill decided to go and get herself pregnant. Which led to a shitstorm of shit. We had a toddler and a new house and no steady stream of income. It was a rough time for her belly to get all babyful. But if that wasn’t enough, on top of cramming a passenger up in her uterus, Jill opted to get an insane sinus infection as the winter set in. What the hell she was thinking, I’ll never know. The infection got so bad, it blew out her eardrum until blood trickled down her jaw. All Hail the Drama Queen. Am I right? So to the hospital we went.
THEN a few weeks later, I took Ian to open gym at our local park district. For 5 bucks, Ian got to run around with other kids in his age group in a padded gym and do gym things while moms stood around in tight pants and dads tried out the pummel horse (dads = dad . . . dad = me). Everything was going boringly until Ian decided to bump into another kid and fall two feet down onto his face and bust his eye all wide open. Way to go, genius! We took him to a pediatrician and he said Ian could use a stitch or two. But since the gash was so close to his eye, the doc decided against it. Ian spent over a week with a black eye and I still have a tiny scar on my heart about it.
Finally, on a January day during that cursed winter, the deck seized its moment. Yes, this post is still about my deck. It was lying dormant, watching and waiting and biding its time. Because it’s a deck and it couldn’t physically go anywhere else. Also because the evil.
We were going to my in-laws’ house. I was in the car with Ian waiting for Jill. As per usual. Jill has this 10-minute rule that she’s yet to explain to me. It goes like this: whenever we go anywhere as a family, Jill gets to roam the house for 10 minutes after I load the car up and buckle in all the wee ones. It was in our wedding vows somewhere, I believe. Everything will be all set and Jill will stay in the house for 10 additional extra superfluous bonus minutes. She does this for no reason. No reason whatsoever. Even if we’re late, with the kids screaming, beating each other, kicking the back of my seat, she’ll still insist on circling the house, visiting every room, for ten more minutes. Just because. Every time.
So the 10-minute rule was in full effect. We were running late and Ian was getting restless. Jill knew this, but rules are rules. Anyway, once the 10 minutes were up, she came tearing out of the house, fully 7 months pregnant, onto the icy deck in shoes meant for summertime picnics. She slipped and fell flat on her side.
The rest of the weekend, the otherwise active baby didn’t kick once.
We were terrified.
We took our third trip to the emergency room. And that’s when the deck’s evil plan was revealed to me. Yes, this post is still about the deck!
I was in the waiting room of the ER with Ian while Jill was talking to the nurses.
Suspicious Nurse 1: “We see in your medical history that you were in here recently with a ruptured ear drum.”
Jill: “More like exploded.”
Suspicious Nurse 2: “Is the problem in the waiting room?”
J: “Wha—? NO!”
SN1: “You can tell us.”
J: “There’s nothing to tell, I slipped-” Jill, flustered, defensive.
SN2: “You’re safe here.”
J: “ . . . he . . . he’s a monster.”
While I was keeping Ian occupied, the nurses were trying to get Jill to admit that she was the victim of domestic abuse. Had they looked out into the waiting room they would have seen a very stressed, unemployed man, with uncertain job prospects, wearing camo shorts in the dead of winter, trying to keep his toddler son calm while his pregnant wife was racking up medical bills they had no way to pay. Had they been able to access Ian’s medical records, they would have seen that, in addition to Jill suffering a ruptured ear drum and a mysterious fall, Ian also had his eye busted open. All in the last 5 weeks. I would have been led out of the hospital in handcuffs. In my camo shorts.
What I’m saying to you is that the deck wanted me to get arrested. It knew that we had multiple trips to the ER and it was hoping that the circumstances would paint me as a Midwestern Jack Torrance and get me locked up. I can’t prove this. But I know it’s true. I’ve read plenty of Stephen King. And books don’t lie.
It must have been PISSED when it saw me walk out of the car and step on its face to get in my house. Doubly pissed when it saw the relief on our faces that the baby was fine and suffered no harm in the fall. That day, coming home after the emergency ultrasound, was when we knew we were having a little girl and her name was Elsa.
The deck would get its revenge years later. I said it was evil, I never said it was fast.
About two months ago my sister-in-law slipped on the deck and broke her coccyx. Which is the ass bone. You know what you can do for a broken ass bone? Nothing. Except sit sideways FOR THE REST OF YOUR LIFE. Or until it heals.
I really don’t have any more to that episode. It’s pretty straightforward.
But then, just weeks ago, we had the master carpenter at our house fixing that kitchen window. My father-in-law came by to make sure this “carpenter,” with a scant 20 years of experience, knew how to buck-frame a goddamned window. My father-in-law is a retired cop so he’s more than qualified to oversee a master carpenter. (Though, to be fair, all men seem to think they were born with blueprints in their brains and a toolbelt around their waist. Fucking men.)
My father-in-law was taking a well-deserved break on our deck. Exhausted from all that supervision and second-guessing, he decided to lean RECKLESSLY against the railing like it was put there to keep him from falling off our deck. HELLOOOO! It’s a railing—it’s there to rail. SHIT!
What he didn’t know was that our deck was built with recycled lumber from the Overlook Hotel. Its sole purpose: ruin lives and shelter raccoons that ruin lives. Okay, it was a dual purpose.
When he saw that it clearly wouldn’t support his weight, he offered to pay for a new railing.
So of course, we tore nearly the entire deck up and started all over.
And okay, fine, most of the “evil” was just slipping and that was probably due to neglect. Letting leaves and snow pile up and rot the wood was my bad. And the only time I stained the deck was when I accidentally spilled a little wine on it.
But I promise to take good care of the new deck. Promise.
[camera pans down, focuses on a deck screw, zooms in, we see a tiny trickle of blood seeping where the screw is embedded into the decking, hold for a moment, we hear breathing, screen goes black]