So we get home Saturday after a day of working at the Street Fair.
The firepit is lit. The wine bottle is open. The shoes are off. It is time to sit back and relax.
The phone rings.
" What's up?" It's our oldest grandson. I know his Dad is gone for the weekend. Generally, if Dad isn't home, these kinds of calls are not good.
"Ummm...is Poppa Larry there?"
"Yeah, he's here."
"Well, I need him to pull me out. I'm kinda, well, stuck in a big mudhole."
"Where are you?"
"Well, I'm..." He describes the location. I know exactly where he is; worse, I even know the mudhole. This road has never known a piece of gravel, at least not in the 30 years I've known it. It's one of the orphan roads that is still in use by a few people who have land back in there, or who own four-wheelers or horses. It's certainly not for anything less robust.
I recall how, back in 1977, we left dual exhausts smoking in that mudhole after they became detached from our four-wheel-drive after a tractor pulled us out. Nothing has changed for the better on that road.
I get Larry; he's just got the fire going good and isn't too thrilled about leaving. I remind him of the time he slid his Dad's truck over the hill when he was a kid. He gets the log chain, I get flashlights and a pair of mud shoes (so called because I keep them for when I know it's gonna get dirty) and we head out.
I am picturing my grandson's little Nissan pickup, two-wheel-drive, stuck in this hole. No problem to pull it out, I'm sure; the little truck goes well anyway, but is probably high-centered on ruts. We head out to White Rose Ridge.
We don't get too far out the road when a confusing array of lights greet us. Of course! It's Saturday night, and the four-wheeler crowd is out in force. A group of them came upon Jared stuck in the mud and had stopped to help. They have hooked a tow strap to his car.
Car? What a minute. Where's his truck? He is in his Dad's fairly new car, sunk into mud to the top of his tires. Not only that--the car has slid off the road and is dangerously close to a tree. Or maybe the tree is a good thing, because it's a pretty good drop-off on the hillside below the truck.
As we pull up, one guy on a four-wheeler revs it up and gives a mighty pull. Grandson guns the engine. The car slides further over the hill and closer to the tree.
"STOP!!!" I scream as loudly and angrily as I can. Two more inches and the side of the car is into the tree. The sun disappears behind the hills and light is fading. I grab a flashlight and go to look at the scary sight ahead.
A little girl (okay, I'm getting old, but 16 looks like a little girl to me) stares big-eyed from the passenger's window. Grandson is just as big-eyed in the driver's seat.
"Hey, Granny." Calm is what he tries to project. Calm is not what I'm feeling. The car is sitting at an odd angle, and the tree looms over it.
"Hey!!! This your car?" One of the guys walks up a little unsteadily. Well, it is Saturday night.
"No, it's my son's car and it's about to get torn up on that tree."
"Well, we were tryin' to pull it out, but ya know the four-wheeler just cain't do it." No duh.
He whispers, "I wasn't so stuck before they showed up and helped."
I whisper back, "What the hell were you doing out here anyway?"
"Well," he says, "it wasn't any trouble going through the first time."
First time? First time? I then realize he's heading back towards me, so evidently he had been through this hole once already.
After careful assessing of the position of the car, we hook to our truck and pull again. The car moves, but closer to the tree, the rear wheel now right against it. "Stop!!" I scream again. They probably wish I'd crawl in a hole somewhere, but all I see is this nice car sliding into the tree and its side being crushed in. Explain that to my son? I sure didn't want to!
More assessing by some sober, not-so-sober and not-at-all-sober people. Two women reassure the girl in the car. "We love you, honey, it'll be awlll right, you'll see." The girl does not look reassured.
The tow strap is hooked to the car again. The drunk guys go down over the hill on my instructions (what was I thinking?) and push against the car as the truck slowly, slowly accelerates. They manage to push it enough that the car clears the tree and the mudhole.
Everyone cheers. The tow strap twangs loose but all is well. The car is plastered with mud and so are we.
On the road, a woman starts to wail. "I lost my flip flop! I lost my flip flop!" By now it's completely dark but we use our flashlights to search for her shoe. No luck. She continues to wail. "My flip flop!"
One of the men confides, "Don't pay no attention to her. She's my wife. She's a drama queen and I have to put up with this every day of my life." What answer could I give to that? I give none.
We leave, making sure the car is behind us.
At home, the firepit is still lit. The wine is still open. We take off our shoes and wonder if we should call our son to tell him about his car. We recall the many times we have answered the phone at odd hours of the night and it is our son who calls for help. Like father, like son? Payback, as they say, can be hell.
Never mind. The call can wait for another day. For now the moon is high, the fire is bright, the car is okay and the grandson has been saved from yet another inexplicable situation.
Life is, after all, good. Muddy, but good.