I knew I’d have to go down there sooner or later. I also knew I’d be down there a while, and being a fairly busy guy with a fairly low tolerance for tight underground spaces, I chose to deal with it later.
Well, ‘later’ came last week.
I started digging wide, cutting step stairs from two sides about three feet down. From there it got more surgical. I had to dodge an unidentified bundle of black cables and make sure not to go too far under the sidewalk or my sprinkler box. By the time I hit the six foot mark, I was working with about one square foot of space and removing clay with my bare hand.
As the sun went down that first night, I remembered that scene from Raiders of the Lost ark where the silhouettes of Indy and crew are pictured tirelessly digging for the cursed lost ark. The object of my quest was much less illustrious, but believe me, it was no less cursed.
This wouldn’t be my first encounter with the infernal bronze object. The first occurred four years ago when I twisted my sprinkler key and unleashed Old Faithful.
“It’s probably your stop/waste valve,” my dad told me when I called him. “It’s a pretty simple fix.”
Sure, unless it’s buried six feet under the hardest clay bed in the Basin & Range Province and located under an unidentified bundle of black cables.
It took us three days to replace it the first time. It took roughly the same amount of time the second time it broke. The third time I dug the hole it was just the PVC line that had broken. This year it was both the PVC line and the stop/waste valve. Obviously we were doing something wrong.
So my pal Trevis offered to help out. He had done this a time or two– successfully. I’d dig, he’d assemble. We worked on it on and off for about a week. Neighbors complemented me on my tidy excavation. I told them it was an archaeological dig.
“Our house was built on an old Indian burial ground,” I’d say.
Once things were finally fitted and glued, I began carefully molding sand and clay around my bronze foe and filled in the hole, finishing around sunset last weekend. Old Faithful has been capped, and my little portal to hell has finally been sealed.
At least for now.