Leslie, Georgia is not a hotbed of activity. Not much happens there. In fact, I’m willing to bet that people new to the state, unless they’ve driven up from Florida and have seen the small road signs pointing the way to this tiny hamlet, have no idea that it even exists, much less its precise location. The quiet of the countryside is broken only by trucks using its main drag as a short cut to Albany. Periodically, the “mosquito” plane drones overhead, doing battle with those buzzing demons that are very nearly the size of the plane trying to eradicate them. Unidentified insect sounds punctuate the wet green-ness; birds and gray squirrels fuss and quarrel in tall pecan trees, and an occasional spring rain adds to the symphony. This southwestern piece of Georgia is the very epitome of “tranquil.” One doesn’t envision a “national emergency” occurring here.
It has been twenty years since I was in Leslie, where my Aunt Margie, and late uncle, Curtis, have lived for eighty plus years, and raised their family, five of them, my cousins. It was way past time for a visit, so I dusted off the Nevada desert for a short trip to spend time with the only “blood” family I have remaining.
~ Yakkity-Yak ~
My aunt and I have the Irish gift for “blarney;” we can talk for hours about anything and nothing at all. We discuss food, houses, people, the state of the nation and the world. Nothing is off limits. Not too long ago, we were absolutely gobsmacked to realize we had talked on the phone for seven hours straight! “What,” my cousin, Cissy, asked her, “do you talk about for that length of time?!?” Neither my aunt nor I could answer that! So, our face to face visit resulted in some marathon conversations, beginning around eight in the morning and going non-stop til the next morning, generally finishing up around 3:00 a.m.!
A couple of nights before I was to return home, we sat in our respective chairs, chatting about everything and anyone, as usual. If we ran out of topics, we either recycled previous subjects, or made up new ones. Three-fifteen rolled around and we both made our way to bed. I was just about to tip over that sharp precipice dividing wakefulness and sleep, when there came a rattling of the doorknob and loud banging on the door and someone shouting. “Damn,” I thought, “the ghost is kicking it up tonight!” (That’s another story!)
~ Our National Emergency ~
I stumbled out of bed and opened the door to find my very distraught aunt, in her skivvies, waving her arms and shouting, “Hurry up! Hurry up! We have a national emergency out here!” Then she toddled quickly away, down the hall towards her room, where the tv was still on, and where , presumably, she had heard about the “emergency.” My mind, still bleary from almost sleep, thought,” WTH?!?! Have the Chinese finally decided to bomb us?!?” I immediately began thinking about evacuation plans; where to go? what to take? what about my dogs way back in Nevada? Has she alerted the rest of the family? Where is the first wave of attacks taking place? As all of this shot light speed quick through my head, I realized Margie had stopped in front of the laundry room door, very agitated, yelling, “Look! Look at this!” The Chinese are in the laundry room? Curious place to invade….
As full conciousness returned, I realized I was standing barefoot in a small lake of water that was slowly creeping towards the carpeted hallway, its origin a waterspout the size of Yellowstone’s Old Faithful, geysering from the hose connection to the hot water heater. Water was cascading off the front of the freezer, and the dryer, which was effectively blocking my way to be able to reach the tank’s shut off valve on the far wall. “Don’t get electrocuted!” shouted Auntie. I didn’t realize the water was dangerously close to the electrical outlets and cords for the freezer, washer and dryer, and I was in the middle of it. The water was already lapping the hem of my pajama bottoms. If I stayed in place much longer, a Chinese invasion would be the least of my worries!
,One more stretch and I managed to reach the valve and twisted until the water was shut off…..mostly. There was one. damn. drip. I tried tightening the hose to tank connector, but to no avail, as the problem was a tear in the hose itself. BUT….in all of Auntie’s small arsenal of tools, there was duct tape and….Flex Seal!! “SAVED!” I shouted, wading back into the water. Plan was to spray the seal on the tear and wrap it with the tape for added security against further leaking. Ever seen those Flex Seal commercials, particularly the one where you can repair a fish tank, inside-out, underwater? Don’t endanger your fish.
~ Why Deputy Fife’s Gun Was Never Loaded~
My plan was to stop the leak just for a second, long enough to hit it with a good shot of the seal. Two things went wrong immediately: 1) the leak refused to stop for the necessary second, and 2) in my haste to get the sealant sprayed on the break, I didn’t look at the direction in which the nozzle was turned…right at me. If you have ever seen the Andy Griffith show, you will understand why Andy never allowed Barney to load his gun with the one bullet Barney had stashed in his shirt pocket. I was Deputy Barney Fife with a loaded can of sealant.
My t-shirt is no longer wearable, and everywhere I propped my arm for support, it looked as if a mastodon from the La Brea tarpits had left its massive footprint. That included on top of the dryer, as well as on the top of the water heater as I reached across it, struggling to force the valve closed. My second shot with the seal coated several hangers swinging under some cabinets. The cabinets didn’t escape unscathed, either. Neither did the wall behind the water heater. By the time I was finished trying to implement my “plan” to seal the leak quickly, pretty near everything in the laundry room was sealed, except the drip and Margie. Spraying the sealant directly on the tear didn’t work as the liquid dripping just washed it away, right on to several terry face cloths that had been pressed into service to try and mop up some of the water. The second half of my plan didn’t work any better than the first, the water just bubbling up under the tape and dribbling out each end. Returning from throwing on a house coat, Margie said, “Outside! We have to turn it off from the street!”
~ “Not a Creature Was Stirring…” ~
SO…..at 4a.m., two white haired, senior citizens were fumbling around outside in the dark, barefoot, in pajamas, trying to locate the main water shut off valve, digging and pulling grass and dirt until we located the steel plate covering the valve. The weak beam from Margie’s little flashlight disturbed, right off the bat, a spider the size of my big toe. I have said many times, it’s a darn good thing I am NOT a hysterical woman, otherwise that water would NEVER have been turned off. But, with a little more scuffling and muttering, I located the main valve and twisted it to the off position. That spider never moved in all the commotion. Nothing else moved, either! Not a car, truck, no dogs barking, no yowling, prowling cats, no lights from nearby neighbors’ houses turned on. An army could have invaded, totally unhindered. I had expected someone to at least send a police cruiser down the street to check out our dawn antics on the sidewalk. (To be fair, though, Leslie, Georgia is nowhere near the size of Mayberry, so perhaps there wasn’t a deputy to call!) Unnoticed, we trooped back inside to find the water completely off. However, that wasn’t the end of it. Sealant was still plastered everywhere…mostly on me! My aunt and I sat for about an hour and a half, peeling and scrubbing the goopy, black stuff off my hands and arms, clear up to my elbows. My fingernails remained “sealed” for several days. The flex hadn’t stopped the drip, but parts of me would have remained relatively dry in a rainstorm.
~Do Not Disturb, Please~
Around 5:30 a.m., Margie and I staggered off to our respective beds. As I closed my door, I spoke to the resident ghost, telling him I was not in the mood for knocks, slamming doors and banging washing machine lids, and, that if I heard him at all, he was going to find himself an active participant in our “national emergency,” shrouded for all eternity in a coat of Flex Seal. He stayed quiet, not only for what remained of that night, but for the rest of my visit. Flex Seal…..didn’t shut off the leak, but it shut up a ghost.