Monday, February 13, 2017

Drive - A Memoir 44th Installment

and my welder is getting hotter than the pipe, and we’re going to burn the cussed thing up!” I was thinking: when something works Vernon says ‘I,’ and when something doesn’t work he says ‘we.’ Then he thought of the old well, a sixty foot deep well that used to have the pump jack on it to pump water. The new water pipe ran alongside of the old well pipe. He took the cap off the well, dribbled gasoline down the inside of the pipe, and then lit it ablaze. As the fire would burn down, one of us would dribble another cup of gas down the pipe and keep the fire going. Vernon had been out a long time, mostly without gloves, and he complained, “My hands are too cold to work, and I’m going in the house to warm up. Keep the fire going and be careful.”
We spent considerable time in the cold messing with the fire, pouring gas down the well, and trying to not set ourselves in flames. At one point, the fire had receded about thirty feet down the pipe, and Russ must have thought the lower the fire the more gas was needed. He flushed about a half gallon of gas down the well all at once. Nothing happened for a moment, and Russ and I bumped our heads together trying to look down to see if the fire went out. Then we saw it, felt it and actually heard the roar of the fire coming up! Russ and I jumped back just as a column of fire shot out of the well like a geyser. Cool. It lasted two or three seconds and went maybe ten feet in the air. Russ and I looked at each other with toothy grins on our faces and read each other’s minds. If a half gallon did this, wouldn’t a gallon or maybe two really shoot a tower of fire out of the well? We were sure it would, and were ready to try, but noticed Vernon coming out of the house. We looked back at each other, and I mouthed quietly, “We’ll burn the well another time when he’s not around.” It wasn’t much later the water started to drip out of the hydrant spout, drip, drip, drip. Then a small stream grew, and finally, we had full stream. It had worked. The remainder of that day the Old Man made a device; a pipe that would carry the water to the trough. Because it had a funnel thingy at the top of the pipe, the pipe would drain, and the hydrant could get air, so the frost–proof hydrant could drain when the water was shut off.
A few days later, as Vernon drove out of the lane going to only god knows where, we gathered up the gallon of gas, matches, and the tool to take off the well cap. We carefully dribbled the gas down the inside of

500 more words tomorrow

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