Stumped! (Part 2)

I’d been wrestling a tangle of trees from the ground like a beggar wrestles a hamburger.

It was me versus half a dozen of these little guys with big roots, all spreading like a case of the unmentionables on half the front yard of the krakhaus gig. And I beat all of ’em, save one. It thought it outsmarted the likes of me by winding its taproot over to the side of the foundation where the shovel couldn’t find purchase. So I left it for a few days to get real thirsty and think about its problems, there in the middle of what hole I could make around it.

Came back to it Saturday to see if it figured out if it wanted to do things the easy way or the hard way.

Hard way it was.

Hacked at it some more with the shovel. Dug on a little deeper. And in the end I put on the gloves, wrapped my hands tightly around it, put my back into it, and twisted until something snapped. Not the way I wanted this to go down, but it’s results that matter for the likes of the people I answer to.

I put the remains under a pile of shrubs on the curb. With any luck the city crew will haul off the carcass, no questions. And I turned my attention to this swatch of stump-free sod.

The face of the ground was scratched up worse than Chicken-Pox Mary’s over in the part of town gentle folk stay out of. But I had the tools to fix that. Between the shovel and the rake, I got it graded pretty good, but not without finding even more puzzle pieces:

  • A comb for a dolly.
  • Shards of glass.
  • A piece of paper curiously marked “Mars.”
  • A rusty nail.
  • A baggie that once held, well, we can probably guess.
  • And a bone.

First the bone, right? Called in a solid from a guy who knows what’s what about these things. And it just got even more crazy. Turns out the bone is from a cow. But what would a cow be doing around here?

I needed to right my course, and quick. You can drive yourself nuts with questions like this, and get yourself a lot closer to the end of the day without getting a bit closer to the end of the job. I put the clues aside. Maybe there’d be time later.

Right now, it was time to seal up this ground before someone came sniffing around.

Laid some of those bricks we saved from inside the place — when we cracked a chimney like we crack either skulls or beers, depending on the mood.

Plugged ’em in good and tight and got started on making a pretty li’l courtyard, right there at the wrong side of a dead-end road. Once I pack in a littler crusher run in those joints, it’ll be the end of life for anything up under there. And it’ll look like it’s been there for a good minute.

That work will take another couple of days when I can spare the time. And then I’ll turn to the other half of the front, where it don’t get no prettier.

See you in the funny pages.

Read the first action-packed, exciting installment of “Stumped!” 

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