It’s been a year since I went in deep on the krakhaus case, clearing out the entire east side of hard-knots before getting pulled into other work. Gotta pay the bills.
But enough was enough. It was time to go back in.
What I faced on the west side was a smaller piece of turf, but it was the nastiest of the lot. The stump that was running the show was a huge piece of I-dunno-what. He’d been cut off at the trunk, but he was far from dead. One exposed root wound it’s way along an entire half of the front yard of the krakhaus, from steps to cornerstone, and against a wall so snug that it seemed to have no weak spot. And to boot, there were enough henchmen stumps guarding the front that I needed some real firepower before I could even get in close enough to size things up.
And that’s why I called in my German friend, Mr. Mattock.*
Whatever tool you need in this line of work, Mattock has probably got you covered. He weighs more than both of my other allies, Mr. Axe and Mr. Hoe., and can do the work of both, depending on which side he’s showing you. That makes him my favorite heavy. Yeah, it takes a lot of work to get him moving, but these chump stumps weren’t gonna dig, cut or wrench themselves out . So I wet my whistle, wet my hands and we went in swingin’.
Some of these bastards were devious, their intertwined roots locking like arms in this town’s ugliest game of Red Rover. Still, in a couple of hours the two of us had dispatched everything but the Big Man.
And then things got complicated.
That thick side root at first looked rotten, like it might pull right up. But it was strong and turned out deceptively young underneath a rotten veneer. And when I got right on top of the stump, I realized he’d holed up in the perfect lair: His back was against the cinder block foundation, and his front was tucked in behind a meter owned by the local water utility. His front was literally being guarded by the city, and he and I both knew that last thing I wanted was the guys in uniforms sniffing around. The only angle of attack I had on him was through that long, strong arm of his.
Mattock knew what to do. He hewed his way through, bit by pulpy bit. And when the two of us finally broke through that arm, instead of triumph, we only felt despair.
Sure, a six-foot piece of the Big Man came free and joined the carcasses of his buddies on the curb. But it was also clear that the heart of the stump was wedged just as firmly in the ground as ever. It either had a giant taproot going straight down or another big root growing up under the crawlspace of the krakhaus. Or both.
Point was, I’d failed. And I was tired. But I wasn’t whupped; not me, and not yet.
One thing was as clear — clear as my head isn’t on a morning after I’ve enjoyed a fifth of mother’s ruin: I needed a little more help.
It was time to make a phone call.
(To be continued…)
* The mattock really is of Germanic origin. Also, it really is heavy too.