Saturday, February 07, 2015

One Night In Kemptville - Pt. 3

It was right about this time that Joel decided he had better go down and check on his mom and uncle, who were most likely raking around the dumping concrete and having a lovely conversation while we slaved away. What he found was his mom and uncle breathing heavy and looking flabbergasted, almost completely submerged in a mountain of sludge, with splatters all over their clothes, hair, face and glasses. Deciding to relieve them to chute duty and random tasks, Joel and two younger whippersnappers (cousins of his) moved into the boathouse for chute duty while I stayed up top with the neighbour and others on the wheelbarrows.

With a few deep breaths, I was determined to master the 'technique' I lacked. After shedding a few layers and a few pounds on one of the hottest fall days imaginable, I took my second load at full steam to the ramp, jammed on the brakes at the right moment, and fully dumped all of my bucket contents down the chute. Cheers from Joel's mom and neighbour and everyone were a sign of encouragement, but an annoyance for me. I knew I could do it. As the wheelbarrows never seemed to cease, I felt like I was on assembly line. Sweat poured into every hole in body. My arms and back were sore, but we were all making headway. At about 11 am, the sun was in its full helm of fire, blasting both Joel and the youngins in the boathouse and I and the barrow movers up top. With only about two more spills from me all day, the work was slowly getting done, and at one point, I thought about the party at the Branch - and just how far away from the hellscape of reality that lovely moment was at that moment.

After hearing that Joel needed more help in the boathouse, as the barrow loads were unrelenting and unceasing, I moved down to help him and let the whippersnappers come up top and move some barrows. Joel was covered. I could barely make out his eyes and teeth under a thick lacquer of crusty greyness. More than that, the sun was now at an apex and where there was shade up top, the boathouse was a full on heat zone, open to the full torch of the sun. "Great," I thought - "I should have stayed on wheelbarrow duty". For the next hour and a half or more, Joel and I would take turns shovelling heavy loads that magically appeared through a hole in the boathouse ceiling. My new work boots were caked and my socks were soaked in about 12 inches of concrete on the floor. Under a hole, a mountain began forming, as Joel and I couldn't keep up with the breakneck speed of the barrows. While the concrete poured, you couldn't move it - as the spray was machine gun-esque as it hit the ground near our feet, and if you looked at the pile to see if it had stopped too soon, flecks of the shit would fly into your eyes and give you a sharp sting.

Within ten minutes, I was just as covered as Joel. My arm hairs were connected by a thick matte of stone dust. It was in our mouths. We had to keep yelling for them to stop, and eventually, we had to take a few minutes break and let the mountain form, and move it once the barrows had stopped their tumultuous reign of terror. Eventually, a large molehill of crete had formed between Joel and I - it was probably four feet high. Bit by bit, though, we moved the pile and raked and smoothed and did what we could. The whippersnappers helped us out from time to time, and we pushed and shovelled and raked and kicked and fought.

By about three o'clock, we had somehow done the deed. People had left. Our backs ached and our forearms felt like they would pop out of their skin. It was 29 degrees out. Joel and I carved our initials (along with all the others) into the new walkway in front of the boathouse. I drank about three litres of water.

We felt like kings who had been through battle. Joel and I jumped in the lake in shellacked clothing - boots and all. We dunked our heads and marvelled at the insanity of what had just occurred. Joel got a text from his cousin Jill who had offered us some cold beers at her place at the other end of the lake. With a bag of doritos in tow, we jumped in the old silver boat, fired up the motor, and roared across a glassy Otter lake. I barely remember getting to Jill's place, but we sat in the sun on her old pontoon boat, and drank icy Bud Lights. They tasted like springs from the fountain of heaven. After feeling myself start to fade, I excused myself, took a photo in Jill's bathroom of myself - to remind myself that I lived through this day - and fell asleep on her couch.

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