Them damn kids from down the road have been playin’ road hockey out in the street all week. Every time ya try to get by them, they hold up their game just barely long enough to move the net three or four inches so you can get your truck around it, and before you’re even in the driveway, they’re already playin’ again, chasin’ their orange street hockey ball all over everybody’s yard.
So I walk in the door complainin’ about the kids, but by the time we sat down to eat, Minnie was on one of her usual jags.
I swear every year Minnie picks a window and just decides out of the blue it got a draft. A different window every year. Last year it was the bathroom window, and the year before that it was the window over the kitchen sink. I was already thinkin’ to myself after that first time we got some real snow – I wonder which window she’ll harp about this year?
Well, it’s good to know I won’t die of curiosity, because that night when I walked in, we weren’t ten minutes into supper when we found out. Everything was goin’ right normal – I was complainin’ about the kids outside, Minnie yelled at me not to use so much salt and at Little Bill for wearin’ his hat at the table, Rosie was tellin’ us somethin’ we didn’t know about somethin’ we never heard of, and the dog was sittin’ there, starin’ up at me with his big sad eyes beggin’ for me to drop a scrap for him. It was pork chops we were havin’, and I was just about to scoop up some peas when Minnie came out with it.
Oh my cripes! She said, There’s an awful draft sittin’ here! It’s right, oh my god, it’s .. She searched around for the words and pulled her hands up inside her sweatshirt and rubbed them together and then blew into them, then covered her ears and rubbed them to get them warm.
Oh for godsakes! I said. It can’t be that bad of a draft! You’d swear to cripes you were in a hut ice fishin’ out in River Ryan, the way you’re goin’ on.
Right here, she said. Look! Just look at this, and she pointed at Rosie’s shoulder. Look at that now – you can see her hair movin’, the draft is so bad.
G’waaaay, I said, gettin’ up to inspect the window. See, the thing I learned is, ya gotta start off denyin’ it big time, otherwise she’ll have me out there tryin’ to fix it. And I know from experience, when Minnie starts goin’ on about there bein’ a draft, most of the time there’s nothin’ there to fix. One time a few years ago when she said she couldn’t watch TV anymore because of the draft comin’ from the picture window (after about two weeks and two hundred times complainin’ about it), I went outside, stood there for a minute or two, waved to the neighbour walkin’ the dog, and came back inside without doin’ anything at all.
That’ll fix it, I told her. There was a little gap in the frame, I said, but I closed ‘er right up.
THANK you, she said right dramatically. Now was that so hard?
And even though I never did anything to the window, wouldn’t you know it – the “draft” disappeared entirely after that.
So the other night when she said the kitchen window had a draft, I thought – Oh yeah, hear we go again. But then Rosie piped up.
Oh yeah, look at that, Da! It actually is blowing the hair off my shoulder.
And sure enough, even though there wasn’t a draft comin’ from the window anywheres all the way around it, you could see some kind of draft was blowin’ her hair.
That’s not a draft, Little Bill says to his sister. That’s just your hair tryin’ to get away from your face.
You’re a riot, Rosie says to him. Is your girlfriend pregnant yet?
Quit it now, the two of yis, Minnie said.
But I barely heard them because by this time I was kind of fascinated by this draft. For the first time in years, Minnie felt a draft that was actually there. It’s like the boy who cried wolf, only if a wolf suddenly jumped out of nowhere and ate him.
Now we were in the middle of a real mystery. I held my hand by Rosie’s shoulder and I could feel the cold air on it.
Holy cripes, I said. There is a draft.
And Minnie nodded her head and crossed her arms as if somehow this one draft made her right all them other years.
Anyways, after a little investigation, with the four of us wavin’ our hands around, I figured out the draft was comin’ up from under the table. So I got down on my hands and knees and me and Little Bill crawled around until we figured out the draft was comin’ from under the basement door.
It’s comin’ from downstairs! I said, and the two of us bolted up and went to the door, openin’ it right careful. You’d swear to cripes we were Sherlock Holmes and Watson, hot on the trail of the big mystery.
I told ya there was a draft! Minnie said over our shoulders as we headed down the stairs.
You could feel the cold air blowin’ through the basement, and I was some confused. Then Little Bill says, Look! Over there!
And he pointed at the basement window on the driveway side, all smashed in with the glass on the floor.
I walked over to see what happened, but halfway there I slipped – on a bright orange street hockey ball.
Them little jeezers, I said.