Big Billy – Full of hot air

I don’t mind tellin’ yis, if there’s a way for me to get out of doin’ somethin’, I’ll take that way every time. I never done an ounce more work than the bare minimum that needed to be done, and I ain’t ashamed of it, either. I’m kind of proud of it, actually.

I mean, if a buddy needs a hand with somethin’ then I’ll be right there with the shirt Big BIllyoff my back, but he better be a good buddy, and he better damn well need that shirt.

Minnie, now, on the other hand, she got a heart of gold and she’d help anybody with anything just because she was asked. And that’s what got me in trouble this week.

Now the other day there, it was just friggin’ swelterin’. The sun was out all day, and I don’t know what a humidex is, but I guess the thing was through the roof. I was flopped in my chair in the living room not even really watchin’ TV when I hear Minnie rootin’ around in the cupboards.

I had to get up to get another drink of pop anyway, so when I go in the kitchen (damn near trippin’ over the two cats sprawled out in the doorway), I seen she had a bunch of mixin’ bowls and the bag of flour and that out. What are you doin’? I ask her.

Just makin’ a few sweets for Joan’s thing this weekend, she says.

Now, Cyril and Joan is Minnie’s brother and his wife, and Joan’s a member of some kind of Ladies’ Auxiliary and they’re always puttin’ on bake sales and all that, and Minnie’s always right there helpin’ Joan with anything that needs to be done, even though Minnie’s not in the group herself.

You gotta be kiddin’! I says to Minnie. You’re gonna turn the oven on in this heat? That one’s nuts if she thinks –

Hold your horses, Minnie says. She got a window fan over there she said we could have. Great big one fits the whole window – so the least I can do is bake her a few trays of brownies and a thing of shortbread cookies. Now get over there and get it.

Now, I’m not too happy to have to go out in the heat, but you pick your battles, eh? So off I go in the truck. When I get over there, Cyril and Joan’s not home but their daughter Cathy’s outside watchin’ her little fella, Little Jim, run through the sprinkler.

Needless to say, I stayed a few minutes and wet my head under the sprinkler and chased Little Jim a bit through the water, which was so cold it felt like a million bucks.

Cathy told me the fan was just inside the back door, so I got it and took it back home. I took my good old time gettin’ back there, too, because the breeze from the open window in the truck felt really good with my head all wet and that.

Anyways, I walked in the door just as Minnie was puttin’ the icing on the first pan of brownies and holy cripes, the heat smacked me in the face somethin’ unbelievable.

Oh my god, I started to say, but before I could even get the words out of my mouth Minnie says, Suck it up, princess. (Wherever she got that at.)

Anyways, I size it up and the fan will fit in the kitchen window just perfect. But it’s so hot in the kitchen, and Minnie’s bakin’ stuff is everywhere, so I decide I’ll have to install the fan from the outside.

So I pop the screen off and fit the fan in the open window, but when I go to screw it in place, I notice – holy cripes – there’s so much dust and cat hair all over the back of the fan that I have to root around the edges with my finger a bit before I can even find the screw holes.

But I find the damn things, and I get ‘er all in place. So I go back inside and step around Minnie while I jiggle the fan to make it fits under the lip of the window a bit better. Then I unplug her beaters and stick the fan’s plug in so I can try ‘er out.

Minnie just finished puttin’ the icing on the third pan of brownies and was checkin’ on her cookies in the oven. Get away from my egg beaters, she says.

Why’d they get rid of this anyway? I said to her.

Because they got an air conditioner for their window, so they don’t need it anymore.

Where’d they get the money for that? I said to her, just as I pressed the button and the blades started to spin.

Then – WHOOSH – a great big cloud of grey dust and cat hair poofed out of the fan and went all over me and Minnie and her three pans of brownies.

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