Big Billy – Runnin’ on empties

I blame the dog. He’s way too excited about his orange tennis ball, and that’s what got me into this mess.

A few weeks ago, Minnie seen the case of empty beer bottles sittin’ next to the back door Big BIllyand said, Take them out to the baby barn the next time you’re goin’.

Yes dear, I says. Let’s face it, we’re well into the hockey playoffs now, and that means empty cases of beer bottles just seem to pop up out of nowhere around our place. So when I piled a second empty case on top of the first one, it didn’t take her long to notice.

What are them bottles still doin’ there? she said. How come ya didn’t take them out yet?

Now, the real answer is, you can’t open the door to the baby barn without an avalanche of empty pop bottles, juice containers and beer bottles fallin’ out on your head. Of course, Minnie don’t know that or she’d be after me somethin’ awful to take them back to the recyclin’ place. And normally, I’m all for that because I pocket whatever money I get from the returns.

But there comes a point after I let it go as long as I have that there’s so much to return ya risk gettin’ yelled at for not returnin’ them earlier. Plus, if Minnie sees there’s serious money to be made on a bottle return run, she’ll start thinkin’ to herself how she can put that money toward groceries or furnace oil or somethin’ – and let’s face it, when you’re tryin’ to watch playoff hockey every night of the week, every little bit of money you can squirrel away for beer certainly helps.

How’d we get so many bottles? The fact is, me and Minnie and both of the kids go through pop like it’s goin’ out of style. It’s nothin’ for us to kill two two-litre bottles in the run of a day. So at that rate, if you go for a month or two without takin’ your returns back, it adds up pretty quick, especially if you add a case or two of beer each week when the playoffs start.

Never even thought of it! I said, when Minnie asked me why the empties were still in the kitchen. Next time I go out, I’ll grab them for sure.

And I did. Only problem was, when I opened the barn door enough to get a peek inside, it was clear there was no room in there to put anything else. I had to put my arm up to keep the pop bottles from spillin’ out all over the back yard, and even still a few of them managed to fall out of the bag and bounce off my boot.

Now I know I coulda said – OK, I guess it’s time to finally return these bottles. But the thing is, I’m kinda lazy. I don’t mind sayin’ it. It’s a whole lot of work to load the truck up, drive to the recyclin’ place and unload the bottles, and I just didn’t feel like it right at that moment. So what I did was, I went around the side of the baby barn and stuck the two boxes of empties under the piece of blue tarp I got coverin’ the summer tires. I put each case right down inside the hole in the tire, and I was some pleased with myself.

About a week later, when I had two more cases of beer and a bag of empty pop bottles to take back out, I stuck the two cases down in the other two tires and shoved the bag of bottles in under the tarp behind them. A week after that, I had two more bags of pop bottles to take out and I managed to just barely get them under the tarp.

By then I knew I had to finally take the recyclables back, but Minnie was home every day that week and I didn’t want her to catch me doin’ it, especially since it was now gonna take two trips. So one night after supper when she finally said her and Joan were gonna head to the store the next morning, I thought – Aha! There’s my chance.

And that’s when our dog Smiley Bates came over and dropped his orange tennis ball at my feet while we were havin’ our tea.

Oh, Minnie said. You poor little fella. Them kids are always out with their friends and nobody takes you outside to play anymore, do they?

I seen my chance to get some brownie points with Minnie, so I grabbed the little guy’s ball, put my boots on and ran outside with him.

Go get ‘er, buddy! I said, and I whiffed the tennis ball. Holy cripes, he went mental chasin’ after it. His legs spun around like egg beaters and he goes so fast he overshoots the ball and has to come back for it. Minnie comes out on the step, watchin’ and laughin’ at us.

Watch this one here! I said, and tried to throw the ball all the way into Ol’ Fishcakes’s yard behind our house on the next street. But the ball hit the clothesline pole and shot over toward the baby barn.

Uh-oh, I thought. Sure enough, Smiley Bates goes flyin’ after it, sails right over it and crashes into the blue tarp. There’s a bit of an explosion as the pop bottles fly out everywhere and the beer bottles clank around inside the tires.

I look back at Minnie to explain, but she’s already headed for the barn door with this look on her face like – I’m gonna get to the bottom of this, buddy.

When she opened the door and all the bottles fell on her head and it was like magic – *poof* $40 worth of beer money turned into $40 worth of grocery money just like that.

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