Monday, January 25, 2010


I brought home this contraption from storage a few weeks ago and put it in the garage. It was made of metal and kind of looked like a giant slingshot, or some kind of torture device.
I forgot all about it until about a week ago, when I lugged it into the living room and asked my husband what it was. The expression on his face showed no sign of recognition.
Finally, he said, "I think it's a skeet launcher. You know, one of those things that launches clay pigeons into the air so you can shoot them?"
"What was it doing in our storage unit?"
"I've had it for years," he said, "from way back when Mike lived across the street and we used to go shooting."
"Well, Mike hasn't lived across the street since Nixon was president," I said. "This thing must be an antique by now. Can I sell it on Ebay?"
He shrugged. "Sure. It's been so many years since I've shot a gun, I'd probably be as bad as you are at hitting anything anyway."
He never was going to let me live down that one time, back when we were first married, when we went target practicing together in some sandpit out in the boonies. He'd set up a target against a tall mound of sand and then handed me a .22 pistol.
I shot the gun several times, assuming my best Annie Oakley stance. Not only did I miss the target, I actually shot a branch off a nearby tree.
"Stop!" my husband had shouted at me. "Squirrels are scampering for their lives!"
Needless to say, he never invited me to go skeet shooting with him and Mike. He probably feared I'd be a threat to low-flying aircraft.
"I have a couple full boxes of clay pigeons in storage somewhere, too," my husband's voice brought me back to the present. "If you can find those, you can sell them with the skeet launcher and get more money – you know, like a package deal."
So the next day, I tore through the storage shed, searching for the boxes of clay pigeons. I found them buried underneath some of the world's heaviest boxes. After I moved those, and several of my vertebrae, I lifted one of the boxes of skeet. Noises like corn popping came from my back. Even worse, the minute I stepped outside the storage shed, the bottom fell out of the soggy old box and all of the clay pigeons went crashing to the ground.
I finally found all of the pieces, which wasn't easy in the snow, and loaded both boxes into my car, then headed home.
During the drive home, I noticed that every time I made a wide right-hand turn (not a sharp one) my car made a loud, grinding sound.
"That can't be good," I said out loud, imagining all sorts of terrible things that could be causing the grinding noise…from the wheels being loose to the axle breaking in half. I found myself trying to mentally map out a route home that would be all left turns.
When I finally pulled into our garage, I grabbed a flashlight and checked the underside of my car, as if I actually had a clue what I was looking for. Unless I spotted something blatantly obvious under there, like a screwdriver rammed into the tire or a dead body wedged up under the axle, I'd have no idea if something looked out of place.
I opened the car door on the passenger's side and checked everything there. That's when I spotted a big spring lying on the floor under the dashboard. Panicking, I picked it up and rushed inside to show my husband.
"I have no idea what it is," he said. "Was it lying on the ground under the car?"
"No, it was inside on the floor, under the dashboard on the passenger's side. And my car was making a terrible scraping noise all the way home."
He looked thoughtful for a moment as he more closely examined the spring. "There's nothing under the dash that would use something this big. But just to be safe, show it to Elias (our mechanic)."
I made an appointment to have my car checked out. When I dropped it off, I showed the spring to Elias. "I found this under my dashboard. Is it some major part my car needs?"
He looked at the spring and shook his head. "You'd be in a lot of trouble if was! This isn't anything that came from your car." He set it down and I didn't reach for it. I figured if I didn't need it, then he may as well get rid of it for me. For all I knew, it could have been lying on the floor of my car for years. I mean, I never look down there.
The scraping noise in my car turned out to be the front brakes, which urgently needed to be replaced.
"Well," I said to my husband when I later got home with my freshly repaired car, "I'm definitely going to put the skeet launcher and the boxes of clay pigeons on Ebay. I'm broke after paying for my car. Every penny will help!"
I went out to the garage and carried the monstrosity of a launcher inside so I could photograph it for the auction. "How does this thing work anyway?" I asked my husband.
He came over to examine it. "You put the skeet here," he said, "then you have this cord you pull back to release the tension on the…"
He stopped talking and suddenly looked a shade whiter.
"Release the tension on what?" I asked.
"The spring," he said.
I looked at the machine. "I don't see any spring."
My mouth fell open and my eyes widened as reality struck me. "The spring I gave to Elias? Was that the spring?"
He nodded. "It must have fallen off the launcher back when you brought it home from storage."
The next morning, I called Elias and asked him what he did with the spring.
"I threw it out," he said. "Why?"
"We found out where it goes! And now we desperately need it for my husband's skeet launcher."
"Skeet launcher?" he said, his tone teasing. "Are you sure it's not for something else? Something kinky?"
You wouldn't believe the visions that went through my head when he said that. I burst out laughing.
"I'll dig through the trash later and see if I can find it," he said.
Even if Elias does find the spring, my husband's not even sure how to put it back where it belongs on the launcher.
I guess it doesn't really matter anyway. I checked the clay pigeons that fell in the snow and most of them look more like…well, pigeon feed.