A Proper Foundation
He wanted to hit Robins with a hammer and crush his skull in. Don wanted to kill that crook. Robins leased him a house that was barely livable. When a man gets cheated like that he wants to fix things. But killing one landlord would hardly be sufficient and Don knew that. The problem with the house was so bad he would have to kill a whole heap of landlords before he'd be satisfied.
The house had started sinking into the mud. It leaned because of it. The floors inside the house were mountain trails and the kitchen was like a linoleum carnival ride. Every time it rained the house sank deeper. And the floors got worse.
Don needed professional help to fix something like this. You had to have special equipment. He called around and found a place. A husky man named Jones came by with his workman. They spent a whole day jacking up the back of the house.
But Jones Construction wasn't big enough to finish the job. There was only Mr. Jones and that lanky teenager. Don needed a whole new foundation in the back of the house and just the two of them weren't nearly enough. He called a few more places and contacted a bigger company. You had to have plenty of bodies for a project like this.
At first it looked like Midwest Contracting was the right answer. Four workers came out and Don thought they would be enough to finish the foundation. But he was disappointed again. And it was frustrating, the foundation was almost done and Midwest Contracting refused to send out any more men. Apparently they had too many other jobs going on to worry about Don's house.
The entire situation had Don tied up in knots. He couldn't leave the foundation unfinished. The house was still jacked up and if it rained the jack might slip. If that happened the unfinished foundation would probably be ruined and he'd be back to square one.
But then Don caught a lucky break. He had just gotten off the phone with Midwest Contracting after yelling at them for fifteen minutes, when who should show up but a cantankerous old landlord with white scraps for hair and deep grooves etched around his bulbous nose. Mr. Robins might look like a victim in a horror story, but Don was mighty glad to see him. Here was the man responsible for this whole mess. Don was going to insist that Robins help him finish that foundation.
But Mr. Robins was having none of it. He perched on a kitchen chair and declared, “This house is fine. There's nothing wrong with this house.”
“It leans,” Don snapped back. “I can't walk on the floors it leans so much.”
The old man stamped his foot. “These floors are fine.”
Don countered, “That's because it's jacked up right now. Most of the foundation is already there and I have to get it finished. If that jack slips the entire house will fall back where it was. Don't you understand?”
“I understand this. It's your house for another six months. You're responsible for upkeep and you do the repairs.”
“Not something like this,” Don argued. “You have to help me finish that foundation.”
Robins folded his arms and said defiantly, “I won't do it!”
It was useless arguing with the old man. Don had had enough of this. He sprang from the chair and snatched his hammer off the counter. He slammed the hammer down with a hard swing and crushed the old man's skull. Mr. Robins slumped over the table.
Don dragged the body outside. He heaved it up to the top of the pile but it wouldn't fit. The space between the other bodies and the house was too small. Flinging the old man's corpse away, he studied the situation.
It wasn't going to work. The six bodies of the construction workers Don had cemented together were stacked too high. There was only a small gap between the foundation of corpses and the bottom of the house. It was too small a space for Robins' body. Don traipsed back into the house feeling dejected.
He had no idea what he was going to do now. The sky was gray and it looked like it might rain at any moment. Don had to get that foundation finished. He pawed through the phone book, searching desperately for another contracting firm. Slamming the book closed, he slumped onto a chair. There was really no use calling anyone else. Even if they got someone out in time the workman would be too thick to finish the foundation.
The doorbell rang. Don almost didn't answer it. But it kept on ringing so he dragged himself to the door. There was a boy of about thirteen out there on the stoop. Don didn't know who he was and he asked, “May I help you?”
The boy swiped the blonde hair away from his eyes and offered a little smile. “I wonder if you might need any help, sir. I can do yard work or anything you want.”
“Have you ever done any construction work?” Don asked. “I have a project I'm trying to get finished.”
“No.” The boy shook his head. “But I'm willing to learn. I'll try and do a good job.”
Don studied the boy for a few seconds. He was thin, and not too thin. “I'm sure you'll do just fine,” he said with a smile. “Wait here. I'll go get my hammer.”
Issue #6 CONTENTS
MAKE DO AND MAKE MEND
STORM CLOUD RAIN, GRAVEYARD DIRT
THE BLUE BOY
MURDER AND CRUELTY FREE
S Van Sickel
A PROPER FOUNDATION