Zim had quite the battle with the barrelsPublished 9:42am Wednesday, June 19, 2013
Column: Tales From Exit 22, by Al Batt
Some days, you can’t win and you might lose.
The roast had started on fire while he was cooking it.
Zim had to put it out with the soup.
Zim decided to skip dinner and get some work done. He missed an occasional meal. He was skinny. When he was a boy, they called him Slim Zim. He smoked. Rolled his own cigarettes. He didn’t need the exercise, but he enjoyed the process.
His real name was Zim, but everyone called him Zim. He was a good man. He always chased wayward cows home to the proper farm — practicing the fine art of regifting.
Oh, Zim had his peculiarities. His whiskers grew inward. He never had to shave. He just chewed them off. A doctor told Zim that cracking his knuckles didn’t cause arthritis, so he cracked them constantly in church. He claimed that the only thing on his bucket list was a visit to Kansas City, Mont. No one had the heart to tell him to look for that city in Missouri.
Zim farmed with his older sister and her husband. They lived a half-mile away. His sister had been after him constantly to fix the windmill. It clanked when it should have squeaked. If a man says he’s going to do something, he will. He doesn’t need to be reminded about it every six months.
Zim climbed to the top of the windmill and repaired it in no time flat. It gave him the hiccups. Upon completion of the work, Zim found he had quite a pile of tools and old parts to take to the shed. Rather than carry all that stuff down by hand, Zim decided to lower it all in a barrel by using a pulley attached to the top of the windmill.
Zim secured a rope at ground level, climbed back up the windmill and loaded the things into the barrel. Then he hurried down and untied the rope, holding it tightly to ensure a slow descent of the heavy barrel. Zim was thin, not weighing many times his birth rate. Zim was surprised to discover that the barrel and its contents far outweighed him. He was jerked off the ground, causing him to lose his presence of mind and to forget to let go of the rope. Zim proceeded at a rapid rate up the side of the windmill.
On his way up, Zim met the barrel which was headed downward at an impressive speed. A nasty collision ensued.
Slowed only slightly, Zim continued his rapid ascent, not stopping until the fingers of his right hand were deep into the pulley. By this time Zim had come to his senses and was able to hold tightly to the rope in spite of the excruciating pain.
The barrel hit the ground and the bottom was knocked from it. Now devoid of the weight of its contents, the barrel weighed less than Zim.
Zim began a rapid descent down the side of the windmill. You would have done the same. He met the barrel coming up. The meeting did Zim no good. Zim hit the ground, landing on the pile of objects that had once been in the barrel.
As Zim laid there in pain, unable to move and watching the empty barrel far above him, he had a weak moment and released his grip on the rope. The barrel fell on Zim.
That cured his hiccups. Permanently.
As his brother-in-law said sadly, “Well, at least Zim was wearing clean underwear.”
The day of the funeral was fair. It was well attended. The church’s old pastor, who had just retired, performed the service.
The new preacher, inexperienced and at his first church, was to hold the graveside burial service at the cemetery. Not knowing exactly where the cemetery was, he’d made several wrong turns and became lost. When he finally arrived, he was an hour late. The hearse was nowhere in sight and the mourners had left, but a backhoe was next to an open hole and the workmen were sitting under a tree having lunch.
The diligent young pastor went to the open grave and found the vault lid already in place. Feeling guilty because of his tardiness, he preached an impassioned and lengthy service, sending the deceased to the great beyond in style.
As he walked to his car, the pastor overheard one of the workmen say to another, “I’ve been doing this job for over 20 years and those were the nicest words I’ve ever heard said over a new septic tank.”
Hartland resident Al Batt’s columns appear every Wednesday and Sunday.