Saturday, December 10, 2011

The Week the Generator Died 2

Back at the trailer, Quantum says he'll go to our neighbor M's house and use his phone. That's a half mile or more in the other direction. Again uphill. But at least M should have a phone that works. I crawl under the blankets with the puppies and shiver and wait. 

Shortly before dark, Quantum drags the door open and stands frozen in the doorway. His face is gray and he's shivering and can't seem to move. I ask what's wrong, but he can't even talk. I get him inside, take off his boots and get him under the covers. He's vomiting (he has a sinus problem that makes this not entirely unusual, but it's still scary) he's shivering, he can't seem to get warm. A few times he seems to pass out.

I'm frantic. I go out and find the battery he brought back (it took me a half hour to get him to tell me that he got one) about 50 yards down the driveway. I hook it to the generator (since our last experiments suggest that the other battery just wasn't enough to crank it). No luck. After about twenty minutes of trying to crank it, it finally starts, but the outlet still isn't giving us any power. I haul it into the truck and try starting that. The damn thing is maybe 50 lbs and I can barely lift it.

Now I'm no mechanic, and I don't know a lot about cars. Especially newer cars. My old Harley and my VW I could work on a bit. This piece of junk I'm clueless. Plus I'm phobic about batteries - too many stories of them exploding. I can't figure out which way to put the battery in, and the connection on the positive side isn't going on (it's some Jerry-rigged hoop of copper instead of the usual connector) and then the keys won't work. I finally realize I don't even have the right keys. Quantum rouses long enough to scream at me about where the keys are and what kind of idiot am I that I can't find them. The fact that normally calm Quantum is raving is enough to freak me out, but at least screaming = alive. As it turns out the keys are NOT in the normal place. Meanwhile he goes silent again and I'm terrified he's passed out again. I HAVE to get some heat going for him. Did I mention the truck also has some weird "start button" instead of cranking via the key? In the 7 months we've owned the piece of junk I've only driven it once and am having trouble gettign it started.

It's probably only about 7 or 8 by now, but it's dark and the quarter moon is shining. I'm really scared because it seems like Quantum is going in and out of consciousness. Later he'll say he just didn't want to talk to me anymore, and was tired and wanted to be left alone so he stopped talking to me. I still have my doubts. 

I can't find a good flashlight (I'd need a flashlight to find one) but I set off across the fields to M's place. It's freezing cold, but now I've got adrenaline on my side. I make it up there and call RY, completely frantic. "I can't figure out how to get the truck going, it won't crank over. Quantum's vomiting and going in and out of consciousness. I need to get some heat goiing."

RY says he can't do much but he'll send out the snow patrol. (He's a fireman, btw). I tell him we don't need the cops, we just need some way of making heat happen. I ask him to help diagnose the truck problem and he suggests its a bad battery connection. I tell him please don't send out the cops but he isn't listening anymore. "Well that's dangerous," he says regarding the potential that Quant is going in and out of consciousness. I know Quantum isn't going to want to leave the trailer. We have two yaks, two cats and two dogs to take care of. RY doesn't seem to hear. I tell him, "look I just need help jumping the truck, then we can have heat." Finally I beg him to at least give me an hour. "If I can get the truck started I can hook up the internet and I'll let you know we're okay."

As I'm leaving, M drags me into the garage and hands me a box. "It's a propane heater," he says. "I just bought it. You got propane at home?" He helps me strap the box around my back with a bit of string. At least it's light. Meanwhile I'm losing precious time from how long I told RY I'd be back. I head for home. the rigged harness holding the box last for about 5 minutes then proceed to unwind and trip me. All the while I'm conjuring visions of hungry cougars lurking in the brush.

Back home, Quantum is semi-conscious and completely pissy.  "I can't get the connections on the battery right," I tell him, after making another attempt. "Either help me or RY will be here with the cops any minute." Quant doesn't want to help and eventually I give up trying to start the truck. He won't even try hooking up the propane heater, he just wants to sleep.

Sure enough the cops arrive. From what Quant tells me later, it's the one cop in town that everyone hates and nobody can deal with. (The others are pretty cool.) The dogs take an instant dislike and are barking and lunging at him. Don't ask me why, my dogs love just about everybody, but not this guy. I'm scared he's going to shoot them. Quantum unbundles from the blankets, finds his boots and goes outside to talk to said dickhead. RY is also outside but for some reason won't come to the door.

Well not only are they completely useless, but the Hum-V the cop is driving is 24 volt and can't jump the truck. Meanwhile they have a freaking ambulance down at the bottom of the road and a heli-vac on standby. What part of "all I need is to get the heater going" are people not getting? Quantum comes back in, they go away and Quant is ripping mad.

About 8 the next morning there's a banging on the door and it's M from next door. He's worried about us all night and he's here to set up the propane heater. He's a complete godsend. For the first time in two days we have warmth. It's Sunday, so everything in town is closed, and we can't do much about anything. Tomorrow we'll try to get a new battery since the one RY sent over didn't work. We try messing with the wiring on the generator, but that goes nowhere. We find a couple of board games in CK's old trailer and play Cat-opoly for the rest of the day, Quantum plays for himself and the dogs, I play for me and the cats. The dogs seem to be winning by the time it's dark.

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