When Scott and Buddy delivered our new washer and dryer, they pulled their white delivery truck right up to the tippy top of our driveway and stopped, front wheels perched over the grassy sideyard. Watching from the window, I noticed neither of them got out of the cab. They sat there. A little gas or oil dripped from the underside of the truck, making a sheen on the concrete, and I was momentarily distracted by the thought of a fiery ball of flame as the truck blew, ignited by a spark. Someone was smoking inside, but it was too hazy to see.
I opened the door and stepped out on the porch. "Hey, come on in." I waved. I walked about halfway to the cab on the truck. "You can come on in."
The window cracked just a sliver, about a tongue's breadth, and Scott said "Is that yor dog?" He pointed toward the backyard where my German Shepherd, Jake, stood, fully extended, paws casually draped over the fence, tongue out, face lit up.
"Yeah. She's harmless. She likes people."
Buddy leaned forward. "Do he bite?" His eyes were wide.
"Nah, he don't bite" I had lapsed into the vernacular. "I mean, she won't bite you. Might lick you, but she won't bite.'"
Scott and Buddy sat there. Smoke curled from the cracked window.
"He got teeth, don't he?," said Buddy. Jake was smiling at Scott and Buddy, quivering with excitement. She let out a welp of impatience.
"Put yor dog up or we ain't getting out." Scott cranked the window up. They sat there. The substance continued to drip from the truck, pooling on the driveway. The motor ticked like motors tick when they're settling into a new place.
"Really, she's OK. Don't worry about her." I said "don't worry about her," raising my voice a tad. The window creaked open.
"Ain't coming. Put the dog up."
"Hang on." I walked around the truck and went over to Jake, who by this time was trying to crawl over the fence, barking and pawing at the wood fence boards.
"Jake! Jake! Calm down, girl, calm down." She plopped down. I unlatched the gate, grabbed her by the collar, picked up some rope I kept by the gate for times like this. I dragged her over to a small maple tree in the center of the back yard. She tugged at the rope. Resolute, stiffened paws dug into the soft earth where the grass had given up due to Jake's constant treading.
"Don't look back there, Jake. You can't play with them. Sit down. Behave yourself." I gave her a bone to play with. She didn't sit. Didn't want the bone. She strained at the rope and whimpered. I walked back to the gate, latched it, and went up to the window where Scott sat. The widow creaked down, this time wider.
"Yeah, I tied her up. You guys come on out. Don't worry about Jake."
The door opened and a hulking man dropped from the cab to the driveway. "I'm Scott," he said, "and that there's Billy." Billy came around the back of the truck at that point. It looked like he weighed about 275, broad shouldered with a stomach wrapped in a white t-shirt lapping over green army dungarees secured by a rope belt. I'd never seen a rope used for a belt and mused on why anyone would do such a thing until he spoke.
"Billy," he said. He extended his hand.
I was amused by the sight of lanky Scott and sumo-wrestler Billy, but I snapped out of it quickly.
"I'm glad you guys showed up so soon. I need you to get the washer and dryer in the house and hooked up before my wife returns. It's her Christmas present. I want to surprise her."
Billy popped the latch on the trailer and the door rolled up with snap. A blast of air rolled out that smelled like oil and cardboard and pizza. . . pizza? I sniffed.
"Yeah, sorry, Billy and I had a little lunch before we came."
"Hey, no problem."
"Scott, I can't tote that washer."
"Get the hand truck, stupid. . . . oh, sorry Mr. . . Mr. Woglenaut. Woglenaut?"
"German. Polish. Something, I don't know. Just call me Rob."
"Mr. Rob, where we headin' with this thing?"
"Right in the front door."
Scott unlatched and extended the ramp from the back of the trailer. Billy lumbered up the ramp and bent over. I looked away, suddenly very interested in the gutters on my house.
"Jeez, Billy, get some suspenders, will ya?," Scott said. "You can see China from here." Scott hacked and spit on the driveway. On my driveway. I turned around and noted that Billy had repositioned himself, now had the hand truck belt wrapped around the washer. He began to back it down the ramp, as Scott watched. Maybe it was my imagination, but the ramp seemed to buckle a bit, straining under the weight. Once down, he dragged it toward the front door.
"Hang on, let me get the door." I ran around Billy, up the front steps, and opened the door. By this time, Scott was pulling on the handles of the hand truck, backing up the steps, while Billy pushed. I heard a sound from the back door. Jake! I went to the back door. Jake had broken the rope, was scratching at the back door window, barking and throwing himself against the door. I opened the door, intent on grabbing his collar and then retying him to the tree before Scott or Billy noticed.
But Jake would have none of it. He bounded through the door, knocked me to the floor, and ran toward the front door where Scott was just cresting the top step. On the way, what was left of his chain caught on the carefully-decorated Christmas tree we had set in the den. Down when the tree! Ornaments burst and rolled across the floor. It all excited Jake. He kept going, making a beeline for the front door.
Just then, Scott looked around. "What the. . .?" He dropped the washer. Billy rolled to the side, his fall cushioned by a bed of pine straw. The washer thudded down the steps, began rolling down the hill towards the street. Pulling the entire Christmas tree, the stand screeching across our hardwood floor, Jake ran out the front door, leaped from the front step, and was caught in mid-air by the tree --- which had lodged in the front door. He fell back.
Scott was in the cab of the truck. The window cracked. "Hey, Billy, get in here." Billy sloshed toward the truck, Jake barking and straining at the leash, bound by the tree.
"Hey, come on back, you guys. I'll put Jake up."
The truck fired. Scott backed it down the driveway, narrowly missing the fire hydrant at the street. Jake continued to bark. Blocked by the tree, I went around to the side door. By the time I opened it, the truck was gone. The washer had rolled down the hill, still on the hand-truck, lodged in some azaleas in the natural area. I walked over to where the truck had been parked. A greasy spot remained. I looked up just in time to see my wife's car pull into our driveway.