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The Fence

The Fence

A windstorm blew through some time ago.

Two sections of our back fence came down – screws ripped right out of the wood. The post in the center, though solidly set in cement at the appropriate depth, had rotted clean through. Hence, the culprit gust of wind had successfully twisted and shorn the post in twain.

As a result, two adjacent sections of our fence, up to that time joined (rather solidly, I surmised) by the soon-to-be shorn-in-twain post, lay flat on the ground, leaving a gaping hole in our otherwise secure fence line. A pair of stock cars could have driven side-by-side through the opening; hence, in this present condition the three canines which shared our abode could – and would – wander freely from their standard confines.

A certain lack of appropriate materials being needed to affect permanent repairs meant that the fix this early morning would amount only to what was necessary and sufficient to keep our dogs from roaming the neighborhood that day, I imagine in a pack of sorts. Nails which were clearly not up to the task, screws designed for some purpose which only a master carpenter might know, a short section of twine (string or twine – what the heck’s the difference?), a roll of mesh tape (you know the kind: for doing plaster repairs), and a few short sections of 2×4 boards were neither technically, nor by anyone’s non-technical standards, the materials needed for the task.

I did, however, have a grand tool – a high quality, tempered steel hammer (Craftsman, I believe), with only a slight bit of rust on the handle.

These would all have to suffice to accomplish the job in the short time available. After all, “time is money,” as they say, and as a pretty important guy, my time, I would like to think, is worth a little more money than most others’. Besides: my part of the matrimonial deal is to bring in the money that somehow always manages to get spent. I’m the bread-winner – I’ve never been quite sure what that overly clich├ęd term means – and not the baker; certainly not the fix-it guy!

Now, being the rational man, I assumed that a simple “straight-line” wind gust, as all the weather anchors called it, would have resulted in the cross boards for the downed fence sections remaining in something resembling a “straight line.” Oh, the pitfalls of rational thought. I leaned the sections up where they should have simply fallen into place, and was met by a gap on one side about the length of what I imagine a thoroughbred horse would be.

I first nailed one end of the fallen fence sections to the decent wood remaining in a standing post on one end (to be honest, I was amazed at how a quality hammer could eventually drive those mystery screws through the 2×4 cross board and into that bloody post), I used the fullness of all my might, along with the forty extra pounds I carry, to force that other end of the joined fence sections to the other standing post, forming a sort of roman arch laying tipped on its side.

I mean, the Romans knew what they were doing when it came to engineering and architecture…Before I could finish the thought; the screws I had expertly driven into the first post began separating from said post, with one even flying off with the velocity of a bullet. I can’t swear to it (and I won’t in a court of law), but I think I actually heard a ricochet somewhere in the distance.

So now, with the gentle encouragement of my wife, I did what I had intended all along (no, really!), which was to wedge the broken post just over its former position and attempt to nail it in place using what resembled six-inch spikes – I think they were also invented by the Romans, but that’s a different story. Nails are great hardware when you have good wood to work with. They generally suck when it comes to rotten wood.

So that’s where the twine (string?) came into play. Using my best Boy Scout granny knots, I somehow managed to secure the tiny stump of existing post to the piece still connected to the detached section of the fence. With a few odd nails and screws precariously holding the fence in place, I began to make good use of the plasterers mesh tape. Surely it would offer enough strength for the job if wrapped around the planks of adjacent fence sections enough dozens of times. Right?

As the mesh strained and ripped under the tension roughly equivalent to an ancient catapult (again with the Romans!), I quickly used the extra 2x4s to brace the newly added, and ominously groaning, sections of fence, embedding them at roughly forty-five degree angles. To be brutally honest, I don’t know what angles the Romans would have used in this case.

To my utter amazement, the temporary measure held for the entire day. Even more amazingly still, it has temporarily held for the nine months since that wind storm, although I occasionally grow somewhat nervous when I see people, animals, or children hanging out outside those two sections of fence. And when the workers were laying cable about three feet outside the boundary, I decided it was a good time to go grocery shopping with my wife for the first time since we’ve been married.

But, the bottom line is, it has held…Those Romans had nothing on this guy! And my divorce attorney says that since I now live in an apartment where they take care of all that crap, I shouldn’t have to mess with that freaking fence again – at least once the house becomes hers free and clear.