One evening, about a week after the plum tree/creosote/bomb incident, my father rolled a very large empty oil drum down to the bottom of the garden. He rolled it noisily down the path, right to the end of the garden, rolled it in a sharp left turn, then stopped and stood it up so that it was screened by the lilac bushes.
I got up and wandered down the garden, followed by my brother. As I got nearer, I could see that my father was putting some bricks on the ground, arranging them in a roughly square symmetrical pattern. Intrigued, I stood back and watched, not sure what was going on. I didn’t really know what I was seeing – was it some obscure pagan ritual; a valiant attempt to contact alien life forms; my dad’s workaday version of Stonehenge, or something so obscure that it hadn’t been heard of by anyone other than my father? As my dad stood up – all of the bricks now obviously in their rightful positions – I had a feeling that I was about to find out.
– What’s he doing? my brother whispered.
– I don’t know yet, I answered. Let’s wait and see.
– Okay, my brother said, cheerfully enough.
And so we waited, watching carefully and quietly as our dad stood the empty oil drum on the bricks. Then he knelt down on the ground, picked up a hammer and a metal chisel and proceeded to knock holes in the side of the oil drum, about four inches up from the bottom. He made a hole, then moved the chisel a few inches to the left and made another hole, then repeated the process and made another hole, working his way around the oil drum until there were several holes all the way around its base.
– He’s making air-holes.
– What for?
– So an animal can breathe in there.
– What animal?
– Whatever animals like oil.
– Oil lamps.
– Oil lamps aren’t animals.
– No, but they like oil and they need air-holes.
– You’re an air-hole.
We would have started trading insults at that point, but our father stood up abruptly, looked over at us, and asked what we were doing. Read more…
My Father’s Garden: Incinerator
Copyright © R J Dent 2014
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