New story excerpt: “Recovery”

This excerpt is from a story begun yesterday—for Nasstywrimo—that is still unfinished. Wrote about two thousand words and then stalled. Then dreamed up an ending, and will be getting back to work on this today. For the sake of wanting to have some of these stories published eventually, I can provide only an excerpt.

Buried backflow preventer

A plumber from West Seattle found a hidden cache of human bones on a property he was working on. Originally thought to be the work of a mass murderer, Seattle police have since ruled out homicide—at least any time in the last twenty thousand years.

The bones belonged to some of the earliest humans known to have crossed the Bering Strait into North America. The Bering Strait, a body of water that separates the North American and Asian landmasses, is widely believed to have been dry during the last ice age, when much of the water was frozen, and therefore traversable on foot. Archaeologists have previously held that the first major human crossing from Asia over the land bridge occurred about 12,000 years ago. The new discovery, if confirmed, would drastically alter our understanding of human history on the continent.
Seattle Times, June 17, 2008

Roscoe scowled at the dry chill. He massaged his knuckles as the engine warmed on his , and lit a cigarette, Marlboro Lights, hard pack. He had three jobs today, one nearby in West Seattle, one out in Renton, and another all the way the fuck up in Bothell. And it was President’s Day, so Philip was out of school and had to come along.

Philip was a good helper, most days. He handled the tools well for someone who hadn’t fully grown into his shoes, and had a keen eye for spotting hidden backflow assemblies. They can be hard to find sometimes.

Normally a property owner gets the call from their water supplier and has no idea what to do. A lot of the time they don’t even know what a backflow assembly is. In commercial lots they’re easy to find: those giant snaking pipes full of wheels and gauges sticking out of some island at the edge of the parking lot. Most residential owners don’t realize they got them, too. Sometimes they’re outdoors, sometimes in the basement or crawl space. They do what it sounds like: they prevent backflow of contaminated groundwater from entering the drinking supply. They always look different. Some got steel, others alloy piping combined with PVC. There’s always the two main valves, usually steel, that stick straight up or out toward you or else lean at an angle like they’re sagging. Sometimes they’ve been jury-rigged by some idiot plumber, and sometimes the owner has ignored the inspection notices so long that it’s all Roscoe could do to show up, hand them a fail slip and an estimate for repair and hope they didn’t tear it up on the spot. Those people always got what was coming, Roscoe believed.