Carol Jane Remsburg
With Halloween only two weeks away, my thoughts cannot help but drift toward the bloodthirsty. This is the time for jack-o’-lanterns, ghosts, goblins, crunchy leaves underfoot, and scary stories. I have to admit as far as holidays go, Halloween ranks second only after Christmas. This immediately brings to mind the most bloodthirsty of folks, my dad, not in the way that you might imagine. It was just that his blood was a magic potion of sorts. Oh well, that tears it, I’m going to have to explain this one.
My dad was a professional heating, air conditioning, and refrigeration man. To most in his field he was a wizard, he could fix things that stumped the rest. His sorcery wasn’t limited to furnaces and their ilk. If the piece was mechanized, he could repair it. Repairs required quiet, sweat, the odd curse word or two, and nearly always the loss of blood. It only took a drop or two, gushers weren’t necessary. Daddy’s blood was so potent that the Chinese black-market would have it priced right up there with white rhino horn or bear gall bladder.
The reason that I know this secret and so many others do not, is simply because I became Daddy’s shadow from the time I could walk. Being the last child, spoiled, and into everything, my exasperated mother shuffled me off with Daddy to keep me out of trouble and underfoot. I thought my father was God or the closest approximation of. It didn’t take me very long to figure out what his secret was. While I was still a kid, I tried it a time or two myself, but bloodletting doesn’t work for me. The nick and the “ouch” must come naturally, an accident of sorts.
Calls came in from far and near for Daddy’s attention. Like as not, it was dark and the weather was foul. This cycle knew no seasonal respite, much to Mother’s dismay. The phone would ring and Mom would frown. The calls normally began even before Daddy came home from work or just when we were sitting down to dinner.
I remember when I was nine years-old I received my dearest wish from Santa, a cassette tape player/recorder. I broke it within two days. Tearfully I offered it to Daddy to fix knowing full well he would. He had to dismantle it nearly completely, then a shuffle happened, a sharp edge caught his finger letting some of that precious stuff drop inside the housing. Within a few moments the machine was back together. It’s been playing for nearly 30 years now. It’s inexhaustible.
Often Daddy’s alchemy applied itself to cars, electrical appliances of every design, lawn mowers, and the like. Physics was his real specialty, but as I’ve grown older I wonder if it wasn’t something a little more. He could tame those hideous warehouse-sized Trane units down at NASA and make them purr as easily as he could reign in a recalcitrant refrigerator. Nothing intimidated him. With his perpetual sad eyes and a deep sigh, he would doggedly forge ahead. What would take the mere mortal a millennium, took him moments.
He was fascinating to watch. Often, I would be excused to play outdoors from the work location, but I would lurk in a dark corner to watch. Baffled by all the metalwork’s, gears, and gases, it was Daddy that I focused on. Behind that soft, placid gaze, his own gears were spinning; focused and intent. His tools were heavy and arcane though his touch was light and sure. He smelled intoxicatingly of Old Spice and refrigerant, still something that sends me around the bend.
Many years have passed and so has Daddy. Although his special magic is but a memory, all who knew him remember it. Those dancing devilish eyes humoring the rest of us treading along softly, sweetly, before the inevitable, “Ouch, Dammit!” Too bad some of that magic stuff didn’t filter through the legacy of the gene pool. I had to marry another of those one-in-a-million warlock types that can repair my can-opener when it locks up. That scent of Old Spice didn’t hurt his appeal either.