After All The Crap We've Been Through

Dwight Davis was sitting at his desk reviewing work orders when Maggie buzzed through the intercom.

"There's a lady on Line One who insists on talking with you, Boss," Maggie let him know. "She's pretty insistent."

"Okay, put her through," Dwight replied, accustomed to people jumping the chain of command to speak to the head hauncho. He heard the click of the line. "Hello, Dwight Davis, First Step Cleaning and Restoration. How can I help you?"

"Dwight, it's Emmaly McGuire," a stressed voice said from the other end of the line.

Dwight was pretty sure it wasn't a personal call seeing how it had been more than two years since their kids ended their relationship. "Hi, Emmaly. Is something wrong?"

"I'm totally horrified, disgusted, dejected, and depressed right now," She announced.

"What happened?"

"The sewer main backed up or broke or something," Emmaly informed him. "There's two feet of shit infested water in my cellar."

"Did you turn off the water main?" Dwight needed to know.

"Sawyer's friend Randy from next door came over and did that," She said. "But now I'm at a complete loss what to do next."

"I'll be over in a minute," Dwight told her.

"This is embarrassing," she sighed.

"I'll come alone," he assured her. "I'll have to bring the plumber with me though. We contract with Issotti Plumbing."

"Just you and him," she requested.

"Hang tight," Dwight advised.

"Thanks," she said with relief. The line went dead.

Dwight sat back in his chair and he let out a sigh. The turd filled cellar wasn't that much of a big deal. First Step Cleaning and Restoration dealt with that sort of stuff all the time. Water damage, fire damage, smoke damage, mold cleanup, storm damage, biohazard clean up, sewage clean up, catastrophic response, and even crime and death scene clean up.

But it was going to be awkward seeing Emmaly again because her son Sawyer broke Dwight's daughter Catelyn's heart after three years together through most of high school.

Dwight picked up the phone and called Jay Bradshaw at Izzotti Plumbing, asking that he meet him for an emergency. He provided Jay with Emmaly's address and instructed him to wait for Dwight to arrive before going to Emmaly's door.

Dwight took the business pickup truck instead of one of the larger vans to avoid neighbor's curiosity. Unfortunately, Jay showed up in one Issotti's larger trucks which gave away most of Emmaly's privacy.

Jay was ten years older than Dwight, overweight and balding but an expert plumber. Dwight noticed that the older green one story ranch was a little bit more worn than he remembered it to be.

Emmaly opened the front door before Dwight had a chance to ring the bell and she hurried the two men inside, closing the door behind them. It was only 40 degrees out on this March day but Emmaly had all the windows open and it was hard not to notice the awful smell in the air.

"Before we can asset the damage and project the remedy, we have to see what caused the problem," Dwight explained to the haggard looking Emmaly whom he hadn't seen in quite a while.

Despite her circumstances, she looked pretty much the way he remembered her – long brown hair, a sturdy figure, and penetrating green eyes.

"Well, the bad stuff has to be removed obviously," Emmaly said desperately as they stood in the living room. "You'll pump it out, right? And disinfect everything?"

"First things first," Dwight replied. "Let us go take a look."

"We need to determine if it's your responsibility or the town's," Jay explained. "If it's your main line that broke or backed up, it's on you. If it started off your property, than the town's at fault."

"It's going to be shitty either way," Emmaly said, not intending to be funny or make a pun. "Everything down there is ruined."

"The cellar is remodeled," Dwight told Jay, remembering the few times he had been down there when Sawyer and Catelyn were dating, including a reception for their high school graduation.

"First Step does an amazing job with clean up," Jay assured Emmaly. "It might not be a total loss."

"We'll go take a look," Dwight said.

The men went back to their trucks to put on rubber suits, rubber gloves, thigh-high rubber boots, and cloth masks to cover their mouths and noses. They waddled around to the back of the house and entered through the green bulkhead into the cellar.

Emmaly waited impatiently in the kitchen for the prognosis, dreading the worse possible news. About forty-five minutes later, she noticed the two men in her backyard washing off their boots using the outside faucet. She hurried to the back door that led to the aging deck.

"Well?" She asked nervously.

"There's a drain by the washing machine so we were able to release most of the water," Jay reported.

"But there's still plenty of human waste and other exposures down there," Dwight warned.

"Roots from the trees on the side of your house grew into and clogged your line," Jay explained. "That's what caused the back up. We snaked the line for now but the roots are going to have to be removed."

"You should probably get rid of those trees too," Dwight suggested.

"There's nothing more for me to do," Jay reported. "I'll be on my way."

"Now what?" Emmaly asked Dwight once Jay had left the back yard.

"Well, we're going to have to clean up down there," Dwight replied. "Most of the furniture is a loss and the carpeting of course and we'll probably have to strip out some of the wood paneling but we should be able to salvage the washing machine and dryer and I think the bathroom will be okay."

"When can you do it?" She asked desperately.

"I'll get a crew over here this afternoon," Dwight promised. "But with the stench and waste you really shouldn't stay here," he said. "The chemicals we'll be using are going to be pretty powerful."

"Where am I supposed to go?" She frowned.

"Don't you have family?" Dwight asked.

She shook her head no. "My parents moved to Florida last year. My siblings are in different states."

"Where's Sawyer?"


"Well, maybe one of the neighbors will put you up," Dwight suggested.

"I guess," she sighed, falling into a metal chair on the deck.

"Or a motel?"

"I really can't afford a motel," she revealed. "I can't even afford all this. How much is it going to cost to dig up the yard and fix the pipe? And cut down those damn trees?"

Dwight noticed how miserable she looked and he genuinely felt sorry for her. "There's an extra bedroom in my apartment," he said. "For when Catelyn stayed over. Why don't you go over there? Have some privacy."

"I couldn't infringe on you," Emmaly said.

"Please," he said, reaching into his pocket and taking his keys out of his pocket. He removed the apartment key and stepped close to the deck stairs. "Take it," he said. "You remember where it is? You were there once or twice picking up Catelyn."

"That white apartment house on Holly Avenue?" She recalled, taking the key from him.

He nodded affirmatively. "Take an overnight bag. You might not be able to come back here until tomorrow night or maybe the next day depending on how dense a cleaning we have to do."

"I run my massage therapy business out of the house," she sighed. "I'll have to cancel two days' worth of appointments. Good thing I moved all my stuff into the spare bedroom last year or it would have been even worse."

She handed him the keys to the house and shook her head. "I really didn't need this in my life," she said as she went into the house.

Dwight took a seat on the back step of the deck and he called Maggie at the office to try to set up an emergency intervention as soon as possible.

Fifteen minutes later, Emmaly emerged from the back door with her overnight bag in her hand.

"I'm not even going to look in the cellar," she said. "I'll trust you to do the best job you can."

"We usually do pretty well with these type of things," Dwight said with encouragement as he stood from the step. "Think positive and remain hopeful."

"My cellar was a giant toilet bowl, Dwight," Emmaly said with a frown. "It's a shit situation." She walked down the deck stairs and met him at the bottom. "I don't mean to be a jerk, but these last few years have been hell."

"I understand," Dwight said with sympathy.

"But I'm grateful for your quick response and helpful attitude."

"Go to the apartment and try to forget about all this," Dwight suggested. "Is there anything we shouldn't throw out?"

"I can't imagine trying to save anything that's been affected," she said with a shrug.

"There was about ten inches of water so anything above the water line should be okay."

"Unless it smells."

Dwight nodded in agreement.

"I hope you don't mind that I called you," Emmaly said. "I know you weren't happy with Sawyer regarding what happened with Catelyn."

"Let's just worry about your situation," Dwight said.

"Okay," she said heavily as she started for the driveway.

Dwight watched her disappear around the corner of the house and a moment later he heard the engine of her car rumbling as she backed out of the driveway.

Dwight certainly didn't expect to find himself back at the McGuire house after the tough breakup between Emmaly's son Sawyer and his daughter Catelyn but he wasn't about to leave the widow Emmaly up shit's creek even if her son had been a bastard to his daughter.