Another home ownership benefit – you get to unclog the bathtub drain

Image courtesy of Quinn Dombrowski by way of a Creative Commons license.

As a homeowner, I have had my eyes opened to a range of marvelous new experiences, many of them requiring the absence of money. One such experience is a clogged drain.

In the halcyon days of my youth, a clogged drain meant waiting until 2:30 when Dad would come home from work to fix it. Now, a clogged drain means that I, as an adult male and, by default, the head of the household, am expected to flail at the accursed thing for at least an hour before calling Dad, who must come home from work and then drive across town to my house to fix it.

I was taking a shower recently when I noticed that my kneecaps were submerged. My keen powers of perception told me that water was not draining from the bathtub, and with my equally acute powers of deductive reasoning, I swiftly determined that something – probably a big wad of mutant hairballs – had plugged the drain.

Minutes later I entered the bathroom dressed for battle: a plumber’s snake dangled from my fist like a bullwhip. The furrows in my forehead, plowed there by grim determination, were dotted with beads of sweat, or perhaps bath water, because I had forgotten to towel off.

You are probably asking yourself: What is a plumber’s snake? Is it one of those things you read about that swims up into toilets and gives elderly ladies heart attacks?

No. Basically, a plumber’s snake is a long metal device that you use to damage shower tiles and small children if they happen to be in the same voting precinct when you are cranking it.

I began ramming the snake down the drain. I immediately encountered an obstruction, because the snake kept wanting to spring back out of the drain as if it were some mad jack-in-the-box. The obstruction turned out to be a bend in the pipe.

More of the snake began to slip into the drain. I could hear it clearly … so clearly that my powerful intellect was able to guide me to the conclusion that it had gone UP the pipe instead of DOWN, and would have inserted itself into my ear had it not been for a metal plate covering the opening beneath the faucet.

I reasoned that if I could remove that metal plate, I could force the snake DOWN, and it could go nowhere but into the drain pipe, unless it bored through the pipe and into Earth’s crust.

So I set about unscrewing the screw that held the plate in place. I did not know the screw hadn’t been moved since man developed metallurgy, and no sooner than I could say, “What hath God wrought,” the screw broke, the plate fell off and I was staring at a slime-encrusted hole that resembled a biblical description of hell.

Ever the opportunist, I inserted the plumber’s snake into the hole and began merrily plunging away, and half an hour later I had slime all over the bathroom, the drain was plugged worse than ever and it was almost time to go to work.

That’s when I called Dad.

I’m happy to report the drain is now clear and the lid to hell has been capped and you can all return to your homes. Except the kitchen faucet is dripping.

This column was originally published in a February 1988 edition of the Northwest Florida Daily News and is used with permission.

About the author:

Del Stone Jr. is a professional fiction writer. He is known primarily for his work in the contemporary dark fiction field, but has also published science fiction and contemporary fantasy. Stone’s stories, poetry and scripts have appeared in publications such as Amazing Stories, Eldritch Tales, and Bantam-Spectra’s Full Spectrum. His short fiction has been published in The Year’s Best Horror Stories XXII; Alfred Hitchcock’s Mystery Magazine; the Pocket Books anthology More Phobias; the Barnes & Noble anthologies 100 Wicked Little Witch Stories, Horrors! 365 Scary Stories, and 100 Astounding Little Alien Stories; the HWA anthology Psychos; and other short fiction venues, like Blood Muse, Live Without a Net, Zombiesque and Sex Macabre. Stone’s comic book debut was in the Clive Barker series of books, Hellraiser, published by Marvel/Epic and reprinted in The Best of Hellraiser anthology. He has also published stories in Penthouse Comix, and worked with artist Dave Dorman on many projects, including the illustrated novella “Roadkill,” a short story for the Andrew Vachss anthology Underground from Dark Horse, an ashcan titled “December” for Hero Illustrated, and several of Dorman’s Wasted Lands novellas and comics, such as Rail from Image and “The Uninvited.” Stone’s novel, Dead Heat, won the 1996 International Horror Guild’s award for best first novel and was a runner-up for the Bram Stoker Award. Stone has also been a finalist for the IHG award for short fiction, the British Fantasy Award for best novella, and a semifinalist for the Nebula and Writers of the Future awards. His stories have appeared in anthologies that have won the Bram Stoker Award and the World Fantasy Award. Two of his works were optioned for film, the novella “Black Tide” and short story “Crisis Line.”

Stone recently retired after a 41-year career in journalism. He won numerous awards for his work, and in 1986 was named Florida’s best columnist in his circulation division by the Florida Society of Newspaper Editors. In 2001 he received an honorable mention from the National Lesbian and Gay Journalists Association for his essay “When Freedom of Speech Ends” and in 2003 he was voted Best of the Best in the category of columnists by Emerald Coast Magazine. He participated in book signings and awareness campaigns, and was a guest on local television and radio programs.

As an addendum, Stone is single, kills tomatoes and morning glories with ruthless efficiency, once tied the stem of a cocktail cherry in a knot with his tongue, and carries a permanent scar on his chest after having been shot with a paintball gun. He’s in his 60s as of this writing but doesn’t look a day over 94.

Contact Del at [email protected]. He is also on Facebook, twitter, Pinterest, tumblr, TikTok, Ello and Instagram. Visit his website at .