Two burly men were standing at the front door talking to Mrs Elliott. I had put a call out yesterday see if anyone I knew could help hoist a small boulder out of a hole destined to be the new home for an aspen tree. These two guys showed up. One was chewing a cigar butt that looked like a plug of wet black leather.
"Oh, thank you for coming over. My husband says the rock is very heavy and he can't budge it."
While Mrs Elliott led them around to the side of the house, I put on my shoes. Caught up a few moments later.
"Dat's it?" said one, pushing his hat back on his head with a fingertip. He glanced at his partner.
"I dunno," said the other. He stared at the boulder and scratched at his stubbled neck with a finger the size of a plantain. "Maybe we should get Petey to help."
Good thing they brought a third guy, I thought. I hope they can lift it.
The first nodded. "I'll get him."
He returned in a few moments with a boy.
"This is my son, Pete. He's a good kid. Goes to Mountain View."
The boy looked kind of small, but who knows? Kid could be a wrestler maybe.
"Pete, can you get that rock out of that hole?"
The lad looked at the stone, shrugged, bent over, reached in and plucked it out like it was a feather pillow.
I was nonplussed. "Wow. Pete -- how'd you do that? You lift weights or something?"
The two men guffawed. His father pulled his cigar stub out of his mouth with two fingers. "Dance major."
The boy looked at his feet.
Mrs Elliott started to giggle. I protested, "Well, I didn't want to . . . to hurt my metal knee."
She laughed harder. The two men smiled. "C'mon, Petey, let's get you home."
I had to go back into the house and lay down for a while.
[Mrs Elliott writes to say,
That's not the way it happened. It was more like...
Two studly men came to the door and I excitedly took them around the house explaining all the while that Mr. Elliott couldn't lift this heavy rock out of the hole. The taller of the two studly men said, "What -- this puny thing?" and lifted it out and threw it like it was a pebble. At which point, I laughed hysterically telling them that "Mr. Elliott thought it was so heavy it would take a few crowbars and pulleys to lift it." At which point I went over and tried to lift it myself, having just come from the gym. Once again realized..."we're old people." ]