Title: Contents Under Pressure
Rating: PG - wee!chesters - Gen
Spoilers: General (for all aired episodes)
Disclaimers: SPN & characters are owned by their various creators.
Summary: Cleaning ancient toilets, comfy tool sheds and homemade napalm.
There were limits to everything.
The boundaries in which a person could realistically endure varied when it came down to the individual themselves. There were no real consistencies when it came to the state of the intolerable. Of course a few basics came to the forefront but even those ran the spectrum of a human being’s breaking point. An overdue cable bill was the damnation of a lifetime of credit for some people. To another guy it was just an annoying discontinuance of service. The beginnings of gray were one woman’s gentle smile in the mirror and another’s reason to go under a surgeon’s knife. The ever changing shades of horror and indifference were a precious national past time.
John supposed love tended to be a big common denominator. No one did real well when it came to that stuff. It was all about pain as it was pleasure and a whole lot of hair pulling in between. But that was why people liked roller coasters right? You wanted to go as high as it went so you could enjoy the crap being scared out of you when the rumbling crash came along. If the whole shebang included a nice view than that was just gravy.
He shifted in his not quite comfortable seat.
If he leaned back against the tiled wall and put one leg in the bathtub it didn’t hurt his back too much. Looking up from the newspaper spread over his lap, he decided that he was going to rip down the moldy shower curtain and buy a replacement in the morning. Tubs and other restful locations like it weren’t places he dwelled in for very long. Not long enough to notice that anything might be wrong with it. Knowing that green festering plastic had been there long since they had arrived made him frown. The disintegrating plumbing forced him to wonder about the wisdom of drinking from the taps. But besides the questionable infrastructure, the two bed room house was a nice quiet place.
Reflecting on the silence made him realize he wasn’t listening to the coarse bristles of a brush.
“Is it break time?”
“Then let’s go.”
John flipped the paper back up, glad that the builders had decided that a full ceiling of ridiculously bright fluorescents were necessary for the small room. Reading required the correct illumination these days. With a small shake of his head he thought about when he’d need some narrow bifocals to help bring the fine print into focus. The headlines were the same everyday so he skipped those. The local highlights were much easier to stomach. The town was medium and so were its sensations. But that kind of vanilla mediocrity made the best places to stand still.
The kids weren’t used to having a patch of grass around to call their own let alone the perfectly proportioned climbing tree. The backyard was mostly tall weeds but that didn’t stop them from staying out there until the sun had gone down. The cracked asphalt driveway had a basketball hoop bolted over the garage and the basement had a paint flaked ping pong table. Toss in a working television with a built in VCR and there was more distraction than his two spawn knew what the hell to do with.
At least for the first 24 hours.
Repositioning his cramped legs, John turned to the sports section. Finding the topics of interest to be about as predictable as the front page, he let himself linger for the small sweet torture of the weekly recaps. The subterranean sections of the paper hadn’t always been his only solace however. After the move his sons hadn’t been the only ones with a few new toys to play with. Their father’s were far more useful and boring but he’d welcomed their presence nonetheless.
The first surprise had been the completely undetectable crawlspace that worked as the house attic. When John was anywhere he considered long term he didn’t want to worry about anyone looking through a window and seeing something they shouldn’t. The second feature he had greatly appreciated were the useless paper thin walls. It was one thing to lay in a motel bed and listen to the nauseating goings on of your unwanted neighbors, but it was quite another to be able to monitor his children without getting up out of a comfortable chair.
The third and last thing that had brought a smile to John’s face was out there with the uncut grass and the sagging back fence. Right across from that gnarled old oak there stood a good sized recent addition of a tool shed. It had smelled like engine oil and potting soil. Musty and filled with cobwebs he had enjoyed cleaning it out the first day while his boys were busy falling out of the tree near by. The garage barely had room for the car so he had moved his extra munitions out there. All the equipment he’d kept in storage until they were off the road for a chunk of time found a place on the rows of shelves. It had a window to let in the sun and an old radio caught the ball game when he felt like being out there for more than a while.
It had been a full week before John knew the landscape in his immediate square mile well enough to leave it all behind for one night of work.
The job had been simple. He didn’t even have to do any digging. When morning came he was back on the highway and thinking of bed. He was also wondering why no one had picked up the phone when he called right on the minute of the hour he said he would. Pushing the pedal to the floor, he’d hit town thirty-four minutes before scheduled.
For some reason it wasn’t incredibly shocking to see the line of police cars filling up the street in front of the rental. The flashing fire engine jack knifed in park on the front lawn made him briefly experience some dread that was quickly put aside. Seeing that the house seemed intact, John pulled into a neighboring driveway. Listening to the law radios hissing back and forth for a moment, he caught the general scene before he made an official entrance.
Yes, he had left his ten and six year old with a babysitter.
Yes, it looked like she had taken off and with what was in his liquor cabinet too.
Why yes, he would like to report her in full detail with the proper paperwork as soon as they were all done here.
All the questions eased off when everything out of his mouth matched what his kids had been taught to sell the authorities. The tension drained and the hard looks faded. In fact, the officers started to look something like amused. John didn’t really understand why until he got into his backyard.
The devastation was a little amazing.
The overgrown grass was thoroughly blackened to the singed ground. The pleasant old tree with its broad reaching branches was denuded of its foliage and charred into a brittle skeleton. John saw with a professional’s eye that the blaze had been the worst where it had started. The tool shed looked like someone had dropped a miniature A-bomb on its roof. There was nothing left but a pile of smoldering ash and the metal frame that had seen enough heat to warp into sculpture.
Breathing in the scent of chemical fire retardant and the carbon remains of their slice of suburbia, John thanked the uniformed men for their surely prompt appearance. He patiently waited until every last county vehicle had passed and vanished beyond the distant stop sign.
The house still had traces of smoke hanging under the plaster ceilings.
Dean had somehow maintained enough composure to still be in the living room. Sammy was no where to be seen. John had figured on that circumstance. His youngest was never afraid to be unabashedly terrified when it was appropriate. He wasn’t sure what he was expecting to hear. There was faint hope that some logical explanation might be offered. For a moment John truly desired to be told that something worthy of that staggering level of retaliation had endangered countless lives on their very doorstep. But after more than a half hour of stuttered stops and starts John slowly got the details.
A few gallon gas cans filled to the brim. Petroleum jelly and some axel grease found in mystifying quantities in the cluttered cellar. The ratio of liquid to gel had to be almost exact. If you didn’t do it right there’d be that drainage and splash problem you got with the impractical but awesome flamethrower. It was all perfectly under control until the tree went up like a torch. John could be rest assured that his kid knew it was time to call in the officials when it looked like it might keep going around the block. But the house was okay and that was what mattered right? Oh yeah, Sam was mostly fine too. Nothing running a hand under cold water didn’t fix. Unless missing eyelashes counted?
John had settled his elbows on his knees, covered his face in his hands and counted slowly backwards.
Good old fashioned homemade incendiary materials.
More specifically some kick ass napalm.
It had taken a nice long walk about the neighborhood before he was really ready to climb back up the front steps. Dean was right where’d left him but the other one was still MIA. That was fine. The kid would show up eventually when he got hungry.
Moving again on the unyielding ceramic, John gave up on the paper.
Folding it up and dropping it on his knee he checked on the work in progress. Although it had been going an hour things weren’t looking much better. But there was only so much a mortal could do in the face of astounding neglect compounded by the passage of decades. The fact that the bathroom hadn’t seen any bleach action in his son’s lifetime didn’t help much either. He was pretty sure that that toilet bowl hadn’t been cleaned since around the time John thought wearing bell bottoms was a good idea.
Dean was bravely gnawing on his lower lip but he was losing the fight.
“Go ahead son, let it out.” John sighed. “I’d wanna cry too.”
Thinking about the grand worth of vaporized power tools that were now polluting the atmosphere, he thought he just might.