author bio




Hey, how you doing, good to see you.  Cindy told me you’re retiring and you guys are taking a trip to Europe for several months, locking your house up and leaving it, lots to plan, lots to think about.  Have you thought much about leaks?  You should find a reliable person to check your house two or three times a week, someone who can get in touch with you at any moment in case you have to come back.  One thing you need to do is empty your water heater, if it leaks it’ll ruin your house, you’ll have a waterfall pouring from under your front door, down the walkway and out into the street.  That would be embarrassing, you’d never outlive it, empty the damn thing, turn it off and forget about it.  Your icemaker can leak, shut it down too, but be careful moving your refrigerator, you could break the copper water line and that would create a leak.  My sister left her house for a weekend and came back to a house full of water, poured onto her shoes when she opened the back door.  Icemaker cracked up, disaster, trouble getting her insurance to pay.  Best thing when you’re gone that long, empty your refrigerator and pull the plug.  If it goes out while you’re in Europe, the freezer thaws, all the food rots and you’ve got a mess on your hands.  We had a pipe in our foundation decide to leak, plumbers came out and jackhammered the concrete slab for hours to locate the source, dust everywhere, if we hadn’t been at home when it started we’d have been flooded wall to wall lickety-split.  Why the pipe decided to leak no idea, been inside the foundation for years never a problem, but all of a sudden a hole pops open and water bursts forth and spreads onto our hardwood floors.  Nature of water.  If we’d been on a trip we could’ve had to tear out the sheetrock four feet up all over the house, no questions asked.  You’ll need to turn off the water to your toilets, but the shut-off valve can leak too so don’t twist the handle too tight.  Whoever checks your house, have them turn the water back on to all toilets and then flush every one of them and stand there till they stop running.  If the toilets don’t get flushed the water in the bowl will evaporate and gases will come up through the sewage lines and stink up your house.  You’ll have to live with the stench and everyone who enters your house will expect an explanation, which will force you to relive the problem over and over.  Other things can leak, pipes under your sinks, toilet tank, air conditioner up in the attic, dripping through the ceiling, layers of mildew coating the walls.  You don’t want to hear about it, you can’t worry about everything, you can’t even imagine all of it, but that water heater has got to be emptied and turned off.  You get water running from your house onto the street, someone will take a video and post it online.  It could stay there forever, a residential waterfall, you’d never live down the humiliation.  You’ve seen those emails with a series of pictures or videos of people in embarrassing situations, but it’s not funny when it’s you.  You can turn off all the water to your house, but then your yard and most of your landscaping will die and you’ll be left with replacement expenses when you get back, not to mention the humiliation of having every living thing around your house dead or dying from neglect and everyone guessing because of it that your house is unoccupied, a target for burglars, a magnet for crime in the neighborhood.  The thing is that you can have a house manager come in and check your place every single day, all is well when they punch in the alarm code and close the front door, but five minutes later something springs a leak and there you are.  No way of telling where it will be or when water will break free.  You could install cameras inside your house, watch them on your phone, whatever.  I saw a television commercial, two knuckleheads sitting out by a swimming pool checking their phones, one of the knuckleheads brings up his cameras at home and sees he’s got a major leak.  He bolts up and his buddy laughs his ass off as the guy runs to his car.  Not sure of the reasoning behind the ad, but it seemed like even the company selling the cameras wanted to make a fool of the guy with the leak.  Makes you wonder how you can enjoy a trip without knowing what water is doing inside your house.  Odds are nothing will happen, but think of the embarrassment that could come from not having the cameras.  Does your phone work over there?  Check it out.  You may be in a place, out in the country maybe, where you won’t be able to access your phone, or your phone may not work anywhere or it may be outrageously expensive.  You want to see Normandy, all the World War II stuff, not just the half-day tour, the whole thing, all of it, anything less is disrespectful, humiliating to admit to people, like saying you’re a half-baked person who doesn’t care about his historical heritage.  Whatever you’ve planned, get up to Normandy, I’m not kidding, no matter what.  You have to go to Mont Saint-Michel, crowded, but if you don’t go you’ll have to explain your reason for not going to every person you talk to when you get back and what are you going to say?  That the parking was too hard for you, that it was too crowded?  Come on, if you can go to a ballgame you can go to Mont Saint-Michel, don’t embarrass yourself, you’ve got to go.  Luxembourg and the Netherlands, we were surprised, go see them, email me and I’ll tell you exactly what to see and exactly where to stand.  And trip insurance, get it, and make sure you have good health coverage and the ability to fly home on a medical jet.  You could get stuck in some European hospital hooked up to a bunch of tubes for months, no way of knowing what kind of goop’s flowing through them, not knowing if the doctor walking in your room speaks English or whether they’ll skin you alive on your hospital bill.  You’ve had a thorough physical, I hope, and your wife too.  If not, get yourself in there and get it done.  You don’t want your heart springing a leak when you’re flying over the ocean.  You need to exercise while you’re there, take running clothes and get out of bed early and run in the streets, make your heart pump hard at least five times a week.  Wash the sweaty clothes in the sink at your hotel and dry them as much as you can before putting them back in your suitcase.  If you don’t exercise, your arteries will clog with fat from all that cheese and mystery meat they serve, not to mention the pervasive cigarette smoke flowing in abundance all the way up to the heavens.  Anyway, you’ve got a great trip planned, I’m sure, but don’t underestimate the power of water, its potential to erode your boundaries.  You get some disastrous leak while you’re gone and the rest of your life your mind will see and feel water dripping, reminding you, humiliating you, even when you’re not consciously aware of it.  You don’t want to let yourself in for that kind of suffering, the possibility for that kind of online humiliation, not to mention your reputation in your own neighborhood where people would look at you and immediately think of water pouring from under your front door.  The flow of water can become identical with the flow of your thoughts, leaking inside your mind and the rest of your body.  Of course we need water, but it cares nothing about us and in its soft way, just by flowing self-absorbed within its own nature, water can destroy your property and your reputation, all you’ve worked for.  You want to take your trip without coming back permanently branded by something that could have been avoided.  Get someone inside your house looking around as often as you can, a neighbor, a friend, a trusted person, someone on the lookout for water.  Anyway, think positive, say hello to your wife, have a good trip, different world over there, and stick with the bottled water, you’ve earned it.

Author Bio

Glen PourciauGlen Pourciau's collection of stories Invite won the Iowa Short Fiction Award and was published by the University of Iowa Press.  His stories have been published by AGNI Online, the Antioch Review, Epoch, The Literarian, New England Review , the Paris Review, and other magazines.