Remember when I kind of without asking accused Hick of messing with the under-desk space heater in my dark basement lair? I still haven't asked. But something happened Wednesday night that gave me pause. Made me think that perhaps my sweet baboo was blameless of all assumptions. Innocent until proven guilty!
I used my electronic leg-skin-baker while happily peck peck pecking at my keyboard until around 9:00 p.m. Then I turned it off, as I always do, and went to other parts of the basement for big-screen TV viewing. I called my mom around 10:00, watched a little TMZ so I know what's going on in the entertainment world, and fell asleep in my blue recliner. I awoke around 2:00 a.m., all bespectacled and wandering where the time had gone. I pried my old glasses from behind my ears, and went upstairs to go to bed.
In the kitchen, I plugged in my cell phone to charge for the rest of the night. And the doubt of Hick's dastardly deed wafted through my mind like tendrils of fog in a Scooby Doo mystery. I smelled something. Not something rotting inside Frig. Not supper onions left on the counter. Something burny. Like electrical wire kind of burny.
I checked the toaster that nobody uses until Genius comes home. Cold as a witch's teat. Stuck my nose up under the cabinets by the mini fluorescent lights. No odor. We have no other appliances on the counter. Not coffee drinkers in need of a maker are we. I sniffed Frig's nether regions. Nope. Fresh as a dusty daisy. WAIT! Maybe my under-desk heater had an electrical short. I know I turned it off. But what if something was all melty between the wall plug and the business end of The UnderBaker? I really did not want to walk back downstairs. But, like a devious table lamp, The UnderBaker is one of those gadgets that can't be trusted not to burst into flame if you leave it on all night.
Funny. The burning rubber aroma did not seem to come from my left, the area toward the basement stairs. It came from the right. The area across the sink counter, the table nook. Nothing on that side to combust. Just a cuckoo clock that runs on weights that hang on chains. A wooden table and four chairs. A wooden stool. The metal kitchen door. Mini-blinds. Hick's coat hanging over the chair back. Hick's boots.
HICK'S BOOTS! He's only had them since around the time of the Good Feet Store debacle. Let's not dwell on that. Hick's steel-toe tan suede work boots with their relatively new rubber soles sat square on the metal heating vent beside the kitchen door. Let the record show that the temperature Wednesday night was -11 in Backroads. So the furnace ran pretty much continuously, with short intermissions to draw breath. The heating vent had no chance to cool down. Kind of like a domestic China Syndrome, or a truck chopped into parts and buried at Kerr-McGee's Cimmaron River plutonium plant. Like Cher as Dolly Pelliker told Meryl Streep as Karen Silkwood that her friend Sudie Bond as Thelma Rice had been cooked...so were Hick's boot soles. Only Hick's boots were cooked from the outside by heat, and not from the inside by plutonium.
Yeah. Hick is acquitted of under-desk heater tampering, and will face more severe charges of in-kitchen boot-melting.