When Appliances Attack

Written by Jim Knipfel on . Posted in Breaking News, Posts.



I got home
about 7:30 Monday night. It was a foul one outside. I had a few in me and my
body was still struggling to acclimate itself to a new brain medication. Things
were a little shaky. I closed the door behind me, dropped my bag on the bench,
kicked my shoes off, waved in the general direction of the beasts, turned on
the air conditioner and went to grab another beer.


When I opened
the refrigerator door, the light didn’t come on.


No big
deal
, I figured, Dora was here today. Maybe she unplugged it.


I knelt
slowly and creakily to the floor and felt along the wall for the outlet. Everything
seemed to be plugged in, so that wasn’t it. I stood again, opened the refrigerator
door and stuck my hand inside. Seemed cool enough. A drop of water fell on the
back of my hand.


I reached
up and felt around. Things were damp in there all right. I pulled open the freezer
door. It was no longer the frozen nightmare it had been the previous evening–having
reached the point where I had to chip out small caves with a screwdriver to
fit anything in there. Someone had defrosted it for me. Dora. Bless her heart.


Unfortunately
now, it looked like the lightbulb had burned out in the process. I closed the
freezer door, then reached for the bulb. I knew it was there, in the back someplace.
Somewhere near the top, just over the beer.


My fingers
touched smooth, cool glass. I wrapped my fingers lightly around the bulb and
started twisting it from its socket.


With that
first twist, the bulb exploded in my hand. What’s more, it was full of
water–I guess that as the ice in the freezer melted, it dripped down through
the socket, directly into the lightbulb.


I pulled
my damp, glass-filled hand back out of the refrigerator and looked at it closely.
I didn’t seem to be bleeding at all. I poked at it. It didn’t feel
like I had driven any shards under the flesh, either, so that was good. I walked
over to the garbage can and dumped the glass, then went back to the refrigerator.
Somewhere, in those few short steps, I stopped thinking.


I reached
my hand back into the refrigerator, just to find out how much of the bulb was
still sticking out of the socket.


Feeling
for glass, I grabbed hold of the filament wires with my wet hand instead. The
buzz and burn shot through my fingers for just a second like a sadist’s
joy buzzer before I was thrown back against the wall behind me. In the process,
my arm hit two loose beer bottles, which followed me out of the fridge and crashed
down across my toes. The bottles, thank God, didn’t break. I wasn’t
so sure about the toes.


Well
that was really stupid
, I thought as I pulled myself upright, wincing, my
fingers still tingling.


I reached
over to the wall again, felt for the outlet, and pulled out the refrigerator
plug. With a newfound confidence, I reached back into the darkened refrigerator
and felt for the jagged glass. I should probably have put on a glove or something.


Again, I
felt the sharp vibration and the shock of pain as my fingers brushed the filament
before I was, again, thrown back against the wall.


Wrong
fucking plug
, I thought, a bit too calmly. Fact of the matter was, I’d
always sort of had a thing for electrocution, even when I was a kid. Maybe that’s
why I was so intrigued by the possibility last time I was in the madhouse.


I sat up
again, yanked the other plug, reached blindly back into the refrigerator, and
grabbed hold of the filaments. If it was going to get me, I was going to make
sure it got me good.


Nothing.
So I unscrewed what was left of the bulb, and replaced it. There was still plenty
of water dripping from the coils, but I figured I’d take a shot. I plugged
the machine back in, and the light came on.


That
was all really stupid
, I thought to myself. Then I went about my business.


The next
evening when I got home, I went through the same routine. Dropped the bag, removed
the shoes, waved at the cats, turned on the air conditioner, grabbed a beer.
It was about 6:30. It was still foul outside, and I still had a few in me, but
at least the medicine seemed to be taking hold.


I pulled
some dinner out of the newly uncluttered freezer, set it on the counter and
turned the oven on. It was insane to use the oven when it was so damned ugly
outside, but I had little choice.


I tore the
frozen dinner box open, and removed the plastic from around the joys that awaited
me inside.


A few minutes
later, I pulled the oven door open to insert the tray, and waited a second for
that telltale blast of heat to puff the hair out of my eyes for a second.


There was
nothing. I put the dinner back on the counter and pulled the oven door all the
way open, and stuck my arm inside. It was cool in there. That wasn’t right.


Well, fuck
all. I couldn’t remember the pilot light ever going out once during the
entire 10 years I lived here. And because of that, I was at a loss as to what
to do.


I knew,
in theory at least, that it involved matches and gas jets, but that was about
as far as I took it. I turned the stove off, then turned it on again, listening
intently for the soft "whoompf" that would tell me that everything
was okay, that I wouldn’t have to worry about a thing.


Again, nothing,
except the hiss of gas. That worried me some. I knew some folks once who lost
their whole house in a huge gas explosion. Bad news. Everything was gone in
an instant.


Still, after
a few minutes of sniffing the gas and getting all lightheaded and nauseous,
I grabbed a pack of matches, sat back down on the floor and lit one.


I reached
into the oven, not seeing a goddamn thing, lit the match between my fingertips,
just waiting for the whole world to dissolve around me. Blind man playing with
matches and gas. There should be public service commercials.


But nothing
happened. Of course, the fact that I didn’t know what the hell I was doing
probably had something to do with that.


I tried
that a few more times–vainly waving a lit match around the inside of the
stove, praying that something would catch–before giving up.


I closed
the oven door, turned off the gas (I really was getting pretty woozy) and paced
a bit.


Then I pulled
the broiler at the bottom of the stove open, lit another match and did the same
thing. No fucking clue. Nothing happened. But I didn’t die in the process,
either.


I pined
for the days when all I had was an electric hot plate sitting on the counter
next to the sink. (Now there was an arrangement that nearly killed me).


A few minutes
later, I turned the gas back on, tried it one more time, then gave up entirely,
deciding to make a sandwich instead. Nothing wrong with a sandwich.


I put dinner
back in the freezer, and was pulling out the block of cheese when I heard a
strange noise. Clicking sounds. Soft, erratic clicking sounds from over by the
window, near the trash can.


Great,
I thought, some sort of toothed insect, and I’ll only be able
to find it by feeling for it.


But as I
got over there, I recognized the sounds as coming from inside the stove. I pulled
the door open a crack, and the puff of hot wind rushed across my face.


Well
I’ll be damned
.


It would
be very easy to think that, somewhere during my spastic match-waving mania of
the past 20 minutes, I had done something right, something had caught, something,
through some freakish accident, had actually worked.


I don’t
think so, though. No, I’ve seen this movie before. That fucking stove was
just toying with me. Just playing around, tormenting me. It saw how much fun
the refrigerator had had the day before, and wanted a little taste of the action.
Yeah, I can see this kind of mentality working itself around the entire apartment–the
computer, the television, the blender. All of them with their own little tricks.
Each with their own plot to hurt me somehow.


I’ll
tell you one thing–I’m steering clear of that blender for a few days,
that’s for damn sure.


..