(( This is a possible idea for another story ))
“Do you tshink that’s deep enough?” the boy running the white and red backhoe shouted. His tousled brown hair ruffled in the breeze as his brown eyes glanced over at his father. His son, Dirk was so similar to him that people had teased him about being cloned. The boy, at twelve, was only a few centimeters short of his father’s height, and his large, lean frame hinted at the bulk his father carried.
Dirk scratched his nose as Harlan Zachary ambled over next to the rumbling machine, and looked down at the gash dug in the ground. “Lemme check it”, he yelled over the noise of the engine. He pulled out a yellow tape measure, and drew out four feet of tape. He lowered the bare end down into the narrow pit. His own red-blonde hair curled like he’d stuck his finger in an electrical socket, and didn’t pull it out. It peeked out from under his Tim Horton’s hat in fuzzy glory. His weathered features at odds with the babylike curls.
He carefully tapped the bottom of the trench, he turned the tape towards the sun, and squinted at the reading. “Thirty eight inches.” He turned to his son, and gave him a thumbs up. “That’s perfect. Now, widen it by one trench on either side of this, and have it two feet short of the back fence. I’ll paint out the parking and storage areas. Then we can save your mom some cookin’ and get a burger and some fries.”
Dirk’s eyes lit up. “I’ll besha a larsh drink I get the tsresenches dug before you get the shpots painted!” Harlan gazed fondly at his son. “You’re on, Dirk.” Harlan’s eyes glinted mischeviously. “Readysetgo!” He dashed to the small house, and was through the door just as the backhoe’s engine revved up. Harlan ran to the utility room, snapping the fluorescent light on as he flipped the switch by the door with learned instinct. The paint and compressed air brush was where he’d set them by the door. He grinned and grabbed them, spinning on his heel as his elbow flipped the softly humming fluorescent lights back off. Harlan trotted back out to the back yard, and slowed to watch his son handle the rented backhoe.
The sun was starting to settle in the west, giving a gold and pinks glow to the few overhead clouds. The breeze carried the scent of saltwater and fish from the Atlantic Ocean as he watched Dirk drop another load of dirt on the pile.
Dirk dropped the scoop next to the trench, then dug into the dark earth. The edge of the trench crumbled as the scoop hooked up a load of earth. The scoop curled under the arm, like an elephant’s trunk. Dirk lifted the hoe up then rotated to center the scoop over the pile of earth next to the backhoe. The scoop uncoiled, dumping the earth. He rotated the scoop back, leaning out the side window to gauge where to set the scoop for the next bite of earth. His blonde hair ruffled in the light breeze as he slowly dropped the scoop just in front of the previous gash. Harlan heard light footsteps behind him.
He looked back over his shoulder as his daughter stepped next to him. Willow Zachary stood as tall as her father, at one-point-nine meters. Her hair was mouse brown with red highlights in the sun. Willow might have conjured visions of a thin, tall woman, but she was almost as stocky as her father. She bore the weight well as she competed in girl’s soccer, rugby, and hockey at the Halifax Western High School. Willow just gotten home from her job at Henri’s auto repair. She was one of the student mechanics there, earning credits for a trade school position after graduation.
“Hey, I thought I was going to get a chance to run that.” Willow’s lower lip stuck out in a cute pout as Harlan glanced over at her. She’s got her mother’s delicate features, and my big ol’ body. Harlan let himself drift back through the years, to when he’d greeted her just after her mom’s labor. I could hold you in one hand you were so small. Now look at you, big as me and twice as smart. How did I get so lucky? Lord knows it can’t have been clean living. He turned his attention back to the backhoe, lest his daughter caught him daydreaming. The tw watched Dirk finish the second cut. “I’m gonna beash you da!” Harlan blinked. Oh yeah, the ‘race’! That’s what I get for daydreaming. He hustled out to the back yard, dragging the paint sprayer and carrying the white paint. “Willow! Come help me set up, your brother got a head start!” Laughing over her brother’s protests, Willow joined her father in marking out the parking area and driveway as Dirk chewed at the yard with the backhoe.
Harlan beeped the horn twice. The yowling beep of the horn was punctuated by Dirk’s shout. “Cfome on Mom! Weefe are waiting!” Ruth Zachary came gliding out the back door of the house, and glided to the passenger side door of the well cared for Chevrolet S-10. Barely one and a half meters tall and forty-five kilos fully clothed, she looked like a dainty Chihuahua next to a bunch of burly Rottweilers. But like the old saying, she was a small woman with a BIG attitude.
“What kept you?”, Harlan queried as she sat down and reached for the seat belt. “There was something about a disaster in California on the radio. The news said it was big, but there were no details about what happened.” “Huh.” Harlan backed the S-10 up and out onto the paved road. “California’s got earthquakes, maybe that big one all those scientists have been predicting happened.” He dropped the transmission into drive, and drove down the street towards downtown Halifax.