When Dave went back to his house to get a flashlight, I was sure that he would not return. I'd seen it so many times before; we're building a wall or we're jamming out in my little studio or we're working on the boiler in the basement, and he heads over to his house for this or that. When I go to retrieve him 45 minutes later, he is fast asleep on the couch or he is playing Guitar Hero. Dave always gives 110% to whatever he's doing, but he sometimes forgets what he's doing and starts giving 110% to something else (even sleep - Dave sleeps passionately, curled up in a spiral of quilts like he's doing some kind of performance art). So when Dave actually returns 6 minutes later with a red helmet, a lengthy extension cable, and a tripod with a floodlight attached, I say, "Whoa. We're actually going to do this tonight."
"Ya, dude. Let's get this fucker open."
I run the extension chord to the back porch. Meanwhile, Dave positions the tripod a foot from the northeast corner of the pool, yelling, "plug it in!" as if I intended to leave the end on the back porch, lifeless. Light flickers and spills onto the two massive doors and beyond them, reaching through the winter-dead grass towards the woods.
When he's repositioned the tripod so that the entire site is encompassed in light, he does the obvious: he grabs one of the iron rings and tries to pull the door up and open. Realizing quickly that he is standing on the door he is attempting to lift, he shuffles over to the opposite door and tries again. We can see it shift upwards, but only slightly. Dave lets it slam back into place, that loud gong sounding again, higher pitched and less muffled than before. The crevasse between the two doors coughs out dust into the artificial ambiance. The angle is all wrong - Dave can't put his full back into it while leaning over from atop the other door.
"Fuck it" he says, marching towards the Bobcat. Like another pathetic villager lining up before Excalibur, I try my hand anyway. I can't even make it rise a centimeter, so I just pretend I am examining the ring.
"Out of the way, Shmavvy," he roars, knotting a thick rope around the left door knocker and routing it back to the Bobcat. Moments later he is slowly driving away from the site, dragging the door open cautiously. There is no use trying to see inside just yet, the opening is not even visible through the dancing dust particles fogging everything up. I reposition the floodlight to cast a downward beam, and we stand their impatiently for several minutes. I, for one, am convinced that one of those things from Tremors is gonna burst forth and swallow me whole, so I stand several feet away from Dave so at least I'll have a 50/50 chance. Dave seems to share that nightmare, as he is clutching the shovel in a very weaponly fashion.
When the dust finally settles, what we find is very very very disappointing: nothing, save a musty eruption of wet dog odor. Having spent many a night with Lu in post-bathing bliss, I am not put off by it, but Dave is beside himself. "THIS SUCKS," he declares, turning on his masculine heels to leave.
But I soon realize he is not leaving, he is retrieving the rope and looping it around the other knocker. Because the shed lies directly where the Bobcat would have to be to open it, we opt to tug-of-war it together by hand on the slightest angle along the shed wall. It comes easier than the first, as if the smell is pushing up and out.
Another ten minutes of settling earth. Another bracing of oneself against the potentially emerging beast and beastly stink.
And finally, peering down in the pool without any obstruction, we see what we missed the first time. We lean in, perched over the rim, absolutely speechless (which is seriously a big deal for either of us) to find what can only be described as a micro-city. Nestled in its grimy depths, the pool is host to what must be thousands of tiny structures built from what looks like colored plastics, as if this were the burial ground for a million war-torn children's toys. And while hushed, we both perk our ears to what can only be the world's tiniest music wafting up from the southeast corner.