We left our story with an alley jammed full of compost.

I’d blocked off a good fifty feet of curbside on the street with garbage bins. He had plenty of room to maneuver. He parked at the curb and began backing up until he was about five feet away from a shiny Toyota. “You could pull up a little, if you want,” I said, helpfully, but Rick didn’t want, and he started to lift the bed skyward, and soil started to blop out onto the curb. The truck bed had to get pretty high to dump it all, and I saw the reasoning behind his position: there were three power lines going across the street and he had to avoid hitting them.

I’m happy he thought of it. One time a truck driver dropped off a dumpster at the head of the street and then drove off without lowering his hydraulic apparatus and proceeded to rip out every power line for two blocks. Sparks flew, neighbors ran after him yelling, and on and on he went like a heedless Brachiosaur at the head of a parade.

Anyway, the soil shlumped down in a gigantic neat pile within two feet of the Toyota. Rick got out to check, and then got back in the cab, threw it into reverse, and gunned it for one nanosecond, dislodging the remainder of my compost.

“You scared me,” I said. “I thought you were going to bury that Toyota!”

Rick grinned wickedly. “I could,” he drawled. This is clearly the foundation of his cheer. If you’re in his way he can the hell move you. If you don’t want to be moved he can the hell bury you. He and his Big Ass truck hove off happily—even the truck was whistling a merry tune–and left me to it.

Fun! Nine yards of compost to redistribute. Unfortunately, it is fast approaching winter, it’s now 3pm, and daylight is in shorter supply. I had to do triage.

I started on the street pile, removing the parts that shlorped onto the sidewalk and taking a couple feet off the part intruding on traffic. But people could still drive by. I went back to the alley side in deep dusk. That seemed the priority: get the pile out of the alley in case anyone wanted to drive through.

Well that wasn’t going to happen before dark. A man walking his dog happened by and assured me he could walk on the far side of the pile, but was soon grabbed and shaken by a rogue blackberry vine that also stole his wallet and made fun of him on the internet. My path was clear: clear the path. I excavated enough of the pile that a narrowly-constructed pedestrian could get past on our side. That was all I could do.

Later that evening I fretted. There’s a streetlight in the alley—one—but was it enough to illuminate the pile? The big, black pile? What if someone decided to take the alley at excessive speed? It seemed possible he would be buried up to his fourth cupholder in steaming compost.

Somewhere in the recesses of my brain, which is unkempt and windswept, was a memory of a bright orange safety cone in our basement. I should put that cone out in front of the pile! At least in one direction. I went downstairs. I found it. It was Pootie’s safety cone. It is four inches high.

Hell, I thought. If someone is coming down our alley fast enough to not notice the big black wall, they deserve to be buried. I could use a new car. Even if I have to pluck it out of a steaming pile of compost, it would be cleaner than my car.