The winter poltegeist that won’t go away by Jim Fabiano


I sat in middle of my cellar in front of the dark green dank smelling monster that just came back to life. It looked like an octopus with its copper colored appendages sticking out in all directions. One large coiled silver arm came out of the top of its body and extended itself through the wall leading to the outside of my house. The other pipes had gadgets on them that was supposed to control the monster’s heat from going into only certain parts of my house.

By the monster lay pieces of its inner self that had been replaced ever since it started to go off in the night. The round metal heart, gray plastic brain, and even the arteries and veins that led to all the important parts of the beast had been replaced hoping it would cure what ailed it. But, it didn’t because as I sat in the middle of my cellar I watched the tiny deep crimson button that lay upon the top of its brain pop up and thus shut the monster off. Again, I was defeated and I had no clue as to why this giant of a machine was deserting me.

My wife tried to get me away from in front of the appliance worrying I might do something foolish like attempt to fix it with a sledgehammer or axe. I told her not to worry because I wasn’t quite that aggravated yet. I just stared at the now comatose engine glaring down at the red button, which kept it from coming to life. After a few seconds I reached out and gently pushed the scarlet source of life and with a clip and a muffled boom the furnace jumped to life with all of the needles of its dials and meters stand at attention ready for the power that was destined to come from the machine.

But, then after a few minutes that dreaded cherry colored button once again sprang up shutting down any hopes that the 31st attempt would be a lucky one.

I finally broke down and called the repairman. I told the receptionist that my furnace was possessed. Possessed is the correct term because every time the repairman came over to check out the furnace it never shut off. It just kept humming along like every good furnace is supposed to do. Every now and then I would catch him glimpse up at me with a kind of, “have you finally gone off the deep end” expression on his face.

Even though the furnace worked the repairman still replaced a few of the parts on the monster attempting to figure out why it had become fickle. He never charged me for the parts because if the furnace continued to shut itself off he explained he would replace the old parts and try something new. Yet every time he replaced this motor or this transformer the furnace would spark into life, stay on for a couple of days and then the dreaded crimson button would again lift its ugly face. It was haunted by some spirit of the past world of furnaces that looked forward to driving me out of my mind.

For the next few weeks I pushed this, banged that, opened something I was afraid would eventually kill my cat, and did things I never thought a sane man would do. I pushed that damned button down hard, soft, at an angle, while rubbing it as if it were something I wanted to like me, and even threatened it with a ball pinned hammer. Nothing worked and if it did work it would tease me into working for a few days only to shut down at the most inopportune time.

The times I am talking about are when either my wife or I are in the shower. It would cease to work when I was late for an appointment and had to run into the cold shower hoping some part of my body wouldn’t fall off just in case I might need it at a future date. After my wife threatened divorce I again called the repairman and asked him to come over to see if he could do something to keep this demon on or should I just break down and go to the nearest Catholic Church in order to hire an exorcist.

The repairman looked up at me, shook his head, and asked me to leave the two of them alone. I followed his instructions went upstairs and had a drink. About an hour later he told me he had figured out the problem and I should call him immediately if the furnace shuts down. He also told me to stop kicking the machine. I wonder how he knew?

So, here I sit in middle of my cellar in front of the dark green monster that just came back to life. I am afraid that if I leave my perch that little red button, which controls the life and soul of the ogre will once again stick out its ugly red tongue.

Jim Fabiano
Email Jim:
Writers Journal column

Author of two books “Laugh it Off” (2003) and “Humor from York Town” (2005)

Author: Jim Fabiano

Jim Fabiano is a retired teacher and writer living in York, Maine and received the Maine Publisher’s Association Best weekly column award for 2004

Leave a Reply

Your email address will not be published. Required fields are marked *