The night the fridge fucked up Pete’s car (Sheldon Birnie)

Look, we only threw that fridge off the balcony because the landlord said it was cool.

When we called him up back in June we told him, Man, this fridge you set us up with conked out. All the food’s fucked. We didn’t tell him whoever got the last beer before passing out the night before had left it open. It was a matter of time, really. Thing was old as fuck to begin with. We asked him, What are you gonna do about it?

Don’t worry about it, he said. I’ll be by later this afternoon.

Next day, he rolls up to the parking lot out back in a rusted-ass GMC with a new-to-us fridge in the back. A couple of us climbed up and got it out. He left us a dolly and a frayed bungee cord and wished us luck hauling it up the rickety wooden staircase to the two-bedroom apartment the four of us had rented off him for the summer.

What do we do with the old one? someone asked. We all looked up at the dead fridge standing sentinel up on the porch behind us.

Landlord, he just shrugged. The rent was like six hundred bucks a month, no goddamn AC, and the place stunk like Subway all day everyday. What did he care?

Wait for a quiet night, he said, hopping back in behind the wheel. Nobody around, just toss‘er off the side. Lemme know, I’ll come pick’er up.

That old fridge, some shade of tan, sat out on that porch the rest of June, all of July, and into August before we finally got it together to get it gone. It was a Saturday night. Some shitty punk bands were playing in the bar across the street. They were bad, sure, but they were fast and loud and it got us fired up. Between sets, a half dozen of us stepped out to get high out back of the pizza place, and someone suggested we toss the fridge. Why not?

We finished off the bag of salvia, and when the singer counted off the start of the next set, we slipped across Manawaka Boulevard and climbed those rickety stairs to our place.

The parking lot below was empty, other than Pete’s car, which was parked at the foot of the staircase. Otherwise there was nothing but gravel clear to the backroad and the marsh or swamp or whatever was in behind there.

Pete was inside the apartment, tripping on shrooms and watching surf videos. We told him he might wanna move his car. He didn’t wanna.

Think you could just, like, clear it? he wondered, scratching his bare belly.

We all went back outside, except Pete. Pete stayed on the couch, pupils wide as saucers. He was fucked. The six of us picked up the fridge, easy peasy. Felt light as a feather. We set it back down. Someone hocked a loogie off the porch, sent it sailing off into the night to land in dust somewhere way beyond Pete’s car. Then we all went back inside and told Pete, We’ll clear your Corolla, no sweat.

Shiiiiiiiit, Pete giggled, rolling himself off the couch onto the floor then somehow into an upright position. Guess I gotta see this.

Back out in the darkness, we picked up the fridge again with ease. Pete took up position by the rail.

Guys, he mumbled, as though trying to convince himself that he ought to be giving the situation at hand more careful deliberation while falling far short of the mark. You think there’s any fuckin aliens up there watching right now?

Hope so, someone said. They’re in for a treat. Count us down, Petey.

Pete obliged. When he hit that go mark, we all stepped forward and heaved our load off into the void.

Man, that sucker flew. Like, right fuckin sailed through the warm August air, clearing the Corolla with an ease that seems hard to believe, looking back on it now. Hell, we coulda lined a couple low list sedans up alongside it and that Frigidaire would have cleared them all. No problemo.

It was the landing that fucked it all up.

When those 400 pounds or whatever that old beast weighed came crashing down the doors blew off on impact. The freezer door spun through the air, slamming into Pete’s passenger side door so hard it blew the window right out. The main fridge door nearly missed the car, but it managed to clip the back end, smashing the tailight to bits and ripping the back fender off. The fridge itself just crumpled, hissing freon up into the night.

Oh shit, we cried, mumbled, or sighed. Except for Pete.

My car, Pete mumbled. I’d like to think he wasn’t crying, but he probably was. Pete was an emotional guy at the best of times. You guys totally fucked up my car, man.

Don’t worry, somebody said. We’ll fix it, Petey. No sweat.

I’d like to think it was me, laying a reassuring hand on Pete’s shoulder, letting him know we had his back. We’ll figure this out, buddy. We’ll tell insurance some kids fucked it up. Fuckin rights we will.

But I was probably just staring up into the stars, wondering if any aliens had actually been watching or not. Had we brought shame upon our world by our actions, or had we provided a fleeting moment of joy to our intergalactic visitors?

I like to think they got a kick out of it, anyway, buzzing around up there just giggling. Pete would have wanted it that way, probably.


Sheldon Birnie is a writer, reporter, and beer league hockey player from Winnipeg, Manitoba, Canada. Find him online @badguybirnie