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Thursday, Jan. 19, 2006
Not to play into the day to day stuff anymore than I have to, but I can’t resist. The lad with the real estate venture thing? Whose under renovation house was left open for me to plunder yesterday?

He hath been smitten by the fascination of Outfoxed.

I met him over there in the rain yesterday morning. Yeah, the rain, but it wasn’t as bad as I built it up to be in my mind. Stuff like that never turns out to be that bad, does it. I yanked moulding out of the truck, tossed it through the open window and that was that. Well, that and lugging in every tool in the arsenal, of course.

But I set up fairly quickly and pre-cut some crown mould, and he made his exit for parts unknown with a cheery “I’ll be back in a while m’man!” and a squeak of tires on the driveway.

Suited me fine. I work way better alone. Having an audience tends to annoy, and all.

In the lesser part of two hours the crown was nearly up. 14 x 17 room, coped joints all around, pretty straightforward. Except when it came to the last piece. Which to my disgust I didn’t have. Estimating quantities and having the sense to get enough stuff to finish the job is supposed to be what I’m all about. I was short one stick of crown.

So when Big Daddy (that’s Mr. Real Estate, I have no idea how he got that moniker and don’t want to know) came rolling back, I was a little embarrassed. “I need another stick of crown, Big Daddy. Damned if I know how I farked up the quantity.”

He was gaping at the ceiling. “Whoo, you got all this up already? God it looks good in here! Gonna start on the window trim now?” I allowed as to how yes, that was the plan, and he darted off to get me a stick of crown.

And he now sooner left than ex-Corporate Partner Stu came rolling in.

Now Stu and I have been ‘divorced’, Corporate wise, since last July. We don’t work together. I see him all the time at the Watering Hole, we talk and are friendly enough. There’s still some minor stuff we have to work out with the ex-business. That sort of thing.

“Hey, saw the truck out front and figured I’d stop in. How’s it goin’?”

He judged the crown, pronounced it fine, we broke out a beer and shot the breeze. It was time for a break at any rate. But there’s this, I don’t know, thing. And he and I did it all the time when we were working together - it’s the ‘I don’t work in front of strangers’ thing. Stu is hardly a stranger, neither is Big Daddy for that matter. But I just don’t feel altogether comfortable working when somebody else is hanging around.

Big Daddy showed up with the errant piece of crown and a six-pack, and he and Stu fell to, yanking pull tabs and yakking in the ageless way of grown men without female oversight. Which left me to either join in or get my ass to work.

I teetered. But the work ethic won out. Narrowly.

I cut the two ends of crown and pulled out the coping saw, casually culling the end of the board. Big Daddy and Stu were into something about real estate prices but I could feel the eyes following every move. I switched ends, coped the crown and stood back, with Stu and Big Daddy comfortably ensconced and carrying on.

“. . . yeah and I looked at that other house and the damn siding was half falling off, so I wound up buying this place and let me tell you . . .”

“ . . .well ye ought to get your price for it, and with Outfoxed here you can get a whole lot more done, fix that deck out back and . . .”

I sighed. They weren’t gonna leave until I’d done something, anything, of a work related nature. And I hate that. There was to be no denying them the pleasure of seeing me toss a board on the wall. Right or wrong, good fit or not. I’ve been down this road before. Put up a board with an audience, find that your fit is bad and you get the heeing and the hawing, or worse, the suggestions on how to improve it.

Remember, I had no more crown, in case the damned thing didn’t fit. And it was a longish sort of piece, a nine footer.

I took a deep breath, and approached the ladder with a subtle hush falling on the room. Showtime.

I socked the left end home, cranking the crown out to the proper angle for fit, twisted the board to create a springing effect, and slid the right hand end into place.

There’s times you just know, or the hands know and the brain follows. I let go of the thing and it twanged just like a bowstring after an arrow is let fly, and the crown thwacked the wall and ceiling and that imperceptible gush of air hit me in the face.

I looked, but it was all over. You have to be ever so casual at times like these.

“Damn,” Big Daddy breathed. “That’s cool as all fire, ain’t it? Look how those joints sucked together there, Stu.” He took a big gulp of beer. “Boy knows his shit, don’t he?”

“That he do, Big Daddy, that he do.”

Why, I even let Big Daddy pay me, at the end of the day. And right now he’s wondering why I haven’t called him already about that deck out back.

Making them wait for encores? Oh yeah, you better believe it.

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