“Mate, that’s wrong.”
“Give me the saw.”
“What’s the measurement?”
I closed my eyes and started to count. While Kent and I were inside putting the top coat on the joins to create a seamless wall, my brothers were arguing outside over the cornice.
My shoulders ached. My head ached. I was dead tired and not in a good mood.
Bending over, I placed my applicator on the lid of the drum of top coat and walked out to the back door.
John was holding the tape out of Tony’s reach, Andrew was holding the dumb end of the cornice so it didn’t bend or drop but required nothing more of him than to hold, and Shane was pointing the saw at anyone who wasn’t listening.
That was it. They were on the last of my nerves. “SHUT UP!”
Silence. Blissful silence followed as all four of my brothers turned to me.
“The neighbours don’t have to hear you guys arguing over shit. Kent and I can hear you inside.”
“Lori,” Tony started.
“No,” I cut him off. “I appreciate what you have done and I love you for it, but you need to cool it and not fucking scream your heads off. Work together not against each other. John, give the tape to Tony. Shane, stop acting like you’re going to cut a bitch. Measure it and cut it please. Has anyone made the glue for this?”
They shook their heads.
I sighed. “Shane.”
He grumbled, but placed the saw down and went off to mix the glue.
“Has anything been set up inside? Buckets and sponges? A work platform?”
Again, they shook their heads.
Really? They were all outside trying to be the big hero and cut the long length of decorative cornice, but no-one had done the prep work? Fuck. “John, go fill some buckets. I’ll go get the sponges.”
Back inside, I sighed heavily and slumped my shoulders.
Kent hummed. He wasn’t fazed, in fact it looked like he was really enjoying the hard labour.
I went and found sponges, John came in with two buckets and placed them on the floor in the lounge room. Together we set up a work platform using bags of cement at either end of a long plank.
“I’m going to be of no use for this one.” Stepping down from the plank, I pouted. “Too damn short.”
John, a lot less annoyed, laughed. “You get to run around and get shit for us.”
“Make room.” Tony yelled and led the long length of cornice into the house. “We’re buttered and ready to go.”
“Lori, go get the tek gun and a couple of screws to hold this in place,” John gave me a shove.
I hurried off. When I got back, all of the men in the house were on the plank with their arms extended into the air, holding the cornice in place. Oh, this would be the perfect opportunity to tickle those exposed bellies.
But, they were holding my cornice in place and that was more important. Still, I laughed at the possibility. “Here,” I handed the tek gun with its screw up to Tony.
Then there was the rush to smooth out the glue that escaped from behind and fill in any of the gaps. I was of course sponge bitch.
But having six people working for me was great.
I counted again.
Yep, that wasn’t the original number we had at the beginning of the day.
Done, the boys jumped down and headed out back to grab the next cornice. I stared at the extra person.
“Hey,” he grinned at me. “Andrew asked me to drop by and have a look at the place.”
Alex started to look worried. “I’m in real estate.”
Nope, that wasn’t computing.
“Andrew wanted me to see the house to compare it to others on the market.”
I looked around at my brother. He was shaking his head. “I’m not selling your house out from under you.”
“Then why…” I trailed off with the question. He had a smirk. That smirk. The one that said ‘I’ve done something that you wouldn’t have done but don’t fuck this up because you only get one chance’.
I turned back to Alex with a very shy smile of my own. “Andrew didn’t tell me he’d spoken to you.”
Alex shrugged. “I’ve been wanting to see how things have been going here. Did you use the tin?”
“Yep. The kitchen was extended out that way.”
“I never saw what the inside looked like before the change.”
“Well, bring the kitchen back in by a whole heap and remove the laundry on the other side of it. That’s how small this place was.”
“Yep, with the laundry. It was the only place that made sense and fitted in with the plumbing layout.”
Alex swivelled his head round. “Nice sized room. And smart to open the lounge and kitchen up.”
And dining room,” I added.
He smiled a little.
What the hell was he thinking? Was he there purely to see the house? Or was he hoping to see me in the process?
It was missing.
I knew it was gone; no spark.
In fact, it was probably a good thing he never texted me to say hi. After a couple of those plain and boring responses we would’ve ran out of things to say to each other and then awkwardly have left it at that.
But, he was here now, in a pair of jeans, and hands already dirty. “The best way to see this house and get a feel for it, is to give a helping hand around the place.”
Alex looked shocked.
Maybe that had been too rude, to put someone to work as soon as they came to visit. Maybe it was the exploiting boss in me that took hold of the situation and ran with it.
“Okay, only if I get a beer at the end of the job.”
“No beer,” I replied. “Only cider.”