Reunion (7)…

You can find earlier excerpts from The Reunion here

Brian pulled into the pitted lot at the Inn and wondered how much resurfacing the lot was going to cost.  Thousands, he was sure, even out here in the middle of nowhere, Iowa.  He headed for the door, letting himself in with the old set of keys he had and taking in the smell of sawdust and varnish.  It didn’t look half bad, considering they’d only been working on it a few weeks.  The lobby area would be finished in time for the reunion to be held there, with brand new polished and stained oak floors.  And the kitchen was serviceable, even if most of the updates hadn’t been completed yet.  But at least there were working appliances and enough space to lay out the buffet and have ice for drinks.  If the crowd was big enough, it might convince some people this would be a great place to stay next time they were in town, or even to hold a big event like a wedding.

The sound of trucks pulling up meant that the Sawyer brothers were here to help.  Jim  had been in the same class as Brian and Jen and his younger brother, Billy, only a few grades behind.  They had started a construction business after graduating from school.  Brian knew Jim had gone on to the University of Nebraska and had a business degree.  He wasn’t sure about Billy, though.

“Hey, Bri, how you doing today?  We ready to start staining the floors yet?”  Jim was efficient and organized and always worked quickly.  Brian couldn’t have asked for better help on this project.

“Well, I don’t know about staining yet.  Maybe we better check the sanding job that Billy did yesterday and see if it’s up to par,” Brian smiled.  Billy looked shocked for a minute, then his suntanned face relaxed into a smile.  “Pulling my leg, huh, Bri?”  Billy was as good as Jim at what he did and Brian had no qualms that the floors would be ready if Billy said they were.

“Everything is looking great.  You’d never even know the crown molding was reproduction.  Looks like it grew there.  How’d you learn to do those corners?”  Brian knew carpentry and design, but what Jim and Billy did was really art and he knew that his skills in that area wouldn’t touch theirs.  “Where you boys been working all this time?”

Jim just smiled and kept on sweeping up sawdust and getting the vacuum ready to clean up every dust mote in the room.  “You know how daddy was.  He never even finished fourth grade, but he could build with the best of ‘em.  ‘Measure twice, cut once,’ I think that was his favorite saying.  And Billy and I worked a lot of summers when they were building some of those subdivisions down by Falls Creek.  Best way to learn the business.”

“Well, boys, let’s get to it, then.  Need to at least have this area looking good by next Saturday night.”

Billy frowned.  “You still planning on all those people for the reunion walking on these brand new floors by then?  It takes the finish awhile to cure, you know, and you’re going to be taking a chance on them getting scuffed or scratched before the place is even open.”

“Yeah, I know, but we’ll see if this new polyurethane finish is really diamond hard like it says on the cans!”  Brian chugged the last of his coffee and they set to work.  He was acting as the general contractor and they still had plumbing and electrical guys coming out, so getting the floors done as soon as possible made sense.

“Hey, guess who showed up at the house yesterday?  Jen Meyer, looking all big city pretty with some fluffy kind of dog.  Figured she might come for the reunion, but Pam didn’t tell me she was coming in on Friday.  And I guess she didn’t tell Jen I was renting the house, either, cause I scared her half to death when I came downstairs and she was already inside, doing some yoga exercise or something.”  He smiled again at the memory and Jim and Billy looked at each other quickly, wondering what was up.  The Jen they remembered was sweet, but clumsy and shy and wouldn’t know yoga if it bit her on the –

Seeing the look the two men exchanged, Brian sighed.  “Yeah, I know, but she’s doing great now.  Hey, Jim, wasn’t she friends with your –“

The sound of the industrial vac turning on drowned out the rest of Brian’s question.  O-kaay.  Apparently coffee talk was over.

 

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