Web Site: Virginia Tolles, Author
Each gives to the other, oftentimes in subtle ways that are not recognizable to others.
He was a tough old tomcat. At least, that’s how his wife described him. He didn’t feel compelled to argue with her. Actually, he felt flattered.
Besides, one glance in the bathroom mirror each morning proved the statement to be true . Two scars were remnant of the time he’d rolled his Wrangler when the danged thing had blown a tire as it climbed a boulder. Those were just the two scars on his face. There were others.
He still went off-roading – when he could make his wife believe he was going out to his favorite fishing hole. That didn’t happen often; she knew him too well. He just didn’t let his tires get so thin before he replaced them. Not anymore.
Lately, there hadn’t been time for off-roading or fishing. He’d managed to convince his wife that they needed a log home. That had taken some doing, for she had wanted a dainty little French country cottage. He’d won her over by convincing her that her collection of wormwood furniture would look fine against the rustic logs. Of course, agreeing to let her have interior walls that mimicked the worn plaster ones old French houses hadn’t hurt.
He’d bought a kit, and the manufacturer had erected the exterior shell of the house. He’d installed the green-clad windows, himself, although he’d farmed out the installation of the chinking and a green tin roof. Earlier, he had hired a contractor to pour a basement and the foundation walls. Now, it was up to him to finish out the interior. He was making progress. It was slow going, but he was making progress.
Now, with the interior walls framed, his wife showed up – with her interior designer friend. Damn! If he left those two former school chums to their own devices, they’d have nursery ducks and rabbits prancing around every room in the place!
His wife called his name. Feigning impatience, he walked over to her.
“I think we need the fireplace to be stones like these, instead of the river rocks,” she said. “The large, charcoal-gray stones are going to be overwhelming. These narrow, thinly laid stones have a softer appearance, don’t you think?” she asked him.
“Not bad,” he allowed. Actually, he did like the thin stones better, but he wasn’t sure it would be wise to admit it.
“And this log veneer on the interior walls in the great-room and your study,” she went on. “See? They match the whole logs on the exterior walls. We can order them from the same company.”
He nodded as he studied the samples. “Okay. I can go with that,” he agreed.
He studied his wife. She was surprising him. Not only was she considering what he would like in the rooms he would most often frequent, but she hadn’t mentioned a single nursery duck or rabbit.
“So, I guess you’re gonna want rabbits or something…,” he started.
She cut him off with a derisive glare. “Oh, please! This is our home, not a day-care center.”
He felt a grin starting to cross his face. “None of those pink and blue critters, huh, running around the tops of the walls?”
“Not unless you’ve sired a child I don’t know about,” she snapped.
“You know better, Red,” he replied, using his pet name for his wife. Her titan hair fascinated him in a way he could not possibly have described. “So, what did you have in mind for our room?”
“The bedroom suite we saw up at Barton’s Furniture Store a few weeks ago.”
“That could work,” he allowed as he recalled the traditionally styled furniture with turned spindles and a golden oak stain on wormwood. “What kind of cover are you gonna put on the bed?”
“I haven’t decided, yet, but we’re still going through the swatches.”
“Swatches, huh? Well, okay, but let me see it before you buy it.”
“Of course! This is our house, isn’t it?”
“Just so you remember that,” he pretended to snarl.
In reply, she stuck one of his favorite cigars in his mouth. He never lit them, not anymore, not since he’d accidentally set fire to his newspaper and nearly destroyed his favorite chair before he’d managed to extinguish the blaze. That did not stop him from chomping down on the rolled tobacco.
“We did think you might like this for your chair,” she said as she passed a swatch of sage-green tweed to him.
He nodded in approval. “Yeah. This’ll work. Nicer than that other fabric was.”
“It will look real well against the log walls, too, don’t you think?” she asked him.
He held the swatch up to the interior side of a log wall and nodded. “Yeah. That will work just fine,” he said as he handed it back to her. “Have anything else?”
“Not yet, but we’ll keep you posted,” the decorator told him.
“Right!” he replied as he turned back to his work.
As the women walked outside, he heard the decorator ask his wife, “How can you stand being married to him?”
“Oh, that’s all bluff and bravado. Deep down, he’s a pussy cat,” he heard his wife say.
“Sure, he is,” the decorator replied dubiously. “He looks like a beaten-up tomcat and sounds like one that’s been run over by a truck.”
“Tell him that. He’ll be flattered,” his wife replied.
“No, thank you! I’d rather live a few more years,” the decorator insisted.
He watched as his wife waved off her friend and stepped into her car. As it disappeared around a bend in the road, he snorted and started back to work.
“Pussy cat? Pussy cat? Looks like I’m gonna have to teach her a thing or two.” But, then, he chuckled. Yeah, well, he supposed it would be alright for Red to know him that well. No one else was going to, though. He’d see to that!
Sitting on an inverted pail of joint compound, he took up a brochure and began reading the instructions for applying the compound unevenly in order to give sheetrock the look of a worn and unevenly plastered wall.
Then, taking up some surplus sheetrock and a trowel, he began practicing. It had to be just right. After all, these walls were going to be in Red’s French country dining-room.
Copyright © 2007 by Virginia Tolles. All rights reserved.
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|Reviewed by Guy Hogan
|Very nice, very nice. I can't tell you how much I appreciated all of the concrete details. The story has a very tactile feel to it. And the ending, he's going to decorate her French country dining-room, is just the right subtle twist to end the story with.|
|Reviewed by Karen Lynn Vidra, The Texas Tornado
|Good story, Virginia; very well done! BRAVA!
(((HUGS))) and much love, your friend in Tx., Karen Lynn. :D