One Man’s Story – Chapter 8

My next call was to an older couple that I had done a lot of work for in the past. Mr and Mrs Porteus-Brown were heavily involved in the Town Council for the small town in which we lived. He was very active working with young kids that were heading for trouble and she was a retired schoolteacher. Both were very pleasant to talk to and it was always a pleasure working for them. This time around, they wanted to change out their garage door, repaint the entire outside of the house and make sundry repairs where needed. As I walked around with him, he pointed out what he saw and told me to include enough in the estimate to cover any other areas needing attention. I bade him goodbye and moved on to my next client who was only a couple of blocks away.

This was the home of Louisa Johnston, no relation to Harvey who worked for us. She greeted me as though we were long-lost friends but that was always her way. She was a very outgoing and effervescent lady, with a ready smile. “Come in, come in”, she exclaimed when she answered the door. “It’s good to see you again. How have you been, how’s the wife” and on and on she prattled as though I was her long-lost Dad or brother and she hadn’t seen them in a while.

I should explain that Louisa Johnston had a bit of a reputation around town. She was a single lady having divorced her husband after she caught him in bed with the cleaning lady. At least, that’s how the story goes and Louisa was the only one who knew the truth to that story. She was an attractive lady, probably in her mid forties just beginning to lose her shape with still enough of it left to make her interesting. Another five years and she would have a hard time disguising the extra weight.

I told her I was fine as was Jody and thank you for asking. “Coffee” she asked and poured me a cup. I sat down at her kitchen table to  drink it and listen to her stories. She seemed to have a lot of them and boy, could she talk. I thought to myself, no wonder her ex-husband ended up in bed with another woman. He was probably just glad to get away from her.

“What do you want done” I asked? She got up and looked out the window. “I would like to have a double garage built right there” as she pointed to a spot out in the yard. I got up and stood alongside of her. I could smell a very faint smell of perfume and all of a sudden, was very aware that she was a good-looking woman. I moved back a step as though to have a better look at the spot she was indicating but in reality, I had to step back in order to resist the urge to kiss her. “Lets go out and take a look” I said hoping the fresh air would help me clear my head. I followed her outside making sure to keep some distance between us and went over the details as I understood them. I made lots of notes and rough sketches that I showed her. She liked what she saw and asked me to work up a rough estimate and then she could decide if she wanted to go ahead. She moved closer to me again, this time touching me on the arm. I jumped and she laughed and said”Sorry, didn’t mean to startle you”.

She did not appear to be aware of the effect she was having on me or if she did, she hid it very well. I made some lame excuse that I have another appointment bade her goodbye with the promise that I would rough out an estimate for her and then give her a call.

I sat in my car with the pretence of looking at my notes but in reality, I was weighing up the odds of having an affair with Mrs Johnston. I got through the rest of the afternoon and headed back to the office where the crew had just returned from building the cellar. Mike was moaning and groaning about lifting 12 inch blocks all day and “I don’t know how I can hold a glass of beer this evening as my bloody arms are falling off”. We all laughed and Bill said, “You’ll find a way. Trust me”.

I looked at the cabinet doors that Glen had been working on and as usual, they were first class work. I felt real lucky that he worked for me. One of the jobs I had looked at that afternoon had some cabinets in it. I went over the rough sketches I had made with Glen and looked for some ideas. He came up with a couple of suggestions which I said I would include and “Thanks very much”.

The next day, it was raining. As much as possible, I tried to keep the men busy on these sort of days when the weather didn’t cooperate. We had another project in a big warehouse that I had planned on starting when the Alisford Estates project was finished but made a couple of calls and made arrangements for the crew to go to it and start the demolition work. I drove over with them and went over what needed to be done with Bill. He sent the two helpers back to the yard to pick up dust covers and other miscellaneous stuff and went to work on knocking down an old brick wall. We planned on keeping the brick to use to patch the building in a couple of other places so demolition was not a case of a sledgehammer and brawn but more of hammer and chisel with a bit of finesse.

Link to Chapter 9

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