“I just want you to know,” she says, “that you are free to write about us as you see fit. I mean, I know what we look like to some people, and I don’t want you to stifle anything because you feel it presents us in an unflattering light.”
She pauses to take a drag from her cigarette.
“Heck,” she says. “I know what we look like.”
I am sitting on the couch in her living room. T-Bone, a Labrador of Great Sincerity, has his head on my knees and is gazing upward with the expression of one who believes I may have greasy, cat-flavored treats in my coat pockets.
I do not.
I light my own cigarette and blow the smoke toward the candle.
It is 24 degrees Fahrenheit outside (4.4 below Celsius); and inside, we are wearing our boots, coats, and hats. We are not wearing our gloves.
That would be silly.
“Tell me again why today is the day to replace the front door?”
Mary sighs. “Well the new one’s been in the living room for over a month now. It seemed like it was time.”
We gaze out the front door. It is 7:00, her abnormally dark street flanked by mounds of uncooperative snow. She takes a drag off her cigarette. “Check out the headlight.”
The David Mann mural on the wall nearest the front door has been desecrated by the creation of the new frame, the headlight on the friendly trucker’s vehicle now a shattered spattering of Drywall on the floor.
I shook my head sadly. “The chick on the bike still seems pretty happy.”
“Yeah,” Mary shivered. “Well, she’s been painted that way, if ya ask me.”
Eventually, of course, Jon and Justin have the frame square and the inner and outer doors attached to the frame.
It is beautiful.
The two holes in the doors, however, the lonely and unfulfilled spaces that will house the lockset and knob tomorrow whistle aggressively with a driving Arctic wind fresh out of North Dakota.
“Isn’t she beautiful?” asks Jon. He runs a thoughtful hand through the thatch of hair on his head. “Yep, this is going to be one beautiful –”
“JON!” Mary can hardly control herself. “There are HOLES! Ya hear that whistling? Ya feel the cold? Ya smell what I’m cookin’ here, Jon?”
Jon’s eyes alight on mine, and we grin silently. She yells because she cares.
He bursts into laughter. “I’m gonna cover the holes! Don’t you worry!”
Mary pulls back a bit. “OK. So how are the doors going to stay shut all night with that wind?”
Jon winks at me. “Ahhh. See, I got that covered, too.” He pulls the belt off his pants.
“Hey! Hey!” Mary shouts good-naturedly. “This is a family show!”
Jon frowns at her. “Hey, we don’t talk like that.”
Now it’s Mary’s turn to wink at me.
Jon’s already at the door. “Ya see this,” he says, opening both doors, “I’m going to run the belt through the screen door, then through the inner door, and now I’m going to shut them so the belt is caught between the house and the door.”
He straightens up, arching his back. “See that? Minneapolis Security System.”
Mary turns to me. “When you speak of this,” she says, “and I can see by the look on your face that you will, just remember who loves ya.”
She calls the dog over, who jumps into her lap and knocks her backward.
Mary talks baby talk into his neck. “Iddin tha’ right, T-Bone? Iddin tha’ right? Who loves our lives more than we do?”
3 hours ago