Demo Days

A young woman struggles to keep her great-grandfather's house from the wrecking ball.

Peddy Larmer engaged the e-brake after pulling the key from her old Volvo's ignition.  As a matter of habit, she grabbed the hardhat from the passenger's seat before stepping out of the vehicle and taking stock of the yard which she knew was once immaculate.  This had been her great-grandparents' place, and when Peddy was a little girl, she had spent so many days running through the lush green backyard with her brother, Kiev, chasing butterflies.

Those days were now just distant memories, locked safely away from her adult eyes, which currently looked upon the ramshackle and overgrown property with a grimace of disdain.  She perched the hardhat atop her head and stuffed her hands into her pockets as she miserably approached the old abandoned house she barely recognized.

The high weeds muffled most of the noise, but as she wended her way through them toward the back door the unmistakable din of men at work with their power tools assaulted her ears.

She nearly ran into Josh McIntle as she was climbing the rickety old stairs and he was exiting through the back door.  He was young and pleasant enough, sort of the unofficial foreman while the real foreman was away in some casino somewhere, blowing his pension.

"Oh, hi!" he stopped dead on the top step and dribbled a little coffee from his mug as he did so.

Peddy looked up at him and blushed a little, "Sorry."

"Listen, I'm glad you're here.  We found something cool this morning."

"Oh yeah?  Like a metric ton of gold bullion buried inside the cellar walls?  Enough to save old Grampa Reggie's place?"

Josh had a series of rolled blueprints wedged under his arm.  These he passed off to one of his subordinates, a Wally or Wayne-Something, as they backtracked into the building and bade Peddy to follow.

"I'm afraid not," he conceded with a nod of his head, "you would certainly need a lot of bullion to make up for the back taxes owed on this property, from what I'm told, Miss Larmer."

"Peddy's fine."

Josh grinned, "I know.  You always tell me that, but I guess I'm a little more formal for my own good.  Would you like some coffee?"

She envisioned a pouch of that powdered stuff getting added to a large mug of boiling water at five O'clock in the morning and then unceremoniously dumped into a dinged-up Thermos, only to wait in the back of Josh's equally dinged-up pick-up truck until it congealed into a tepid sludge.  She hid her revulsion as she smiled sweetly and said, "No thank you."

He nodded and led her through the skeletal remains of the kitchen.  Adele Larmer had died when Peddy was quite young, but Peddy still held on to occasional snatches of memory, such as holding on to Great Gramma's apron strings as she "helped" bake cookies.  Peddy couldn't have been much older than four then, because Great Gramma Larmer was gone before Peddy's fifth birthday.  And even though little remained of the tiny kitchen, Peddy remembered all the smells and sights from her knee-high perspective.  It still seemed as bright and alive as her great grandparents had been.

"Are you all right, Miss Larmer?"

"Hmm?  Yes, why?"

Josh said nothing but touched the corner of his eye.

She did the same and pulled away with a wet fingertip.  Oh damn!  Had she really been crying?  She smiled at Josh and nodded.  She said, simply, "Memories," and he understood without another comment.

The End

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