December 11, 2017

 

Fevered Dreaming 08

 
 
 

"Growing Old"

Ted Gnarles called the Sunshade company and had them stop by for a free estimate on what it would cost to cover the back yard, all but the last ten feet in front of his privacy fence. All the houses were built with those fences in this part of the world, and Ted was glad of it. He was 85 and some days he just didn't want to have the hassle of having neighbors peek over the fence to see if he was still alive. I bought this house and paid for it, the old man thought. I think that if I up and die in it, it's my right to do so. At least until the taxes come due, and then they can come clean me up. He wanted the last ten feet to get the hot sun, because his tomatoes got planted there every year, and if they didn't get enough sun, the blossoms wouldn't set worth a dang.

And darned if tomatoes weren't one of the few things in life he could really enjoy any more.

"I don't want a total block of the sun," Ted told the whippersnapper they sent to look over the project. "I just want to cut the edge off the sun, and block the view from my neighbor's upstairs in case I take it to mind to lie out in the afternoon in the all-together, if you catch my meaning."

"Yes, sir, we can put up a Sunshade that will be nearly opaque to the neighbors, and give you an SPF of about 50. You won't have to take it down in the winter because water won't bother it -- the rain will just clean if off nice for you and be ready for you in the spring. And it's mildew-resistant; our company has a fungicide built right into the fabric." The young boob withdrew a cell phone from his pocket and pressed a button. "Yah, Hank, I've got an area fifty feet by thirty to cover with Number Four Sunshade. Supports every ten feet, what's that going to come to at forty nine cents a square foot of 'Shade and ten forty nine per post?"

Ted scratched at his beard and itched for a pen and paper to figure it out. All the kid had to do was multiply fifty feet by thirty feet, and then multiply that by forty nine cents. There would have to be twenty four posts ...

"Sorry, Mr. Gnarles, Hank has to answer another phone call, he'll get right back to me with the estimated cost."

"Does your price on the Sunshade per foot and per post include labor?" Ted asked him, combing the mussed spots on his beard with his fingers.

"Yes sir, it sure does."

Ted hobbled back into his house, and snatched a paper pad usually used for grocery lists. He scribbled numbers, multiplied them, then added them. He went back outside.

"Sounds like it ought to cost about nine hundred ninety-three dollars and ninety-six cents," he said to the younger man.

"What, Hank? You got it? Okay, let me write that down. Mr. Gnarles, the price would be nine hundred ninety-three dollars and ninety-six cents."

"That's what I just said. You have to call someone else to find out a cost per square foot?"

The mere punk laughed. "Yeah, Hank sure knows his way around a calculator. So that's our estimate. Can I get you to sign here that you've received our offer?"

"Yes, I can. When can you fellas get the job done?" Ted scrawled his name across the bottom of the estimate, his knuckles looking pink where the bones had gathered arthritis over the years.

"Oh, you're ready? Let me call Hank back, I'll find out when the next crew is available."

Next thing you know, he'll have to call Hank to ask if it's time for him to go to the bathroom, Ted thought irritably. He can't figure out how to multiply, he doesn't know what the company's work crew is doing -- why did they give him a job? Just because he has a full head of hair and talks loud? I could do his job, even with my hip replacement and these thick glasses. And I wouldn't have to call Hank every couple minutes to see if I had a box of tissues in the truck in case I had to pick my nose.

"Ohhh-kay! We can be out here next Thursday to set the posts, and the following Monday to cover the yard with Sunshade. How does that sound, Mr. Gnarles?"

"Hunky dory," Ted told him. "Then I can set out my orchids. Orchids need some bright light, but they don't like the scorching sun. Heat doesn't bother them too much, so they'll do just fine and dandy out here once that screening is up."

"You're into orchids? That's cool. Is that what all those big pots are for?" The kid was writing up the work order for the next week.

"Hey, son, I love exotic plants. By June I'll be out here with my shrubs and a mister and a nice light tan to cover my liver spots. Maybe I'll entice some young chick in her sixties to come give me some sugar in between naps."

The sales rep laughed out loud. "Here you are, Mr. Gnarles. I just need that signature one more time, there, by the 'X'. You're on your way to a healthier, cooler back yard." He shook Ted's hand, already looking over his shoulder at the gate that led to the street.

Ted closed the gate behind the lout, and put the lock on it. He shuffled into his house in his worn slippers and climbed the steps to the second floor. Lined up in three rows by the back window were twenty one little plants in styrofoam cups. They had nice thick stems and bushy little leaves like many-fingered hands. "Did you hear all of that? You and the orchids get to go outside to play next week. You're going to love it."

Tenderly he nipped the topmost set of leaves off each plant to encourage thicker foliage. On his way back downstairs, he tossed the picked sprouts into his mouth and chewed them. Then he poured a soda over ice, picked up the bag of potato chips, and settled into his recliner to watch the latest news.

Article © Sand Pilarski. All rights reserved.
Published on 2009-10-05


1 Reader Comments

Mary
10/12/2009
10:12:19 AM

Love it!

Add your own comments!
The Piker Press moderates all comments. The commenting policy can be found
here.
Name

Email

Comments




In the same series:

Fever Dreams 117
Fever Dreams 106
Fever Dreams 131: With No Announcement
Fevered Dreaming 08
Fevered Dreaming 07
Fevered Dreaming 06
Fevered Dreaming 05
Fevered Dreaming 04
Fever Dreams 130
Fever Dreams 129
Fever Dreams 128
Fever Dreams 127
Fever Dreams 126
Fevered Dreaming 03
Fevered Dreaming 02
Fevered Dreaming 01
Fever Dreams 069
Fever Dreams 124
Fever Dreams 123
Fever Dreams 122
Fever Dreams 121
Fever Dreams 120
Fever Dreams 119
Fever Dreams 118
Fever Dreams 113
Fever Dreams 112
Fever Dreams 111
Fever Dreams 110
Fever Dreams 109
Fever Dreams 108
Fever Dreams 107
Fever Dreams 105
Fever Dreams Classic
Fever Dreams 104
Fever Dreams 103
Fever Dreams 102
Fever Dreams Classic
Fever Dreams 101
Fever Dreams 100
Fever Dreams 099
Fever Dreams 098
Fever Dreams 097
Fever Dreams 096
Fever Dreams 095
Fever Dreams 094
Fever Dreams 023
Fever Dreams 093
Fever Dreams 092
Fever Dreams 091
Fever Dreams 090
Fever Dreams 089
Fever Dreams 004
Fever Dreams 075
Fever Dreams 059
Fever Dreams 088
Fever Dreams 087
Fever Dreams 086
Fever Dreams 085
Fever Dreams 084
Fever Dreams 083
Fever Dreams 082
Fever Dreams 081
Fever Dreams 080
Fever Dreams Valentine
Fever Dreams 079
Fever Dreams 078
Fever Dreams 077
Fever Dreams 076
Fever Dreams 074
Fever Dreams 073
Fever Dreams 072
Fever Dreams 071
Fever Dreams 070
Fever Dreams 068
Fever Dreams 067
Fever Dreams 066
Fever Dreams 065
Fever Dreams 064
Fever Dreams 063
Fever Dreams 062
Fever Dreams 061
Fever Dreams 060
Fever Dreams 058
Fever Dreams 057
Fever Dreams 056
Fever Dreams 055
Fever Dreams 054
Fever Dreams 053
Fever Dreams 052
Fever Dreams 051
Fever Dreams 050
Fever Dreams 005
Fever Dreams 049
Fever Dreams 048
Fever Dreams 047
Fever Dreams 046
Fever Dreams 045
Fever Dreams 044
Fever Dreams 043
Fever Dreams 042
Fever Dreams 041
Fever Dreams 040
Fever Dreams 039
Fever Dreams 010
Fever Dreams 038
Fever Dreams 037
Fever Dreams 036
Fever Dreams 035
Fever Dreams 034
Fever Dreams 033
Fever Dreams 032
Fever Dreams 031
Fever Dreams 030
Fever Dreams 029
Fever Dreams 028
Fever Dreams 027
Fever Dreams 025
Fever Dreams 024
Fever Dreams 022
Fever Dreams 021
Fever Dreams 020
Fever Dreams 019
Fever Dreams 018
Fever Dreams 017
Fever Dreams 016
Fever Dreams 015
Fever Dreams 014
Fever Dreams 013
Fever Dreams 012
Fever Dreams 011
Fever Dreams 009
Fever Dreams 007
Fever Dreams 006
Fever Dreams 008
Fever Dreams 003
Fever Dreams 002
Fever Dreams 001

Other articles by Sand Pilarski you might enjoy...

After Life 07
After Life 06
After Life 05
After Life 04
After Life 03
After Life 02
After Life
The Accursed
Remembered Flavors: Tony's Salad and Firehouse Chicken
Out with the Trash 32
Out with the Trash 31
Out with the Trash 30
Out with the Trash 29
Out with the Trash 28
Out with the Trash 27
Out with the Trash 26
Out with the Trash 25
Out with the Trash 24
Out with the Trash 23
Out with the Trash
Out with the Trash 21
Out with the Trash 20
Out with the Trash 19
Out with the Trash 18
Out with the Trash 17
Super Sport: Book Review
Out with the Trash 16
Out with the Trash 15
Out with the Trash 14
Out with the Trash 13