He was a city boy and not cut out for life in the country. Borrowed to the Bone. Chapter 23

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Willy’s time in jail was a disguised blessing for Trez. It scared him, made him realize that it could just as easily have been him cooling his heels in the lockup. Though he never thought he would go through with it, Ben Tom’s discussions about moving away made Trez feel more vulnerable. He had always felt safer around Ben Tom than either of his parents. He had never had a home where he felt secure and he desperately wanted one now.

So that he could save for a place of his own, he used his slim good looks and gift of gab to persuade an attractive woman in the middle of a divorce to let him live with her rent free. He moved into her house and into her bed.

At work, he cajoled Ben Tom into looking for a house he might be able to afford. Ben Tom agreed, under the proviso that Trez would show up every day for work sober and stay sober all day. He would also be expected to work overtime when Ben Tom needed him to, something Trez had almost always refused to do. Trez agreed not only to work overtime when requested, but to volunteer for it. Like Ben Tom, he was a natural on the walkers and an exceptional drywall man.

He knuckled down and worked steadily the entire year Willy was incarcerated. After eleven months, Trez showed his brother a wad of hundreds he kept hidden in a jelly jar. “Enough for a down payment. Now you need to find me a house.”

It took less than a month for Ben Tom to find a repossessed home that was a good buy. Built in the 1920’s, the previous owner had underestimated the cost of restoring it to its former glory. Ben Tom saw that as a challenge, not an obstacle, something to keep Trez busy. He helped his brother complete his bid paperwork and cosigned a mortgage.

When it was time to move in, Trez immediately dropped his girlfriend and went back to his old habits. He laid off work most days, luxuriating in the best home he had ever inhabited.

When he got low on cash he showed up at one of his brother’s jobs after enjoying a few joints. After two lunchtime beers, Trez challenged his older brother to a race. Ben Tom scoffed at the challenge, but Trez found two identical walls and chided him for being afraid to face his younger brother and lose his undefeated status.

Both walls had to be done, so Ben Tom stepped into his walkers and started one. Without a race being declared, Willy began on the opposite wall. As usual, Ben Tom did not let the quality of his work suffer because of speed. He was both fast and good.

A half hour later, only three sheets of rock sat on his scaffold to be installed. But only two remained on Trez’s. Ben Tom had ignored his brother until then, but looked over his shoulder as Trez engaged in catcalls and laughter. “Better pick it up, brother. You’re one behind.”

Ben Tom tried to slow his pace to allow his brother to win, but just could not keep from showing his almost inhuman speed with rock and a screw gun. He put up his three sheets before Trez could finish two. When they both stepped down, Ben Tom snickered when he saw Trez’s wall. “Just like I figured. You got in a hurry to beat me and did shoddy work. You’ll have to do that wall over.”

Trez looked at his brother’s wall with panels so flush and straight that they could almost be painted without taping and bedding. His own wall could only be described as irregular. “There’s something wrong with a man who takes that many pains with something that’s gonna be covered up, anyway.”

Ben Tom shook his head. “The hell you say. Do it over. They’ll have to put a bucket full of mud in some of those cracks you left. ”

“That’s what taping and bedding is for. Won’t be able to tell yours from mine when that’s done.”

“I’ll be able to tell. Somebody tries to drive a nail to hang a picture and gets in the mud, they’ll blame me. This is my job and you do that wall over.”

Never one to take anything seriously, Trez got on his walkers and started unscrewing and adjusting. “I expect to collect overtime for this.”

Ben Tom left him to finish. He had told his mother and father and Willy, even Buck, that he was moving his family. The only one who did not know for sure was Trez and he did not want to tell him at work. He parked by White Rock Lake and waited for Trez to pass, then followed him down the middle class street. When Ben Tom pulled in the driveway, Trez was already sitting on the porch of his new home.

Trez alternately sipped a beer and drew on a joint. The house still needed the repairs Trez had vowed to make as soon as the mortgage was approved.

Ben Tom leaned on a porch post and pointed up. “What happened to replacing those fascia boards and repairing these eaves?”

Trez smiled through a haze of smoke. “Don’t worry, big brother. I’ll get around to it.”

“Cops are gonna come by here one day and arrest you for that. You ever gonna get around to coming back to work on a regular basis?”

“Funny you mention that. I was planning on showing up again in the morning. Where do you want me?”

“I don’t want you anywhere. I’m done with that job. I just stopped by to tell you I’m moving.”

Trez dropped the remnants of the joint into the empty can of beer. “The hell, you say.”

Ben Tom told him the details and Trez seemed more disturbed than Willy had been when he heard about the move. But it took him only a few minutes to crack another beer and feign indifference. “Well, I give you six months in Podunk. Hell, you a city boy. Ain’t cut out for country life.”




Chapters of the serial are published on Friday.

You can learn more about Borrowed to the Bone and other titles by Jim H. Ainsworth on his Amazon Author Page.

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