"You sure you have a good grip on your end?"
"You sure you’re sure?"
"Just keep pushing," grumbled Corb. "That's it...push...PUSH! And don’t—ouch! Ted, stop that!"
Okay, before your minds sink any further into the gutter, I should tell you that Corb and I were in the process of lifting a heavy futon up a flight of stairs, and I had just given it a bit too much heave-ho, heaving the end of the futon into Corb's firm, tight buttocks.
"Sorry about that, Corb," I said, sheepishly. I sat there, waiting patiently at the bottom of the stairs, while Corb placed his end down for a minute.
During our brief rest, Annie's slacker boyfriend, Chad, entered from the front door, his arms empty of bags or items. He took a look at us, lifting HIS futon up the stairs, smiled, and made his way to the second floor. We watched as he grabbed a small bag of pillows and ran up the stairs to the third floor.
Chad's lack of assistance seemed to give Corb newfound energy. Instantly, Corb lifted his end of the futon, and we reached the second floor walkway, in seconds flat. Corb placed the futon down on the ground, brushed himself off, and announced, "That’s it. I’m done. Chad can do the rest!"
I grinned. "Let's go."
The two of us were helping Annie start the latest chapter in her life: moving out into her own apartment. She had moved out from Josie's house a few years ago, and lived, briefly with a roommate for a short while, but that had not worked out, and she had decided to moved in with Josie's parents, in the basement apartment that Josie had lived in when I first started dating her. That stay was, I think, comforting, but also full of challenges, especially after Chad moved in with her.
So, after settling in at her new job, Annie set her sight on a new goal: moving out on her own, with Chad, into their own apartment. In some ways, I consider it their first apartment together, since Chad had never truly been an "official" resident of the grandparent apartment. Josie's parents refused to let him shower there, and so he would travel, each morning, to his father's apartment, to shower there.
Corb and I left the futon where it was, and headed up the stairs.
Josie was sitting upstairs, sitting at a rickety kitchen table with Annie. I allowed myself another look around the room. For a first aprtment, it was spatious, and had a lot of potential: ample closet space, a nice bathtub, and an open deck that is going to be simply terrific this summer, for it overlooks a field where the town of North Eldredge holds an annual Fireworks display.
But then...on the other hand...
There's the decor.
Annie old me that the apartment was advertised as "fully furnished." But of course, reading a rent ad is sort of like scouring through a singles site: sometimes the truth is bent, a wee bit. In this case, it meant furniture that was new when David Cassidy was topping the charts.
Seventies, and in some case sixties, furniture was what the landlord had provided, probably discards from their personal collection that had been upgraded long ago. The refrigerator was rusting on the front, the carpeting appeared to be shagoriffic, the kitchen table reminded me of a piece my grandmother had when I was five years old.
And yet, for some reason...call me a cock-eyed optimist...I had the feeling that Annie was going to be very happy here.
"You remember moving into our first apartment, Josie?" I asked, smiling.
"Of course. We had a third floor, too," she said, sipping from her Dunkies coffee.
"And we never had hot water, after two minutes, because the pipes didn't work well," I said.
"And then we moved into anothewr third floor apartment. It was a good thing we had Diamond Dawg living with us," she grinned.
"Yes! Uncle Diamond," said Annie, in a childish voice.
"Diamond Dawg was a director that was very involved in Eldredge Community Theater, while I was president," I said to Corb. "He was quite a character. He lived with us for a few months while he was directing 'Pippin.'"
"We used to make terrific Mexican meals together," said Josie. "Remember that, Annie?"
"And you used to fight over the decor of the apartment," I added, turning to Corb. "Diamond Dawg used to rearrange the furniture on Josie while she went to work. She'd come home and move it back to where it was. They kept that up for WEEKS. The worst was a slime green turtle cookie jar that Josie had that Diamond said scared him. Every week, he'd hide it on her, in a closet, or a kitchen drawer, and it would take her days to find it."
"No, the worst was the day I went shopping for food, and I called Diamond around noon. He yelled at me for buying waxed beans! I called Ted up on the phone, sobbing like a fool. Ted said he'd talked to Diamond, but he wimped out, and never did."
"Those were good times," I said, grinning. "I wonder where old Diamond is now? So, sweetie, how do you feel?"
Annie shrugged. "Tired, mostly. And, I have to go to work in a few hours."
Suddenly, my cell phone rang. I moved to the kitchen table to pick it up. Annie rose, and headed downstairs, where Chad was sitting on the futon. I smiled to myself, watching her leave. So big. Seems like yesterday we were just moving her into our first place, all of five years old, and the spitting image of Punky Brewster.
It was the kids, Ashes and Theo. "Yessssss?" I asked. "Yes, we're at Annie's...you want to come over?...You do? No problem, sweetie, we're all set...yes, I'll be right over." I hung up the phone, and grabbed the keys, which were near Josie's cup of coffee. "Gotta go, Miss Thing. Be right back. Will you be here?"
Suddenly, I hear bickering, from downstairs on the second floor. I head down, and see Annie and Chad, holding the futon, and futilely trying to drag it up the very windy set of stairs that lead to the third floor.
"What's going on?" I ask.
Annie looks as though she's about to cry. "We have to get this up the stairs. I don't want the neighbors mad at us."
"We can keep it there for a while!" protests Chad.
"But I have to leave for three!" says Annie. "I won't get home until eleven and we can do it at night!"
"Hold on," I said. "This isn't going to get up there like that, anyway. I'd suggest bringing it back down..."
"But," protested Annie.
"Listen! You said that you put it together in your old apartment when it first came, right? So while your gone, Chad can take it apart, and bring it upstairs. Do you have tools, Chad?"
When I return with kids, I am greeted by the delightful sight of Chad, busily taking futon apart, grunting and groaning. I try to stifle a grin as I pass by.
The next day, I drag myself out of bed at ten and shuffle to the computer. And there, oddly enough, is an email from the Maestro, with news that he has just discovered the whereabouts of Diamond Dawg, alive and well and living in New Orleans. Funny how life goes, isn't it?
I write to another rediscovered friend, Psychic Sue, about the news, and she attributes it to the fact that Mercury is retrograde. I just think that the gods are smiling down upon me, right now.