While Sarge was carefully searching through the salvaged panes of window glass for the size closest to those needed for replacing some broken windows in a house up the street, Anton was busy collecting items for caulking the windows while keeping an eye out for the glass cutting tool he’d seen earlier in a box of donated tools. “Got it. Sarge. I knew this sweet thing was here somewhere.” He walked the glass cutter over to the makeshift work-table of a piece of plywood resting on two wooden horses and set it down next to the metal straight edge yard-measure then resumed his search for another can of caulking.
Sarge took note of Anton’s find and kept searching through the glass until he found two panes which would only require cutting only one end to serve his purpose. Taking them to the plywood table, he set one up at a time and went to work measuring and cutting each pane.
Having fulfilled his own search mission with two extra cans of caulk, Anton stood watching the other man, ready to lend a hand if need be. “Oh yeah, that sharp toy is a joy, is it not, Big Man?”
Keeping his eyes on the task at hand, Sarge nodded. “It certainly is, Anton. Cuts like it’s about brand new. It’s real sweet.” Finished with one pane, Sarge took up the other one. “Anton, you mind if I ask you a personal question?”
Anton shrugged. “Ask what you want, Big Man. Making no promises to satisfy curiosity. But no problem with you asking, whatever the question be.”
Sarge neatly cut the second pane of glass and compared it to the first. Satisfied with the pair, he nodded his readiness for them to leave the basement and return to the house they were working on. “Just wondering what exactly is your relationship with Esther. You two seem pretty tight from what I’ve seen. But I’m not quite sure what type of tight it is. I’m just trying to read things right, nothing else. Curious how you two hooked up.”
Anton handed Sarge his gloves and then zipped up his parka as he replied with no small degree of pride in his voice. “Esther and me, we married. Goin’ on five years come June. Saw her lookin’ like Nefertiti waiting at a bus stop. You know who I mean?”
“Yes, I do, Anton. I noticed that resemblance straight away. Makes me wonder just where Esther’s people originally come from.” Sarge smiled while recalling his own startled reaction upon seeing Esther for the first time when she’d opened the bright yellow door the morning he’d come in search of Anton.
Anton adjusted his hold on the box as they made their way up the stairs. “Well, I first saw Esther one day after I already had put another life behind me. Just her look put a hook in me. I figure I got to get next to that woman or die trying. She put me through some serious hoop jumping just to get the time of day out of her. I mean literally. I didn’t know what I was doin’ wrong cuz I never had no woman turn me down as many times as she did. She damn near gave me an identity crisis.”
The two men laughed at the notion of any insecurity regarding Anton’s self confidence and self-esteem. Closing the basement door behind him, Sarge looked at Anton in surprise. “No way!”
“Oh, hell yeah, way. Big time.” Anton nodded while they walked side by side towards the front door. “Then one day I’m sitting at the bus stop waiting for my route to come along. Putting the wait time to enjoyable use; just reading my book. Next thing I know, she sit down right next to me. I’m thinking I got to pull a sweet move quick or she be gone fast as usual. My mind is working overtime heat in a split second. She puts the brakes on my game plan with, ‘What you readin’ there, Anton? That don’t look like no comic book to me.’ I’m about to die on the spot cuz before that all she ever say to me is one word, and that be NO! I’m so shook up I have to look at the book cover to remember what book I’m half way through readin’. I manage to say, ‘This here be Man’s Search for Meaning by Viktor Frankl.’ Somehow that broke something loose for both of us and we got to talking serious. We been together ever since. Hooking up with Esther helped keep me motivated to keep that other life far behind me. Now it’s just a ghost I don’t even care to see.”
“Okay, that certainly explains a few things as to why you both seem to be in sync and on the same wavelength most of the time. Five years together, that’s sweet, Anton. Indeed it is.” Sarge reached out, opened and held the door for both of them to pass through.
Anton stole a quick speculative look at Sarge as they stepped onto the porch. The two men paused for a few moments before venturing back to the house where Ricardo and several other men were currently working on other repairs. “Now we trade questions. Fair enough? Same thing, asking is cherry. No pressure to reply.”
“Fair trade. Yeah, I’m game. Go for it. Ask.” Sarge cradled the window panes in their makeshift cardboard sleeve in his arms while awaiting Anton’s query.
Keeping his tone light, Anton turned towards where the street was buried under a good six feet of packed snow upon which more was now lightly descending. “You ever tight with some woman? Hitched up one way or another? Just curious cause you didn’t drop any dimes earlier when the rest of us were reading some past and present woman creeds.”
Sarge laughed out loud and shook his head. “Most definitely not. I do not have such a way with the ladies. Oh no. Not for lack of trying. Just, I don’t know, I just have no luck in that direction.”
Anton frowned as he considered this intel. “Fair enough. Had me wondering is all. Thought maybe you been burned crisp or such and just didn’t care to discuss the matter.”
Sarge thought about the ways in which he definitely felt ‘burned crisp’, but as they had nothing to do with Anton’s question he refrained from sharing. “Yeah, well, you got to get close to someone to get burned, don’t you, Anton? Me, I’ve got some serious mad skills when it comes to turning the ladies off long before ever getting to the sort of close that burns you ever even gets an f’n wick lite. I’m an f’n natural at saying the wrong things at the right times for being shown the exit permanently. You follow?”
“I read.” Anton considered this information as Sarge stepped off the porch and onto the boards for the walkway. Following with the box of caulk and small hand tools held against his chest, he watched the coatless taller man walking lightly over the boards ahead of him. Between his murmuring bones, his observations of Sarge’s interactions with various women in the Flats and what Esther had shared about the few short conversations she’d had with the man carrying the window panes, Anton was having a rough time reconciling what Sarge had said with his own first hand intel. He began an internal discussion with his bones in earnest as to why Sarge thought he had a way with saying the wrong things to women when Anton’s ears had already heard enough just today alone to convince him the exact opposite was true. Even Esther, Rosa and JJ who had been on the lookout from the start for red warning lights regarding Sarge on Lily’s behalf, had shared intel that matched his own. What kind of women had the man been hooking up with that he claimed such a knack for keeping them at a cold heart distance?
Breakfast Special #21 https://47whitebuffalo.wordpress.com/2013/08/15/breakfast-special-21-taste-buds/