Monday, April 11, 2011

Ch 57: Ed, the handyman

Victor made it to the daycare center in five minutes flat. Had he dawdled even a minute he would have been stuck behind a half dozen school buses. Luck was on his side. Or so he thought.

He parked and smiled as a dozen kids waved to him before they were ushered into their respective SUVs by their harried looking moms. He exited his car and almost had made it to the door when Sherry saw him and broke away from her mother to hug him about the knees.

“Sherry! What are you doing?” her mother shouted.

“Dis is Victor, Mommy,” she said smiling up at him. “Hi!”

“Hello, Sherry,” he said, picking her up and kissing her cheek. He smiled at the very pretty woman staring up at him.  He suspected Sherry would grow up to look just like her mother and break a dozen hearts along the way. “Hello, Mrs. Damask. It’s nice to finally meet you.”

She gazed up at him mesmerized. “You're Victor? The Victor of the giant guardian Teddy bear?”

He chuckled. “One and the same.”

“Oh, Sherry loves you!” she said and much to Victor’s amazement she hugged him too. “She’s so changed now. She’s happy and open and she doesn’t have nearly as many nightmares anymore. It’s all due to you. I don’t know how to thank you.”

“I think you just did,” he said. Then turning to Sherry he added, “I’m glad Mr. Teddy bear is taking good care of you, Honey.”

“No, his name is Victor Teddy bear,” Sherry said with an infectious giggle.

“Oh, really?” Victor said in surprise. 

“She insisted and I can see why. You’re her hero and mine too,” Sherry’s mother said, her face glowing.

“It was nothing much,” he said, uneasiness creeping up on him. He suspected where this was going. He could see romantic stars forming in her eyes as they stood there, but he couldn’t see a good way out. “Well, it was very nice meeting you, Mrs. Damask, but I…”

“No! I’m just Rhonda Wilson now…not married, not anymore. Not after…” She glanced at Sherry then back at him. “Um…Victor, I would love to have you come to dinner at our house. Sherry would so like it.”

And there it was, his suspicion confirmed. His mind worked frantically for an excuse not to when he was saved.

“And Miss Violet, too, Mommy. Victor is Miss Violet’s boyfriend,” Sherry said happily.

Victor beamed at her. “Sherry darling, that’s supposed to be a secret,” he said, putting his finger to his lips. With a slight pang, he watched  Rhonda’s face fall, but it was necessary. “Thank you, Rhonda, but I’ll have to check first. Now, if you’ll excuse me, I have to see Violet.” He kissed Sherry then placed her on the ground.

“She’s not here,” Sherry said.

“What?” he said, frowning.

“Miss Violet’s not here. She went home,” Sherry explained.

“Are you sure, Sherry?”

“Uh-huh, she toll me she was going home,” Sherry insisted.

“Was she sick?” he asked.

“I dunno, maybe,” she replied.

Without another word, he turned back to his car and left. He didn’t even buckle up.

“Oh, stop it!” Violet said, laughing. “Same old Eddie Spaghetti. You could always make me laugh.”

Ed peeked out from under the sink and grinned. “It’s nice to see you smile again. There, that should do it. Test it for me.”

She turned the water on. “Perfect!” he shouted. She turned it off again.

“The faucet’s not leaking, too. You fixed it! Oh, Eddie, I can’t thank you enough. It’s been driving me batty for months,” Violet said.

“You should’ve called. You know I’d drop anything for you…except a sandwich…never drop a sandwich, not for nobody!” he said crawling out from under the sink.

She burst out laughing. “Silly Eddie. Are you hungry? I can make a sandwich real quick,” she said, watching him wipe down a wrench before putting it back in his well-worn toolbox.

“Don’t distract me with food, Woman! I’m working now. Freddy said something about the back door. What’s it doin’?” he asked going to it and opening it.

“Well, for no reason at all, it blew open the other day. It was really windy,” she said.

“Well, there’s your reason. It was windy. You probably didn’t lock it. You never do,” he said shaking his head as he examined the lock and doorknob. “Want me put a deadbolt on it? Could help you remember to lock it.”

“You think I need one?” she asked anxiously.

He shrugged. “Need one? Not if you lock the door, but since you don’t, it can’t hurt. Ever since nine-eleven a bad element’s come to Catalpa Valley,” he said ominously.

Violet stared at him, her eyes wide in fear. Hadn’t Victor told her the same thing? “What do you mean?” she asked cautiously.

“Tons of people are flocking to the country, scared to death of another building falling out of the sky on top of them. So, what do they do? They come here, build their mini-mansions and start shooting their mouths off,” he said. He then put on a high pitched nasal voice and added, “Oh my gawd, why don’t they pave the woods?”

Violet burst out laughing. “You made that up!”

“Boy scout’s honor!” he said holding three fingers up. “Last summer, I was hiking  with MT and the kids up to the waterfall on Graylers Creek when we heard two bitchy women yakking. They were wearing high heels, too. Can you imagine? I wanted to strangle them with the stupid silk scarves they had wrapped around their necks, but I figured they’d get hung without my help. They kept getting stuck in the prickle bushes.”

“Eddie, you’ll never change,” she said as she laughed and laughed.

He smiled watching her, but he sobered after a bit. He was here on a dual mission. “You’re all alone now, Violet. You gotta think of protecting yourself or getting someone to do it for you. You don’t have Richie here anymore.” 

He saw the sadness creep back into her eyes. He wanted to kick himself for doing it, but it was part of the plan. “I’m sorry, Vi. It’s just… I hate to see you like this. I worry about you being all alone. It’s almost a year now since Richie died and…”

“Just three quarters,” she retorted defensively. 

“Yeah…that’s what almost means,” he said fiddling with the lock. “This is kinda loose and I’ll bet as old as the house. I'll tighten it for now, but I'll come back and change it for ya. Just to be safe. Anyway, it’s almost a year and you shouldn’t be alone. MT and…”

“Eddie, I’ve been meaning to ask you forever. Why do you call Mary Empty? What kind of silly nickname is that? She mustn’t like it, surely,” Violet asked. 

He doubled over laughing.

“What’s so funny?” she asked, bewildered.

“You thought I’ve been calling her Empty all this time?” Ed said, still howling. “M period T period... that’s what I call her…it’s her initials for Mary Teresa. Man, I’d forgotten how funny you are! MT will laugh for a week when I tell her that one.”

Violet giggled even if she did feel stupid.

“Anyway, my Empty-cup and me…we were hoping you’d come over for dinner. Conny will be four years old next month and we'd love you to meet…”

Violet's laughter died instantly. “Not you too. Eddie, don’t say it! Don’t you dare start with the set ups. I’m not dating. It’s not even been a year since Richard died. Not that it matters. I’m never dating. It’s till death do us part, you know and I’m not dead,” she said adamantly.

“That…that’s not what I was gonna say,” he lied.

“Yeah, sure,” she muttered, rolling her eyes. “You were always a horrible liar, Eddie.”

“Violet, I know you. You need to be needed. You need a family. You have too much to offer to just stay closed up from the world. How about Harry Colt? He’s nice, he’s recently widowed and his two adorable kids need a mother like you,” Ed pleaded.

Violet stood in stunned silence.  “Harry Colt? You are not seriously thinking…did he put you up to this?” she snapped.

“No! Of course not! We were just talking at the Lions club fund raiser and he was saying how much his kids adore you and how nice you are and…”

A not so subtle clearing of the throat made Eddie snap to attention. He instantly stepped in front of Violet looking both protective and ready to start a fight. “Who the hell are you?” he snarled.

Victor raised an insolent eyebrow instantly disliking this crude fellow. “I could ask the same of you, but I can guess. I’m assuming you are Ed the handyman as your work truck advertises.”

“Eddie, what in the world are you doing?” Violet said pushing him out of her way. “This is Victor Romanoff. He’s the new lawyer in town."

"You suing somebody?" Ed asked frowning at Victor.

"Of course not!" she said rolling her eyes. "Victor's my friend. Why are you here, Victor? Is something wrong?”

“Well, I hope not. I went to Mio Caro and was told you went home sick,” he said, giving Ed the evil eye before turning a much softer expression to her. “I wanted to make sure you’re okay.”

“Who said I was sick?” she asked, baffled. 

Victor laughed at himself. “Guess I should have asked someone other than Sherry, huh?”

She giggled. “Yes, four year olds tend to get things wrong occasionally,” she said. “Sweet of you to come, but I’m fine. I just took the afternoon off to show Eddie what needs fixing.”

“I see,” he said, watching as Ed attended to the lock. Ed glared at him and he glared right back.  It was apparent the dislike was mutual. 

“Well, what did you want me for?” she asked, completely missing the hostility in the air.

“Nothing much. Wondering if you’d do me a big favor and go with me to this boring thing at Weston Botanical. A fund raiser they do every year and well…you’d enjoy it better than I would. They’re doing an orchid show this month. Do you like orchids by chance?” he asked needlessly. Her face lit up like a beacon in the night upon hearing the word Weston.

“Orchids! Oh, my, yes!” she said, eagerly. 

He smiled. “Great. I’ll pick you up at seven if that's okay. We can have dinner first,” he said. He then turned to Ed and gave a curt nod. “Nice meeting you, Ed.”

“Yeah, sure,” Ed replied gruffly, not even glancing at him.

Victor stepped outside and breathed easy. No matter what that stupid Ed had in store for Violet, she would be with him tonight having the time of her life, as usual, as should be. No grumpy handyman would ever take her away from him, not while he still breathed. At least not without a fight.

©2016 Glory Lennon All Rights Reserved 

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