Sheers Photo copyright KK
Nephew Hugh has been in town, on spring break from his Political Science School back in Eastern Canada. He came for some sunshine and spiritual renewal. Kay actually thought he might have been feeling a bit adrift, homesick, although, with this dysfunctional family, she wondered why a soul might be longing for more dysfunction.
Kay drove into town on Sunday; met friend Suzi at the Art Gallery to see the landscape show and have lunch in the Gallery Cafe; drove to her friend Dorothy’s place for dinner and an overnight stay. All of this was a prelude to picking up Hugh early on Monday morning to bring him back to her home in Richmeadows.
On Monday, their plans were to meet at seven thirty at Beans and Company, have breakfast togther, all three of them, and then Dorothy would go on her way to her horrifically early dental appointment. Hugh and Kay would begin their two days of visit. Dorothy was the only habitual early riser amongst the three and she didn’t understand late-rising humans.
Kay and Dorothy were to leave the house at seven fifteen so Dorothy was up at six preparing herself for her appointment and then her work but she called Kay at seven leaving her only minutes to wash, dress, make up the bed she had so kindly lent Kay for the night and to pack her few belongings. Kay scrambled.
By the time she put her shoes on and got out to the car she was miraculously clothed but was not awake. Kay ran her hand over the back of her head. She was not sure that she had combed her hair nor brushed her teeth. Haste is not something a late-riser does well.
It was good that Dorothy was driving, though Kay began to suspect her apparent alertness. Dorothy had passed the rendez-vous spot and had been obliged to back track. She claimed there was no parking space on the south side of the street but Kay couldn’t be sure. Kay was still ridding her eyes of sleepy-dust.
Eventually Dorothy found a spot on the north side of the street smack dab in front of Beans and Company. Though they were five minutes late, Hugh was not there. Kay searched from front to back and couldn’t find him; then continued to turn in circles and pace the length of the shop, occasionally popping her head out the front door to scan the street, looking for his face. She still was not really awake.
Dorothy made soothing noises to calm Kay to no avail, then cried, “There he is!” and there he was, indeed. A tall giant of a man, a lumbering man, youth still predominant on his face, both confident and shy. In no time, Kay and Hugh were hugging right there in the middle of the cafe. Despite all their family ups and downs, Hugh and Kay were the best of friends.
Over two-egged breakfasts, hash browns and toast, an hour went by in the space of ten minutes, it seemed. Dorothy had to leave. Hugh and Kay packed up and left too then walked back to Kay’s car just a few blocks away.
Their first stop was Kitsilano Beach. Joggers were jogging. Dog owners were running their canine friends. Others were simply out for a stroll. The sky was cloudless. The sun drenched the beach in a warmish spring light. The enormous willow trees were running brilliant yellow sap in the weeping branches but there were neither buds nor leaves just yet. The ancient cherry trees were burgeoning but not flowering.
Kitsilano Beach is a manicured beach. The logs are distributed every year in logical progression for sunbathers to lean against. The sand is raked and cleaned. Drift wood is piled up and burnt. One could not possibly find a free-booting crab or a clam shell here like is possible at Jericho Beach and Spanish Banks, even though these latter two beaches are also managed by the City Parks.
They walked the asphalt path around to Vanier Park and returned, talking all the while. When they got back to their starting point, they sat on a park bench and watched the world go by. When their two hours of parking meter were up, they reluctantly headed back to the car and left, destination Richmeadows.
Talking all the while of family and friends, they ate up the highway, the hour long trip zipped by, again in a fast ten minutes. They stopped at Best Buy and picked up microphone and head set for Skype that he would set up for her. The only thing that registered the time they had spent was their requirement for another cup of brew which they sipped like tourists at a sidewalk cafe, Hidabucks.
The whole day went like that. Conversation, more conversation, and the time sliding by like lightning. When finally they got back home mid-afternoon, Kay chopped celery and onion and sliced cheddar cheese for a tuna melt and he made up the mix, salted, seasoned and toasted them. Hugh brushed off the East Lake lawn chairs and they sat in the sun to eat their lunch in the back yard. It was beautiful and the temperature had risen to twenty degrees! It felt like summer.
He’d had a late night; Kay had had an early morning uprising. A nap was in order. Hugh had the living room couch with two afghans for warmth and Kay crawled under the duvet upstairs, glad for forty winks.
At seven, she locked the front door, Hugh still sleeping on the couch, and left for a short meeting of the Art Studio Tour group. She was back by eight.
Hugh was in the kitchen preparing dinner. He’d trained as a cook in an upscale restaurant during his undergrad years. One could always depend on Hugh to cook a fine meal wherever he was.
They ate perfect steaks with perfectly fried, whole button mushrooms cooked in the steak brownings and dashed with a bit of fine wine. They had garlic and parsley butter to liven the steamed bok choy. Every mouthful was a treat. It couldn’t have been better at a five star restaurant.
And then they resumed the conversation, comfortably sharing stories that can’t be shared in just the same way by telephone. Mrs. Stepford came to visit for a little while and regaled them with her first bodice-ripping story and explained the synopsis of her new murder mystery that was ready for editing.
When she left, Hugh and Kay talked till twelve, when she finally begged off, announcing it was time to retire; but it was one o’clock before they climbed the stairs and turned in.
Kay was up at eight the next morning, ruminating that Hugh had been burning the candle at both ends, with his studies and his socializing. Kay followed her normal routine – checking and answering e-mail, sipping on a hot cup of coffee and playing a few games of Freecell. And she waited. She would have company for breakfast, this morning.
About ten-thirty, Hugh descended, fully rested.
Now, Hugh was travelling very lightly. In his back pack, he had only a change of clothes for his dinner date with Ron and his parents. Ron’s the next person in Vancouver who is to be graced with Hugh’s visit. So Hugh descended the staircase, sans housecoat, clad only in his undies, knowing Kay would be typing away on the computer, absorbed, and would not be paying attention. He was on his way to take his shower on the main floor bathroom, his clothes for the day clutched in his left hand.
As he passed the front door, he saw a very tall man peering through the sheer-curtained glass side window. Hugh hesitated an instant just in front of the door, curiosity over-coming his strong sense of modesty, and then he continued on. Before saying even “good morning” he said loudly for me to hear, “There’s a gentleman at the door”. As if in confirmation, there was a rapid knocking at the door.
Hugh was caught between a desire to protect Kay from an unknown male soliciting at the door and a desire to protect Kay from the sight of his masses of flesh. He hastened behind the bathroom door to shower and get dressed.
As Kay arose from her computer desk, she saw his tall naked figure flash by – the thin black covering of his undershorts between waist and hip caught her eye.
At the front door, there stood the former owner of the house, coming to pick up some mail that had been misdirected by a company that refused to actually acknowledge his change of address.
Jim, the former owner, is renowned for his curiosity about other people’s lives. He is apt to recount all his speculations to whomever will listen. Not two weeks earlier, having heard about the vacant house next door, he had stopped by Kay’s house and promised to loan his Great Dane to Kay should anybody bother her.
“I keep an eye on this place still, ” he boasted. “I watch what you are doing with the garden and the renovations on the house. I pass by every night while I’m walking Tiny” he continued as he gestured towards his giant dog who was panting and salivating right beside him.
Kay had felt as if she were being stalked; she wondered if she should be more worried about Jim than any potential stalker. She thanked him warmly for his offer and promised to take him up on it, knowing full well that she never would. Besides, she thought, what amount of ruin would a Great Dane wreak on her antique china collection if ever he were permitted into the house?
“I’d invite you in for coffee,” she hesitated, “but we’re just getting up”
“Oh, that’s okay, ” he replied off-handedly, a touch of grin at the corner of his mouth, “I’ve got a lot of things to do.”
Kay reached out to the mailbox that was affixed to the porch pillar and fished out Jim’s mail and handed it to him.
It was hours later when Hugh had gone and Kay was recounting her two days of gossip to Mrs. Stepford that the light bulb went on. Kay and Mrs. Stepford burst into a fit of laughter. Jim would be analyzing every centimeter of bare flesh he had devined behind the lacy curtain.
When her laughter was finally under control, Mrs. Stepford shouted,”COUGAR!” He’s going to think you’ve found a young lover!”
“I never explained anything, ” grinned Kay. “He has nothing to go on, and he’s going to construct a whole story. He’s going to walk by the place night after night with that Great Dane and wonder if I’m living with someone now.”
“He’s going to be looking for muscly improvements to the place – major diggings in the garden; trees being shaped and pared; hedges being trimmed. A constant newcomer mowing the lawn. The car being washed by a virile young thing, torse -nu, dressed only in shorts, woolen socks and and hiking boots.”
“What will the neighbours think!” shouted out Mrs. Stepford in glee.
“I’m over sixty, for Pete’s sake! Think what they will!” rejoined Kay followed by another fit of laughter.