Barking Kitten

Fiction, musings on literature, food writing, and the occasional Friday cat blog. For lovers of serious literature, cooking, and eating.


Close to forty. Not cool. Politically left. Atheist. Happily married. No kids.

Saturday, September 30, 2006

A Discerning Eye (Continued)

This is how we end up driving south on the 101, our travel duffels nestled together like an old married couple's. My mixed feelings have become such a constant state that the serenity of my previous solitary existence is beginning to take on the sheen of a past idyll.

We take turns behind the wheel. Daniel has brought a sketchpad: perched in the passenger seat, he draws like a happy child. I've brought no pads, no paints or colors of any kind; it seems like bad luck. I never work away from home anyway.

With two people driving we are soon crossing the Golden Gate Bridge, its spires lost in cottony grey tangle of clouds. Despite the windy cold a few brave tourists stroll along the walkways, aiming video cameras here and there.

The house is large and rickety, surrounded by apartment buildings. The girlfriend, Ella, is small and thin, with dark hair pulled carelessly into a ponytail. Bill is squat, thickly muscled. They hug Daniel enthusiastically, then shake my hand politely, sizing me up.

We all troop inside the entryway. Bill tells us the house is over a hundred years old. "I spent the summer working on the foundation." He says.

A dim, narrow hallway runs the length of the house, lined with doors. It appears much smaller inside than out. Ella and Bill lead us from room to room, happily describing plans for moldings and wallpaper, flooring and furniture. There are Christmas decorations spread tastefully about, wreaths, red candles nestled in evergreen boughs, an imposing tree in the dining room, heavy with baubles, nearly reaching the ceiling.

Bill inhales deeply. "Smells fantastic, eh? Hell to lug in here, but worth the effort."

It does smell nice. I glance over at Daniel, who is smiling politely. Does he remember the fragrance of pine?


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