It was early afternoon before Mac's stomach grumbled, reminding him to stop and eat. He finished hammering the loose board, satisfied that it was level and secure. Wiping sweat from his forehead, he sat back on his heels and admired his work. He had stubbed his toe for the last time, at least on this baby. The barn was older than Mac by several years, and he loved spending time out here. Since he was a little boy, he had come here for peace and quiet. He knew every inch of the barn, and at one point had maintained or inspected every board and nail. A storm last year had damaged the roof, but he wasn't going to tackle that until spring. The roof had plenty of time left, and the weather would make it a pain in the ass right now.
The phone began to ring right as he was taking his boots off. Caught between the need to answer the phone and fear of his wife's reaction if he got dirt on her kitchen floor, he hop-limped across the floor and grabbed the phone.
"I thought you might be done by now, " Debbie said. He caught her up on the list of chores he had completed, and realized from the silence her mind had wandered. He took off his other boot and began washing up. He was tempted to ask Deb what she was calling for, but he knew better. She got around to things in her own good time, and there was no rushing her.
"So, I stopped by Lisa's and I thought we might hang out for a while," she said. Aha, now he knew where this was going. Lisa was her sister, who managed to go through a husband about every eighteen months, with a six-month courting period between. She was at the inevitable divorce stage of the cycle, which meant her dutiful sister was going to sit and listen to her rant while the kids played together. Despite her lousy ability to choose husbands, Lisa was a great mom and the cousins all got along. Her son Greg was the same age as Adam, and the Playstation would keep them amused for hours. He was actually grateful it worked out this way, he was spared the awkward time trying not to listen while pretending to be concerned.
It was agreed that Deb would probably stay for dinner, and he would be on his own. He put on a good show, which his wife completely saw through. She knew he was looking forward to some wings and beer, and glad to have escaped Lisa's diagnosis of what was wrong with the fifth (or was it sixth?) man she swore to love until death separated them. Was he cheating? Did he tell her some terrible secret from his past? He'd find out soon enough, and would get his suit cleaned and ready for the next wedding. If she was on schedule, it would be next April or so.
After reassurances that they were on the same page, they got off the phone. He had moved on to making a ham sandwich by then, and with a quick pang he realized he forgot to tell her he loved her. He grinned and thought about how he could make up for that tonight. As he worked his way through lunch, he began to make a to-do list of things he could get done before dinner at the the Blue Goose. If he got right to it, he might even have time to chill out for a while. By the time he put his boots back on, he had forgotten all about Lisa and her problems. He was looking forward to a cold beer and some of the Goose's signature spicy sauce. Life was good.