I count out the cash on the counter as John the owner of this tiny hardware store taps his fingers along the surface. “That looks about right.” I say staring at the divided piles of cash. “That it does.” John says. He scoops the money up and puts it inside of an envelope. “I’ll give Aladdin a call and get the order placed. It generally takes a two months for your kit home to get here.” I shake his hand and he walks into the back of the store with nearly all the money I had. Cynthia joins me at the counter. “So that’s it, the house is ordered?” I nod and turn towards the door. “This is so exciting!” She nearly squeals as she says it. I wanted to be excited too, but we were still in need of work and close to flat broke. We get into our car and drive back to the Weatherby’s.
Olive and Cynthia prepare lunch, regardless of my attempts to help, they state over and over that they do not need any. So I resign myself to the living room looking through the local classifieds for a job. I circle some items that I would be qualified to do, though they were quite awhile away. “It’s ready!” Cynthia shouts from the dining room. I fold the paper and join them. As I sit down both of them seem to have the brightest smiles on their faces. “Go ahead dear, tell him before you burst.” Olive says. As if a whirlwind Cynthia explodes with excitement. “Olive called a friend of a friend and got me a job doing phone things, phone board switching or something! Isn’t that great?” I close my mouth and put down my sandwich. About to speak she starts again “I have the interview tomorrow, but I pretty much got it. I also need the car tomorrow as it’s back in town!” Finally, out a breathe I’m able to get a word in. “That’s fantastic honey, I’ll run and put gas in the car so you can get there.” We eat our lunch as Cynthia dances in her seat.
I head outside and drive the car over to the nearest gas station, the gas being far cheaper than I’m used to I’m able to scrape together the change in the ashtray to fill it up. It’s been a long time since I’ve been this broke. I feel nervous about the future as I drive back to the house. Jasper is sitting outside arguing with German, though he was Russian. I step out of the car and walk over to them. “Not simple, it not like that.” German says in a stern voice. “No, it, it is simple. You get them to pull fie-field seven now!” Jasper shouts back but German stands his ground. “Can’t be done. Not enough crew.” Jasper’s face becomes hot and sweat drips from his brow. “Then get more!” Jasper shouts, German walks away with his head down. Jasper is frustrated until he notices me awkwardly standing a few yards away, his mood changes slightly. “Hell-Hello, Karl.” He says as he removes his hat. “Hello, sir, something wrong?” I ask. He wipes the sweat away and sticks his hat back on his head. “Nothing I can’t handle. Heard your mis… Misses got-ot her a job.” I pull a cigarette out and light it. “Yeah, she’s going in tomorrow.” I say. I put the pack back in my pocket, sad that this was my last one. “Well these guys, guys aren’t going to work without, me there! I’ll see ya at sup-up-upper.” He walks to his truck and drives off. I sit on the steps smoking when Cynthia comes out and sits next to me. She takes the cigarette from me. “What time do you have to leave in the morning?” I ask her as I rub her knee, I kind of missed it when she wore shorter dresses. “Olive said it’s about an hours’ drive, so I’ll probably leave around seven.” She hands the cigarette back to me. “I’ve been thinking Karl, I mean when we get this house up and everything, maybe, I mean if you want and all, we can think about starting us a little family. This birth control won’t last forever.” I want to shout at her, but I can’t. Instead, I mumble my anger in an almost guttural tone. “We can’t do that, it won’t work. We can’t dammit.” Cynthia stands up and shouts at me. “We can’t, or you just don’t want to! This is our new life! You have to let the past go already…” She walks inside and leaves me to wonder what exactly is wrong with me. Night comes, she did not find her way into my bed, as I didn’t find my way into hers.
I help Jasper load his truck, it turns out I had one skill that was useful in being an onion farmer, and that was speaking Russian. Which was kind of unexpected, the new migrant workers that were hired spoke about as much English as a house fly. Although German was fluent, it was difficult for him to be in two places at once. So I started to help out, then soon I was working and being paid. I join Jasper in the truck and roll down the window as he starts it. He turns to me. “You know, you know Olive says I’m a-a crazy for this. Are you a spy?” I laugh at his question, then become nervous, as if guilty. “No, I’m not a spy. And if I was why would I be an onion farmer?” Jasper laughs as well and starts to drive back to the house. “It-it’s just specious. You appear out of nowhere and such.” The shovels clatter around in the back as I try to make up an excuse why we appeared. “Don’t matter I guess since you’re going to stay- stay here now.” Jasper says in a matter of fact kind of tone. “Yeah, I’ll be staying here. I have to skip lunch, however, the freight for the house is arriving, probably now, and I need to meet the driver at the end of the road.” I say. We pull up to his house. “I’ll meet you later- in the shed!” Jasper shouts to me as I run off down the road. Winded I make it in time for the driver to see me. I wave him down and he turns down the road. As he tries to flip the truck around to back into the lot he goes off the road and crushes some garlic, which I will have to pay for. I sign the paper and everything to build a home sits in four different piles. I walk back to Olive and Jasper’s house so I could use their phone to get the foundation ordered.
Another week and the cement is cured enough to begin construction. With the extra bit of money I saved I’m able to hire a couple of guys that work at the farm to help build it. We start on Saturday. Piece by piece, nail by nail we have the frame built. At a water break, we all sit around smoking and talking. Cynthia asks me to translate everything the workers say, though I try to keep the jokes a lot cleaner than they were. “What did he say then?” she asks, using the bandanna to wipe the sweat on her collarbone. “Uh… He said he could use a woman like you that could swing a hammer.” I lie. “Well, tell him thank you.” She says and smiles at Iosif. I nod then ‘translate’ for her. “If you say something like that again, not only will you be out of work today, but out of a job.” I try to make my town pleasant, but that’s sometimes hard in Russian. Iosif nods his head then walks over to get some more water from the truck. “Oh he’s shy, that’s cute.” Cynthia says unaware of the true exchange.
Rome could have been built in two days if they hired Russians. The house is complete, every window in place, ever screw tight. Jasper comes by in his pick-up to give the workers a ride back. “You two, two coming back for the-the night?” He asks looking over German in the passenger seat. “No, we’ll be staying here.” Cynthia says. Jasper puts the truck into gear then waves goodbye. The night is bright with a full moon as Cynthia and I lay the blankets on the cool wooden floor of our new home. Laying together we play a game of pointing out random items of the house. “See that window?” She asks while pointing. “I do.” I say inquisitively. “That’s our window!” She shouts. This goes on until we run out of things to point at. We fall asleep in our home for the first time, our home.