After comparing price, reputation and availability, Casey took the second quote to get the decking finished. He had started it himself when he and Tammy were together, but had never quite finished it. He was sure it wasn’t the only reason they split up, but when he asked her for a reason, that was all she said.
“It’s like… it’s like the decking, Casey.”
Well, she’d said some other stuff, but he couldn’t remember, he hadn’t really been paying attention. He never really paid attention. Not for not wanting to – after four years together, he figured he probably had wanted to know more about it. But, it was like his ears only heard the first two or three sentences, and then his body made all the appropriate reactions – he got angry, he cried, he begged, he threw something. What had she actually said? Who knows?
He’d finally decided, three years after starting the decking, that he should probably finish it. He’d put on his work clothes and gone to check it out. The tarp had come off the edge of the wood and some of it was pretty warped. He had stopped for a cigarette to think about the next step. He thought he could probably pull it out, see what was worth keeping. He pulled off the tarp and spread the wood out. The pieces which had to go were put to one side, and the rest spread out. He was sweating a bit, and decided to grab a drink. He threw back a glass of water, then opened the fridge and grabbed a beer. Casey sat on the back step and had another cigarette. He finished the can, and threw it near the side of the house – it could go in the recycling later. He grabbed a piece of timber and put it where it probably went. He grabbed another can of beer and headed to the garage to grab his tools. Casey hadn’t been in the garage since Tammy left. The light flickered on briefly before the bulb blew. The bulbs were in the kitchen. On the way in, he finished the can, crushed it and put it next to the bin. He grabbed a new bulb, a new beer and lit up. Back in the garage, he opened the main door and looked at what he could see in the light. There were boxes, her old exercise bike that hadn’t been touched for god knows how long, and a lot of general mess – for some reason, lots and lots of piles of newspapers. He removed the old bulb and discovered the bulb he had didn’t fit. He took both the bulbs back to the kitchen, along with the empty beer can. He rummaged through the bulbs and found one which would probably fit. He gave it a little shake and was pleased that he didn’t hear the tinkling which meant that the bulb was broken. With a fresh beer in his hand, he replaced the bulb in the garage. He saw his transistor radio, and flicked it on. The cricket was playing. He opened his tool box and looked for the hammer, but it was nowhere to be seen. He looked around, but couldn’t see it anywhere. The crowd roared through the radio – Ponting was out! Casey ran inside, throwing the empty can near the side of the house, grabbing another and flicking on his television. It was worth it – it was a classic out. By the time of the fifth replay, the can was almost empty. Casey went to the kitchen, got his small esky and filled it with beer and got settled on the couch.
The next day, Casey woke on the couch, half a beer tucked in next to him, the esky empty. He got up, his head throbbing, went to the bathroom. He grabbed the empty beer cans to take them to the bin. Opening the back door, he was shocked to discover his backyard was covered in newspaper. The garage door was open and, after dumping the cans in the recycling, he found the radio still on in the garage, the main door open and far fewer newspapers in piles. And the hammer on the floor in the middle of the room. He flicked off the radio, shut the door and headed back to the house. He made a cup of tea, sat down and started calling contractors.