They needed help with painting the house, and their tree man told them about a kid, a second-year student at the tech college and a part-timer with the volunteer fire department, who did odd jobs and might be just the ticket. There was some debate about who should do the talking on the phone—Frank or Mary—and they settled on Frank’s doing it, for the man-to-man angle. He placed the call on Monday, midday. Mary hovered at his side until he told her to please go somewhere and sit down, and she moved six feet away, took a seat at the kitchen table, and folded her hands in her lap. Frank, all business, surprisingly terse, arranged for the boy to come the next afternoon, but then it rained the following three days. Finally on Friday, a battered dusty red pickup rolled into the drive around four o’clock. At that hour, in late June, the sun would start to sink behind the maples and hemlocks on the western side of the property, leaving the little house in shade.
He was very good-looking, medium height, well-built, a bit sunburnt; short blond hair under a green and yellow John Deere cap.
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