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BILL OF SALE / Michael Ashley FOSTER GLUMLY SURVEYED the wreckage of the Sloanes coop . As architect for the renovation of their East Side "dream" home, it was he who was accountable, though not responsible, for the current state of disaster. Electrical cables sprouted from uncovered junction boxes, lights dangled lopsidedly from the ceiling, scratches and gouges adorned previously unblemished walls. Beside the entertainment unit a new hole filled with capellini-thin wire had somehow appeared overnight; Foster had no idea what it was for. He made a note on his cupboard to ask Ron what Earl Sloane was up to now. He sighed, momentarily too depressed to continue cataloging mistakes. The renovation was now so far from his original design that better the Sloanes should Ust it on their resume than he on his. The graceful, spacious look he'd been attempting to create had succumbed instead to dirt and clutter and chaos. Ron had told him last Friday that in all his years of contracting, he had never had to work with anyone more difficult than the Sloanes. Vacillating, capricious, indecisive by nature, they were making everyone's life a misery. By Foster's reckoning, the Sloanes had already set a record for work change orders—alterations to the original contract as based on his blueprints—his first set of blueprints, that is. He was no longer sure what he had intended here; he only knew that he wanted it done with. His confidence had been eroded to the point that he wasn't sure that he could finish. He tucked his clipboard under his arm and walked through the doorless frame into the bedroom. The door, taken down to prevent further damage, was leaning forlornly against the far wall surrounded by a dense pack of power tools and boxes. The floor itself was protected by a layer of heavy construction paper, but a gray patina of fresh dust dulled the surfaces of everything else: the dresser, the nightstands, the TV. The Sloanes' clothes, piled high on their bed, were still covered with plastic drop cloths. Foster grimaced. The room should have been cleaned by this time of day. A faint scratching noise came from the closet so he stuck his head inside. It was Ron Gomez, back to the door, sanding the edges of the new birch shelves. Foster let himself admire this meticulous handiwork for a moment. This was their fourth job together and he The Missouri Review · 279 had come to greatly admire Ron's professionalism. He had aU the quaUties Foster could hope for in a small contractor: experience, reUabiUty, reasonable prices, a steady set of subcontractors, and especiaUy if one was working for the Sloanes, an enviable amount of patience. Which was about to be tested again, because Foster had more bad news. "You'd better stop with those shelves, Ron. It seems there's a sUght problem." Ron looked at him sharply. Foster nodded. "You guessed it. Mrs. Sloane no longer wants birch in here." Ron's entire body seemed to sag. Even his thin moustache drooped. "TeU me you're joking." "Sorry." "Good God. Doesn't that woman ever make up her mind?" "If she does, she hasn't given us any evidence of it." Ron wiped his hands absently on his T-shirt. "What does she want now, cashmere?" "No, she's decided that oak is the ticket." "They already said that oak was too expensive." "Yes, but that was before Mary Sue discovered that birch was, and I quote, 'cheap and shoddy looking.' Never mind that I thought that oak would blend more subtly with the moldings and door casings, that's why I specified it in my plans. But that was then. Now that it's Mary Sue's idea apparently money is no longer an object." Ron exhaled, a long slow breath. "Okay, oak it is," he said. He shook his head tiredly. "But Tm going to need some more money. It's going to cost to rip that birch out, and I'll have to put a deposit down on the oak." "I understand. TU see if I can get a thousand or two. WUl that do...

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Additional Information

ISSN
1548-9930
Print ISSN
0191-1961
Pages
pp. 179-192
Launched on MUSE
2011-10-05
Open Access
No
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