Carter’s dad finally turned around to face Carter after inspecting his work on the garage.
“Keep going like this and you might actually get that last week of summer at Mason’s cabin,” Carter’s dad said. Carter had been working on the garage all day and now it was after supper.
“Really?” Carter asked, trying not to get his hopes up
His dad picked up a painting of stream running through a forest in a textured gold frame from the “to sell” table. “I don’t remember owning this.”
The “to sell” table was piled high with books and gadgets while the bed of the pick-up truck was half-full already. A number of new boxes had been packed and labelled. However, just looking in the garage, it looked like he’d barely made a dent.
Suddenly, loud crashing noise came from next door. “What was that?” his dad asked as he stepped back to get a better look at Mr. Stalnaker’s house.
“Probably trying to come up with another way to annoy the neighbours.” He went on to tell his dad about his encounter with Mr. Stalnaker that morning. “Check out his lawn,” he said, laughing.
Mr. Stalnaker’s lawn looked like someone had tried to cut it with a weedwacker rather than a lawn mower. There were patches of long grass mixed with trails of short grass that crisscrossed across the yard.
As they walked closer they saw Mr. Stalnaker dragging a small wooden desk from the garage.
“Evening Wally,” his dad greeted Mr. Stalnaker. “What are you up to?”
Mr. Stalnaker grunted as he continued to drag the desk down the driveway. Finally, halfway down the drive, he dropped his end with a grunt. He gave them a grim smile. “Just getting ready for tomorrow morning.”
“Parties have been a bit much lately, huh?” Carter’s father said.
“Ha! Yeah, you could say that. A man needs his sleep.”
“I agree. What’s with the desk though?”
“I’m going to make it into firewood tomorrow. Just bought myself a brand new chain saw,” he grinned at them.
“Er, do you think that’s safe?” Carter’s dad asked.
“’Course it is. I know what I’m doing,” Mr. Stalnaker huffed.
Carter and his dad shared a look.
“How about instead, we join forces?” his dad suggested.
“What do you have in mind?”
“I’m giving Carter a bunch of jobs to do over the summer. How about he spends a couple of his mornings at your house mowing the lawn, weed-whacking, power-washing. Whatever loud things we can think of? But we put the saw away?”
Mr. Stalkner scratched his head and muttered to himself as he thought it over. “S’mightly nice of you to offer, but I’m going to stick with the chainsaw. Nice and loud.” He grinned.
Carter and his dad watched his limped gait as he lumbered back into the house. “Good job with the garage today,” he said, squeezing Carter’s shoulder. “I have to make a phone call. Tomorrow, I want you to head over to Mr. Stalkner’s house first thing and offer to help again.”
“Okay, but I don’t think he’ll agree . . ..” Carter trailed off when he realized his dad wasn’t listening. He was already walking into the house.
“Close up the garage before you come in,” he called back as the screen door slammed shut behind him.