When We Come To It
“How much further?” Kenny asked.
“If you ask me that one more time, Kenny, I’ll turn this bridge around,” Bob said. “You just keep hammering.”
“My hammering hand is tired,” Kenny replied.
“Then use your other hand,” Bob said.
“Oh, okay,” Kenny switched hammer from his left to his right hand and finished pounding the nail into the board. “Much better.”
A cherry-red Karmann Ghia pulled into view, with several dozen 2×12’s sticking out of the trunk. Bob set his hammer down and made his way across the adjoined planks, to the rocky shore. Woodruff climbed out of the Karmann Ghia and waved to Bob.
“This should do it,” Woodruff said, as Bob drew nearer. “How’s it coming?”
“Great,” Bob said. “Except for some whining from the hammering hobo.”
“Be nice to Kenny,” Woodruff said. “He’s doing us a favor.”
“He’d be doing me a favor if he built more than he belly-ached,” Bob muttered, with a look back out toward the lake.
Kenny knelt at the end of a long bridge that nearly stretched to the island at the center of the lake. Waves lapped up against the buoys that held up the footers and the bridge bobbed gently up and down. The sun hung low in the sky and cast long shadows out over the water.
“Think we’ll get this done before the sun sets?” Woodruff asked.
“Dunno,” Bob said. “Maybe.”
They each grabbed a stack of lumber and headed back over the bouncy bridge.
“Genius idea to float the bridge instead of trying to sink the piles to the bottom of the lake.”
“Thank you, my good man. When you cast aside the umbrella of the advisable inspiration is free to rain down on you.”
“Did you just come up with that?”
“Nah, I got it from a fortune cookie at Panda Express.”
Woodruff and Bob set the long planks down next to where Kenny was fastening that next run of girders together. Bob grabbed his hammer and knelt beside him, while Woodruff let himself down over the side and climbed across the trusses to support the beam from underneath.
“Girder your loins,” Woodruff said.
“Planks for the assistance,” Kenny said.
“Okay Punserella,” Bob said. “Let’s focus.”
“What pickled his pier?” Kenny asked.
“He’s just anxious to get to the island,” Woodruff said. “You know how obsessive he gets about celebrities.”
“Remember Reno?” Kenny asked.
“M-M-M-M-iranda, no, um, M-Meryl, M-M-Miss Streep,” Woodruff pantomimed, with a mocking bow. “It’s an honor.”
“I still say that was Meryl Streep,” Bob said.
“Dressed as a security guard?” Woodruff questioned.
“She was incognito,” Bob said.
“It was a man,” Kenny said.
“With a beard,” Woodruff added.
“In-cog-ni-to,” Bob shot back.
“What about the time we actually met John Krasinski,” Woodruff said.
“You met John Krasinski?” Kenny asked.
“Bob asked if he knew Meryl Streep,” Woodruff replied.
Kenny and Woodruff burst into laughed and Bob threw down his hammer in disgust.
“Are we going to giggle or are we going to build?” Bob said.
“Can’t we do both?” Woodruff asked.
“Meryl Streep could,” Kenny said.
Another round of laughter sent a wave of red up his face like a thermometer on a summer morning.
“The sun is getting low and we’re not going to make it before dark if you two keep messing around.”
“If you’re in such a hurry to get to the island, why don’t you just take a boat?” Kenny asked.
“Because that’s exactly what you’d think you’d want to do,” Bob said. “That’s why nobody has found him yet. If you want to do something that’s never been done before you’ve got to do it the way it’s never been done.”
“Fortune cookie?” Woodruff asked.
“Of course it is,” Bob said. “You know I live my life by the Panda.”
“I could go for some orange chicken,” Kenny said.
“I told you, you’ll get food when we make landfall,” Bob said.
“Bob, you’ve gone full Ahab again,” Woodruff said.
“What did I say about Herman Melville references?” Bob responded with an accusing finger point.
“Only if it’s from Queequeg,” Woodruff and Kenny replied in unison.
“That’s right,” Bob said.
Woodruff climbed up, back onto the deck, and wiped at the lake water splashed across his slacks.
“Well you’ve taken all the fun out of this,” Woodruff said. “I don’t even want to meet Bigfoot anymore.”
“You don’t mean that,” Bob said.
“I do,” Woodruff said. “I hope we never meet him. I hope he stays mythical forever.”
“You don’t know what you’re saying,” Bob said. “What about your list?”
“Bigfoot wasn’t on my list,” Woodruff said. “Meet a legendary creature was on my list and we can check that off since you met Meryl Streep.”
Woodruff made sarcastic quotation marks on the word met.
“So you admit it was Meryl Streep,” Bob said.
“Sometimes I wonder why we’re friends.”
“Convenience and laziness, really.”
“I stay for the food,” Kenny said.
“Fair is fair, Kenny,” Woodruff said. “Come on, we owe you a meal.”
“The bridge is only ninety percent finished,” Bob said.
“Then I’ll buy him ninety percent of a sandwich,” Woodruff replied.
“No one’s going to make you ninety percent of a sandwich.”
“Then I’ll buy one hundred percent of a sandwich and I’ll eat the pickles.”
“You’d eat the pickles anyway!” Bob shouted.
“I do not like pickles,” Kenny said.
“Fine, then he’s going to get one hundred percent of a sandwich,” Woodruff replied.
“For ninety percent work?” Bob said. “That’s quite a deal.”
“Being friends with you is quite a deal!” Woodruff bellowed.
“Thank you!” Bob shouted.
“You’re welcome!” Woodruff replied, as he turned around and stormed off with Kenny trailing behind him.
“Bring me a milkshake!” Bob yelled.
“Chocolate or vanilla?” Woodruff shouted back.
“Chocolate, of course,” Bob said. “Jamocha if they’ve got it!”
“We’re not going to Arby’s!” Woodruff shouted, as he pulled open the car door.
Woodruff and Kenny climbed in the Karmann Ghia and drove away, leaving Bob standing alone at the end of the bridge.
“Is he still upset?” Kenny asked. “I really can’t tell.”
“No, he’s moved into the milkshake phase,” Woodruff said. “You know, denial, anger, bargaining, milkshake.”
Bob watched as the cherry-red car pulled out of sight. For a moment he thought about jumping in the lake to cool off, but he was worried he might land on a crawdad or a baby bass. Instead he set to work finishing the bridge. Just before the upper rim of the sun dipped below the tree line Bob set the last plank from the deck to the sandy banks of the island. He looked up at a large shadowy figure, amongst the trees, looking down on him.