A Wild Endeavour
(and yes, I did steal the title from my own journal, but with good reason!)
The man in question lifted his eyes from the page he was currently reading, extremely grateful for the interruption. He wasn’t quite sure how a New York Times bestseller managed to be so awful, or why he’d decided to try reading it in the first place. Books about women traveling the world to ‘find themselves’ weren’t really his style.
For a moment he contemplated leaving the book on his table- pretend he’d forgotten it and let someone else share in the vapid narrator’s world- but thought better of it. He could always donate the thing to some library or a Goodwill and earn some “good citizen” points. He picked it up reluctantly as he stood to finally answer the poor barista, who was still holding his coffee out over the counter, waiting for him. He never liked to make a lady wait.
“Sorry,” he said with a self-deprecating smile as he took the paper cup off her hands. “Sometimes I zone out a bit.”
“Oh, it’s no trouble, sir. Have a good day.” The faint pink that spread across her cheeks told him he still had it.
“Thank you…Rita. You, too.” She looked startled for moment until he gestured at the nametag pinned to her shirt. He flashed her another charming grin before he left.
Almost immediately after stepping outside, he felt smothered. The air was humid and it clung to him greedily. All of the glass, metal, and pavement in this part of town did nothing to help- it just reflected the sunlight more harshly into his eyes. Of course, a Gallagher was nothing if not prepared, and he pulled his ever-present sunglasses off his collar to slide them over his eyes.
“Much better,” he proclaimed to no one; and then felt self-conscious when the man walking his dog beside him shot him a look.
There was nothing he wanted more than some AC and a marathon of whatever show TBS was playing today, but he’d come into the city for a reason and knew he wouldn’t be able to return home until evening, at least.
After a ten minute walk, he stopped across from the oldest building that hadn’t been renovated in the entire city: a brick-and-mortar affair that looked not nearly as solid as it should have. There was nothing stopping him from going inside- no doorman or keypad or anything official, but there was no point if the man he was there to visit wasn’t even awake yet.
Shifting his coffee and the horrid paperback into one hand, he pulled out his phone from his back pocket and hit a key, speed-dialing. The routine was so familiar he didn’t even look to make sure he’d hit the right number. He stood on the sidewalk across the street from the front door and stared at the window of his, well, business partner: three floors up, right front corner. A month ago he would have called him his “favorite-bartender-and-casual-
Jed Thomas finally answered on the other end, and there was a bit of shuffling before a groggy voice gave his customary greeting: “You’ve got Jed. This better be good.”
Without preamble, Shaun started in on his newest scheme, hoping to finish before he was cut off.
“A great man once said ‘A straight line may be the shortest distance between two points, but it is by no means the most interesting.’” He took a breath to continue, but Jed cut him off like always.
“’A great man’, eh? Sounds like someone’s been watching too much television. Again.” The man’s tone was exasperated, if not accusing.
“Okay, yes, fine, you’ve caught me. But at least its good quality British programming and not the drivel everyone else around here considers entertainment! And I happen to know that you love science fiction,” he continued, defensive and warming up to the argument, “Don’t pretend you don’t.”
“Alright, alright! Jeez. What exactly is the point you’re trying to make here, Shaunathan?”
He chose to ignore the irksome nickname Jed was so fond of calling him and returned to his earlier topic.
“Right. I’ve got an idea for how we can solve our little…problem. Of course, you’ll need to be open-minded because this will take quite a bit of doing…”
There was a sigh from the other end of the line. “With you, I’ve learned to expect that.”
“Would you shut it? I’m on a roll here.”
“Sorry,” Jed mumbled, sounding anything but.
Jed reluctantly hauled himself out of bed and pulled on a pair of jeans and, after a glance and a sniff to make sure it wasn’t noticeably dirty, the same t-shirt he’d worn the previous day. Obviously he wouldn’t be allowed to go back to sleep anytime soon.
“Okay. We’ve got this property. We haven’t any idea what to do with it, no one is looking to buy a dusty old lot in the middle of nowhere, and it’s basically sitting there mocking us. But my Great-Uncle William- who wasn’t all that great, in my humble opinion- wouldn’t want us to sell it anyway, seeing as though he expressly stated in his will ‘don’t sell the Heywood property.’ Although I’ve never listened to him before and I’m not sure why I should start now, especially since he’s dead…but that’s beside the point.”
Jed waited somewhat patiently with the phone pressed to his ear, knowing the other man could rant for a while once he got going.
“He trusted that property to me—“
Unfortunately for Mr. Gallagher, at this, Jed felt he had no choice but to cut in again.
“To us. He also expressly stated in his will that he didn’t trust you to handle this on your own, and put me in charge. Well, co-in charge. We share that land, don’t you go forgetting it.”
“How could I, with you reminding me every other day? I’ve yet to understand why good old Bill wanted his local ‘barkeep’ in on this scheme. What’d you ever do to earn that sort of trust?”
“Obviously it doesn’t take much,” he replied, dodging the question, “He gave half the responsibility to a self-proclaimed yo-yo master.” There was a moment of silence before Shaun spoke again, and Jed was glad his attempt to sidetrack him was working. He also noticed that Shaun’s voice when he continued was clipped, as if he was trying not to shout. Imagining the carefully put-together man’s face, red with anger, almost made him crack up. It was like a puppy pretending to be a wolf.
“You know very well that I won the county-wide Yo-Yo Jamboree in ninth grade! And made it to qualifying at the State Championships, thank-you-very-much.”
Jed pulled back the curtain a bit to look outside and almost closed it again when the light hit him. Once his eyes finally adjusted, he caught a glimpse of Shaun on the sidewalk below, just as he suspected. He was on the bench there, clutching a Starbucks cup and seemingly attempting to sit as far as possible from some book. Jed squinted, but couldn’t make out the title. “Only to completely lose it with your final… exhibition… show… performance thing,” he continued smugly, letting the curtain fall back in place.
“I got seventh! In the whole state! That’s not bad. Besides, I was his favorite great-nephew so of course he trusted me and as I was saying---”
“You’re his only great-nephew,” he countered.
“As I was saying,” Shaun continued, ignoring Jed’s remark, “he trusted me…” he heard an intake of breath and rolled his eyes, deciding to revise his statement before he could be interrupted yet again, “trusted us to take care of that land. Turn it into something to make some money or, I don’t know, do something nice for the community.”
“And you’ve got an idea now, have you?”
“Yes. The thing is…” in an attempt to stall, he took a sip of his too-sweet coffee. He grimaced and tossed the half-empty cup into a nearby bin before returning to his seat on the bench. Maybe this wasn’t such a good idea to run by Jed. Last time he tried something like this his ear was practically bleeding by the time the other man finished. Already, his voice was strained with impatience.
“Out with it, already! I need a shower and a beer and this conversation is accomplishing neither.”
“Fine, but remember, you asked for it…”
He waited a beat, working up the courage before finally delivering the news.
“We’re going to need a monkey.”
In other news, I bought a new camera because I needed one for my Photography class (this sounds entirely too hipster) and my old Kodak was rubbish, anyway. I've named it Epsilon and can't keep from taking pictures of basically anything nearby.
Our first assignment is to go out and take at least 40 images that relate to a Man v. Nature type theme, so that's what I'll be doing for the rest of the day. If I get any good ones maybe I'll post them here...