Iris woke an hour or so later and quietly got out of bed. Grabbing her bathrobe, she put it on and went out to the living room. Turning on the TV quietly, she turned it to the local news channel. Heading to the kitchen, she kept an ear out for any advisories. She almost had the coffee ready when a pair of arms wrapped around her. Jeff.
“Hello,” he said in her ear.
“Hello to you. Coffee will be ready in a few minutes,” she said flipping the switch.
“Anything interesting on the news?” he asked.
“No. Same old stuff. No boil orders for this area, and lots of warnings to stay out of disaster zones unless you had a house or business there. Then you are suppose to have proof of residence. You know the routine,” she said. Looking over at the TV, she saw pictures of broken houses, smashed cars and lots of damaged property. This wasn’t a huge tornado, but it certainly did lots of damage.
“Give me a kiss and then I’ll go put your clothes in the dryer. That way you and I can go look at your rubble pile,” she said heading off to the utility room.
“Sounds like a plan,” said Jeff. “I have a bunch of stuff to do today too. Contact my insurance, get some clothes, see what there is to salvage and find a place to live,” he listed off.
“Yeah,” said Iris as she came back into the kitchen. She got out coffee cups and looked in the fridge for milk and something to eat. She grabbed the bagels and cream cheese.
Jeff realized that she’d gotten very quiet. “Did I say something wrong?” he wondered. “Guess I ought to ask.” “Um… Iris, Did I say something to upset you?” he asked.
Iris turned to Jeff. “No, you didn’t. I was just thinking about everything you needed to do and was feeling a little upset that you had to find a place to live and … and,” she stopped, not knowing how to express what she was feeling.
Jeff walked over to Iris and put his arms around her. She tilted her face up to his. “Iris, are you thinking that this afternoon that I’ll just walk out of here and not come back?” he asked.
Iris lowered her eyes and put her head on his chest. “Sort of,” she mumbled.
Jeff raised her head again. “I may have the social graces of an inbred gorilla, but there is no way I’m walking away from you. I’ve been thinking and dreaming about you for a while, and if it took a tornado to drop you into my life, there is no way I’m waking away from you. Unless you don’t want me,” he said.
A look of hope crossed Iris’ face. “Do you mean that?” she asked.
“Yes,” Jeff said.
“Then,… um… Then would you consider moving in with me?” she asked. “I’ve got all this room, and I don’t use half of it and I could clear part of the office for you and…” she was revving up and talking faster and faster.
“Whoa! Slow down,” Jeff said. He moved towards the table and they both sat down. “Iris, are you sure you want me to move in? Sure it isn’t just a bunch of hormones from really good sex?”
“Wait a minute, you just said you didn’t want to walk away from you, but the moment I mention that you could move in with me, you put on the brakes. I don’t understand,” she said.
Jeff took a deep breath. “Hold on. We are going all crabbed at this. Yes, I want you in my life. Do you want me?” he asked.
“Okay. Now. You offered to let me move in, correct?” he asked.
“Yes. You’d have to help with the bills, but yes,” she said.
“Okay, as long as I get to help pay the bills, I accept,” Jeff said.
“Good. Let’s get some coffee and plan the rest of the day,” Iris said.
“I like this idea. Got any paper? I’m a list maker,” he said.
Iris smiled and opened a drawer which had paper, pens and other bits and pieces. She handed him a pad of paper and a pen. “Have at it,” she said and then poured coffee and started toasting bagels.
Jeff quickly made a list and then started in on the bagels and coffee Iris set in front of him. Iris took a look at his list. She nodded and added a few things. Jeff was curious and turned the list to see what she’d added. Groceries, and some bits for herself. It was going to be a busy day.
An hour later, they were on the road and heading for his pile of rubble as Iris had named it. It really was one in the daylight. They had to park his car about two blocks away and walked in. Jeff kept his eyes to the ground as the street was littered with debris. When they got to his address, they just stood there.
“This looks like that scene in Twister. I know it was a house, but I’ve seen wrecking balls do less damage,” Iris said.
“I… I agree. I can’t even recognize a single bit of my life,” Jeff said rather disheartened. He walked around the rubble and picked at pieces here and there. Torn books, shattered glass, bent frames, and lots of shredded fabric. It might have been clothes, curtains or bedding. He kicked at a few things and then walked further into the rubble. Iris watched Jeff’s shoulders slump. She didn’t know what to do except stand there.
Jeff walked for nearly twenty minutes, crossing back and forth in a grid. He’d picked up a couple of small items and stuffed them in his pockets. Nothing else even looked like it had been something once upon a time. Finally, he stood up and looked around for one of the fire marshals that had been circling the site. He walked towards him and waved. The man headed his direction.
“Hi, I’m Jeff Roybal, I use to live here. I’ve looked around, and I can’t identify anything worth saving. I was told that you or someone had a piece of paper I could sign and give to my insurance as a write-off,” he said.
“Yes sir,” said the fire marshal. “I have it right here. Sign under your address block and I’ll give you a copy,” he said handing a clip board over to Jeff.
Jeff scanned it for a few seconds, found the place to sign and did so. Then he gave it back to the fire marshal. The man nodded his head while he pulled a carbon out from underneath and gave it to Jeff.
“There you go. Good luck. Most people will get their claims in about a month. A little longer if you lost a car,” he said.
“Thanks,” said Jeff. He folded the paper and stuffed it in his pocket. When he reached Iris, he took her hand and headed back to his car.
“You okay?” she asked.
“No, but there is nothing left. I found two small items and the rest was so damaged, that I couldn’t even honestly say it was mine.”
Iris stopped and turned to Jeff. Then she wrapped her arms around him and hugged him. “I’m sorry Jeff,” she said into his chest.
“Thanks, now let’s go tackle the rest of that list,” he said as they headed to the car.
Three hours later, Jeff had enough clothing to keep on working, Iris had bought groceries and felt like she had even snuck in a surprise for later. When they got back to her house, she put away groceries while Jeff tackled the insurance company. He hit the yelling point a few times, but nothing too bad. Iris made dinner and they ate in relative quiet, discussing ways to re-arrange the house to accommodate Jeff and his needs.
“I’m going to go shower, if you’ll load up the dishwasher,” she said.
“Sure, No problem,” said Jeff.
Iris headed off to the shower with the small bag of stuff she’d bought at the store while Jeff had been looking at computers. She showered quickly and wrapped up in her bathrobe after she dressed in her purchases. She could hear Jeff in the bedroom they had designated as his office.
“Jeff,” she said at the doorway.
“Yes,” he said not looking up.
“Are you ready for bed?” she asked.
“No, I’ve got a few hours more work to do,” he said still not turning away from his computer.
“Are you sure?” she asked as she opened her robe.
“Huh?” asked Jeff wondering why she was being so insistent. He turned to look at her and saw a vision of loveliness standing in the doorway. Iris was dressed in a little peach colored nightie with tiny peach panties that hid nothing. Her legs were covered in peach thigh high stockings and she had on a pair of pearl colored slip ons with a tiny heel. She was trying to stand like a magazine model, and show off her body. It worked.
“Umm. Ah, um… Iris, I think I’m ready to go to bed,” he said. He walked away from his computer and followed Iris to the bedroom.