Neva drove up the highway around 10am. She’d slept in, and almost called off the work day, but she wanted to work on JR. She turned onto Jesse’s property and didn’t see his truck, or any signs of life. She pulled in next to JR and got out. No one. She walked over to the house and knocked on the door. No answer. Neva shrugged and headed for the truck. Taking the tools out of her truck, she got to work on removing the damaged bed timbers. There were three shattered ones and one broken about halfway down the bed. A few others could use some attention with a sander, but otherwise were sound.
Neva took her time. Looking around the barn, she couldn’t find the timbers Jesse had mentioned. Setting the damaged timbers against a wall, she worked on the fittings and rough sections with the sander. Twenty minutes later, she thought she heard something and took off the headset and glasses to find Jesse standing next to the truck.
“How long have you been standing there?” she asked.
“About two minutes. I called your name twice. Knew better than to touch you with a power tool in your hand,” he said.
“Okay. Where were you this morning?”
“I had to run to town. I tried calling you, but all I got was the answering machine. Take a break and have some lunch,” he said and headed back to his house. Neva got out of the truck bed and followed.
When she got to the kitchen, the smell of coffee made her realize how long it had been since breakfast. Looking up at the clock, she saw it was nearly 1pm. Jesse was setting out sandwich fixings, salad and chips.
“I have roast beef, pastrami and turkey. Two kinds of cheese as well. Wasn’t sure how hungry you’d be,” he said as he made his own sandwich.
“I didn’t realize how hungry I was either,” Neva said as she made a roast beef sandwich with provolone slices and tomatoes. She took a plate, added salad and chips and then sat down. Jesse put a cup of coffee next to her and then sat down himself. They ate in silence for a few minutes.
“Thank you for last night,” Neva said at last.
Jesse looked at her with a slightly puzzled look.
“For taking care of the drunk and for being a gentleman,” she elaborated.
“It was nice for you to come into town too, especially as I canceled on you,” said Neva.
“It wasn’t a problem. I like your company. To be honest, you’re intelligent, good with tools, you like my truck and you aren’t bad looking,” he said with a smile.
“That’s my truck,” she retorted.
“Ah, but why have you left it up here instead of getting it home?” he teased.
Neva smiled. “Well, I haven’t had anyone offer to help me take JR home. Oh, and I think the former own promised to help me fix ‘his’ truck.”
Jesse smiled. They finished their lunches and then went back out to work on JR. Jesse hauled out the timbers he’d set aside for the bed. It took about an hour for them to get all the timbers in place and sanded.
“Do you want to stain them before we start varnishing them?” Jesse asked.
“I want to do a light oak stain, varnish them and then set in the metal strips between the boards,” she said. “We need to get the metal cleaned up too.”
Jesse nodded. “I’ve got some oak stain in the shed. Wipe down the boards and we’ll get it done before we quit for the day.”
It was Neva’s turn to nod. She grabbed a rag and started wiping the boards down. By the time she finished, Jesse was back. With the stain between them, they worked on the timbers. It took less than thirty minutes.
“Give me those rags and I’ll dump them in the trash,” said Jesse.
“Okay. I’m going to go inside. The fumes from that stain have my head spinning,” said Neva as she headed to the kitchen to clean up.
Jesse took the rags and tossed them in the burn barrel for later. He headed back towards the house just in time to see Neva faint. He ran, but was not in time to catch her. He picked Neva up and carried her inside. He set her on the sofa just as she came back around.
“Oh shit. My head’s still spinning,” she said.
“Those fumes weren’t too bad. At least to me. You must have inhaled more than I did. Just sit still and let me check your head,” said Jesse.
“Yes. You thumped it pretty hard on the ground when you went over backwards,” Jesse said. He checked her scalp, and after picking a few burrs and grass seeds out of it found where she’d cut her head. “Not a bad cut. I’ll be right back. Stay put.”
Neva started to nod and changed her mind. Her head was beginning to throb. Jesse was back in a minute and had water, a towel, a washrag and a first aid kit. He cleaned up the cut first.
“Ow!” squeaked Neva.
“It isn’t bad. More of a scrape than a cut now that I can see it. Let me put some anti-biotic cream on it and you’ll be fine.”
“Can I have some aspirin or tylenol?” she asked.
Jesse checked Neva’s eyes. “No concussion so far, which is a good thing. Or, it’s so slight as to be no never mind.”
“Good. Can I have some aspirin?” Neva asked again. Her head was pounding from the fumes and the thump.
Jesse walked back to the kitchen and was back in a few minutes with water and two tylenol. “Will these do?”
“Yes.” Neva took the painkillers and then tried to sit up more.
“Oh no you don’t. I want you to lay here. I’ll finish putting the tools away and covering up JR. Don’t you move.”
“Alright Jesse,” said Neva softly. All she really wanted to do was close her eyes.
By the time Jesse got back from putting everything away, Neva was asleep. He checked her pulse and the cut to see if she had any swelling. Nothing. He covered her with a blanket and went to go clean up.
“Neva, wake up,” said Jesse softly.
Neva blinked. The room was nearly dark. “Um… how long was I out?”
“A couple of hours. The sun set just a bit ago. I’ve got dinner read if you’re hungry.”
Neva sat up and regretted it. “Um,… It’s going to take me a minute,” she said.
“Let me look at your eyes,” said Jesse.
“If my head didn’t hurt, I’d swear you were making a pass at me.”
“Well, you show slight signs of a concussion. How about I bring your dinner to you?” he asked.
“Okay. I’ll go for that. Then I need to get home.”
“Neva, if you can’t walk to the table, we need to discuss a few things,” said Jesse as he walked to the kitchen.
Neva thought about it and realized he was probably right. She sat up slowly and managed to not let the room spin by the time he got a tray and her dinner out to her. After giving her the food, he got his own.
“This is good even though it hurts to chew.”
“Burritos are always good. Fast too,” said Jesse. They ate in relative quiet. Neva knew her head was still pounding after she finished.
“How are we getting me home?” she asked.
“We have two choices. Either you stay here for the night, and we’ll see how you are in the morning, or I drive you home and stay the night there,” said Jesse.
“Oh. And if I’m not alright?”
“I take you to the emergency room. Either way, I don’t think you’re going to work tomorrow.”
“I’ll be fine,” said Neva.
“Oh? Stand up then.” Jesse moved the tray away from Neva. Neva stood up, and promptly collapsed into Jesse’s arms. He finished picking her up and carried her to his bedroom. Once there, he put her on the bed.
“Now, it’s up to you. Clothes, no clothes. Me in here, or me on the couch. Decide and let me know when I’m back from putting away dinner.”
Neva blinked and looked at Jesse as he walked out of the bedroom. “Well, this is a fine mess.” she thought. Carefully, she took off her shoes and socks. Then she slid out of her jeans and outer shirt. She dropped her bra on top of her clothes and then crawled into bed wearing her tee-shirt and panties.
It seemed like it took forever to do just that simple job, and she was almost under the covers when Jesse came back.
“Ah, I see you’ve made a choice or two. Now. Where am I sleeping?” he asked.
“I… I don’t care,” she said. Her head had not taken kindly to the movements of undressing.
“Alright then. I’ll sleep on the couch. I’ll leave the hall light on in case you wake up confused in the night.” He finished by tucking her in, kissing the top of her head and turning out the light.