Kinney Bros. Inc.
“Hi. Didn’t you just leave like twenty minutes ago?”
“Yeah, but I just had to call you.”
It was mid-March, and the Kinney Bros. Inc. construction projects were well on their way to becoming a reality. JR took a little detour from the loft she shared with Jacqueline before heading to the comic book store.
“Nothing! Absolutely nothing.”
“I’m at the construction site.”
“They have all the wood up!”
“Are there walls?”
“No. Just the skeleton.”
“So, it’s just the bones of the bungalow,” Jacqueline said.
“I guess so. How do you know this stuff?” JR asked.
“I read a lot,” Jacq teased. “So, what’s it look like?”
“I can see where the front door will be and the sides of the house, but all the crisscrossed wood inside is confusing,” JR replied. “No porch yet.”
“I’m sure when the walls are up it will make more sense. Are the guys working?”
“Not yet. They’re hovering by the food truck. And I don’t see Gordon but he doesn’t have far to go.”
“What do you mean?”
“Gordon lives in the house attached to the Village florist.”
“Oh, I wasn’t aware. No matter. That may be convenient if we have questions or something breaks down.”
“Nothing’s going to break. We’re getting a brand new house; besides John and Gordon are building geniuses.”
“If you say so.”
“No argument here. I gotta go, Babe, we’re starting production on a new line of bikes. I want to be there.”
“Okay. Will you be late tonight?”
“Not sure. Take pictures and we can go through them when I get home.”
“Sounds good. See you later. Love you.”
“Love you too.” When her call ended, JR took a bunch of pictures before putting away her phone. She stood across the street from her potentially new home, staring in awe.
“JR, is that you, honey?” JR turned toward the voice.
“Grandpa!” JR shouted as she threw her arms around Danny giving him a strong Debbie-like hug. “Good morning!”
“Good morning to you, young lady. Isn’t it a bit too cold to be standing on street corners?” Danny teased.
“Normally but not today. That’s going to be my house!” JR said with excitement as she pointed to the new construction.
“So, it’s you I have to thank for all the construction noise,” Danny said with a stern face.
“Is it really that noisy?” JR asked with concern.
“Surprisingly, it’s the most quiet and neatest construction site I’ve ever known,” laughed Danny. “Maybe because Gordon lives across the street and they know there’s a baby in that cottage.” Danny pointed to the cottage in the middle of the block. “Whatever the reason, we’re all very grateful. Do you have a projected date of completion?”
“John said probably May. I wish it were tomorrow.”
“Patience has its own rewards,” Danny said sagely.
“I guess so.”
“I know so. They’ll get the job done and done correctly. Look at the beautiful job they did here,” Danny said with a flourish as he swung his arm around pointing at the features of the Village including the garden.
“I know, you’re right. I’ve been impatient ever since John showed me his drawings of our house.” JR pulled her phone out of her bag to show Danny.
“It’s going to be lovely,” Danny gushed. Then he noticed the time. “Oh,look at the time, I have to open up.”
“Me too,” JR said as she took back her phone. “I wish I had time for one of your hot chocolates.”
“We can have the next best thing,” Danny said as he guided her toward the food truck.
“Are you sure; I thought it was just for the work crew.”
“Nope, they are an equal opportunity food truck. And they have a very nice selection of breakfast sandwiches,” Danny whispered from experience, making JR laugh. “My treat!”
“Oh Grandpa,” she said as she gave a grandfather a peck on the cheek.
Danny and JR went to work with breakfast in hand and after bidding a good morning to the construction crew.
“Gus?” Bree whispered into her cell phone. Gus and Ray were strolling into Kinnetik. It was still very early; the only other two people in the office were Ted and Cynthia. Even Alvin wasn’t at his reception desk.
“Hey, little sis. You got time to talk?”
“Yeah, I’m on the bus. We’re maybe a half an hour away from school. What’s up?”
“Did you get a chance to look over the Liberty Air ad boards?”
“Yes, I like them. The changes are subtle but really good. I think they’ll go for it.”
“I think so too. Did you show Dad?”
“No, I thought you were going to do it.”
“I was but I think I’d like to surprise him,” Gus said.
“I don’t think that’s a good idea. He’s already had a big surprise.”
“What did you do?” Gus sing-songed.
Bree spilled to Gus all about her date, how it came about and even her conversation with JR.
“I can’t leave you two alone for a minute,” Gus laughed. “No worries, I’ll send him a copy. It’ll give him time to get used to the ideas.”
“He’ll like it. I know he will.”
“Thanks. But it’s because you helped. You have a real eye for the art. I can’t wait until you work together with me.”
“Like I’m not doing that now,” Bree snarked.
“You know what I mean.”
“Yeah, I do and I can’t wait either,” Bree said as her voice softened.
“So, I’ll clear the ad with Pop then set up an appointment with Liberty. I’d like you to be there.”
“Dada’ll freak if I take a day off from school,” Bree said with a sigh.
“Isn’t Spring break coming up soon?”
“Send me the dates and I’ll try to schedule it then.”
“You sure you can wait that long?”
“Yes, the contract isn’t due until July but you know how Dad likes everything prepared early.”
“Boy, do I!” Brother and sister laughed. “Okay, let me know.”
“I will and thanks, little sis. Love you.”
“Love you too. Later!”
“Who was that on the phone?” Winona asked. Bree had known Winona since grade school; she wasn’t the easiest person to be friends with, but besides Ashley, Winona was a good friend.
“He’s your brother, right?” Bree nodded. Winona had met Gus a few times at the lane or when Gus would sometimes pick Bree up from school. Winona always thought Gus was very good looking. “What’s he doing now? I bet he’s married to some princess or something.”
Bree shook her head.
“Gus works at my dad’s company in the city and he’s sort of married. He lives with his boyfriend.”
“Oh,” was all that Winona could say as she thought, ‘Why were all the good ones, gay?’ “Your conversation sounded pretty important.”
“Eavesdropping is rude,” Bree snapped.
“I couldn’t help it; you’re sitting right next to me!” Winona snapped back. By the time Bree and Patrick got onto the school bus there were only a few seats left. Ashley was all the way in the back and they didn’t have time to switch seats.
“It was work,” Bree sort of explained.
“Work? Since when do you have a job? And aren’t you a little too young to be working?”
“It’s not really working, it’s more like consulting and I’ve been doing it for a while now,” Bree tried to explain. No one outside of the family really understood and it was difficult to explain. Besides, it was nobody’s business.
“So do you get paid?”
“Yes, but on commission and it all goes into my college fund.”
“Oh,” Winona said. Her curiosity would have to wait for another time as the bus pulled up in front of the school and discharged its noisy passengers.
“Morning, John-boy. Can’t stay away, can you?” Gordon greeted John. It was mid-morning when John arrived at the Village site. He had inspected the other building sites prior to his arrival. All were on schedule.
“No, I can’t,” John said shaking his head. “This means a lot to me.” Gordon clapped him on the back.
“This means a lot to a lot of people,” Gordon stated with a knowing smile.
They stood back to watch the crews on each side of Jamie and Leda’s cottage, working. The construction crews were comprised of the “old” masters, the men that started out with John and Gordon when they first created their company. Then some of the first “grads” of Hunter’s program. And the next generation still learning their craft at the masters’ feet. Plus some of the sons and daughters of the masters, proudly working side by side with their fathers.
“I never thought I’d see anything like this,” John murmured. “We did good.”
“Yes, we did. Now enough chatter and more working. Does that beam look right to you?” Gordon pointed.
John followed Gordon’s finger then shouted a loud, “Hold up!” as he sprinted across the street with Gordon in tow.
“What did Bree say?” asked Ray as he and Gus went to the kitchen in search of breakfast. The Kinnetik office manager made sure there was always a fresh supply of Emmett’s finest muffins on hand for breakfast. And there was an unwritten rule that the first to enter the kitchen would start the coffee.
“She likes them; she could see the differences but like you pointed out, the differences are very subtle. I’m sure Dad will notice them,” Gus added.
“It’s really just a fresh updated perspective on the original ad. The original is one in a million but it is twenty years old. No one will argue about the update.”
Ray could tell that Gus was nervous about the ad. Liberty Air was one of Kinnetik’s largest accounts and one of Brian’s first with Kinnetik. It had to be right.
“Run it by Cynthia first and then your dad. If she’s good with it then there’s nothing to worry about,” Ray suggested. Gus nodded. Ray’s advice, as usual, made sense.
“What about the contract work?” Gus asked as he eyed a corn muffin.
“Mel and I already went over it. I think all parties will be happy,” Ray replied.
“You and Momma make a good team,” Gus said with a smile.
“I agree and there’s no stopping her. She told me she’s heading up to Kinnetik North in a couple days. Are you going with her?”
“I wasn’t planning on it. Besides, you and I were there a few months ago. I’m surprised you don’t want to go. I think she’s going to talk lawyer stuff,” Gus said before biting into his muffin.
“If she wanted me to go, I’m sure she would have mentioned it,” Ray said as he found a raisin bran muffin. “If she needs my input, there’s this great invention called a phone,” Ray snarked. Gus stuck his tongue out at him. “Eiw, gross.”
Just then Alvin walked into the kitchen. He noticed the large coffee urn was already brewing.
“What’s gross, and how do you guys do it?” Alvin asked.
“Do what?” Gus replied ignoring the gross part.
“Get in before me and remember to turn on the coffee,” Alvin inquired.
“We’re up with the birds and I like my coffee,” Gus explained.
“I don’t understand why we have this large urn going when we have the K-cup machine,” said Alvin. Alvin was a tea person and never understood the attraction to coffee. He selected his favorite flavor of tea then used the K-cup machine. He gave his tea a cursory sniff to verify that no coffee contaminated his tea.
Gus did a double take while Ray shook his head.
“Alvin, let me offer you some advice that will ensure job security,” Ray began as he and Gus walked the receptionist out of the kitchen and towards his lobby desk. “Never mess with Brian Kinney’s coffee.”
“Oh, okay. Thank you,” Alvin said as looked down at the Earl Grey in his mug. He settled himself at his desk and began checking his messages.
“Mr. Taylor,” Lucas carefully called out as he gently tapped Justin on the shoulder. Justin had his ear buds in, bopping to his music while putting the finishing touches onto his painting. Lucas was afraid of startling the artist who was deep in the artistic mode.
“Hi, Lucas,” Justin began as he took out one ear bud. “And the name is Justin. Mr. Taylor is my father,” Justin reminded the boy.
“Yes sir,” Lucas replied shyly. He wasn’t as shy as William but very cautious with new people. “It looks done,” Lucas referred to the painting.
“It’s getting there. I have to wait until some of it dries before I can add more to it. And sometimes I don’t know when to stop,” Justin said, feeling his face begin to blush. “I have to step back and wait a few days so I can look at it with fresh eyes. Sometimes I ask my family if a piece looks finished or not,” Justin explained.
“Do you live with artists?” Elijah asked. He had a lot of talent drawing cartoons and caricatures. Plus, he was curious about everything.
“Yes, in a way. My partner is in advertising. You can’t be very successful without having an eye for color, words, and detail. I often paint with my daughter; she’s very talented. And then there’s my partner’s brother. He’s an architect and builder. You need vision to design a building that’s pleasing to the eye,” Justin smiled.
As Justin spoke, he dabbed a little more paint onto his canvas, unaware that his remarks were sinking into his charges. Even the aloof Ethan was affected.
“My daughter will often scold me if I keep messing with a canvas that in her opinion, was completed weeks ago,” Justin laughed. “Even as toddler, she’d yell at me, and she’d be right. I can get carried away sometimes, especially when I’m painting flowers or the sunflower meadow that’s near our cottage. My partner has been known to physically remove my paint brush from my hand.
“Of course, we’d argue about it, he’d distract me for a while then when I’d return to the canvas, I knew he was right. Sometimes you need someone around to let you know when you’ve gotten carried away. Lindsay’s great at that too.”
“What size paintings do you like best?” James asked. He seemed to like working with pencil or charcoal.
“That’s a difficult question. I’ve done miniatures and very large canvases. I guess it depends on the inspiration. But enough about me. Let’s get to work.”
The kids took their places around the large room in areas that they adopted as their own. Fortunately, everyone respected each space so very little squabbling took place. Justin was impressed by their concentration. Once he got going, even Ethan dropped the tough guy act and picked up a sketch pad. He hadn’t shown Justin any of his drawings yet but at least Ethan was drawing.
Several hours later a familiar voice called out to Justin.
“Hey, Justin, are you almost ready to go home?” John asked as he stood by the door.
“Hey, John,” Justin replied with smile. “A few more minutes; we’re cleaning up now. Long day?” Justin asked. John looked tired. “Come in and sit down.”
“Thanks, yeah, we had to re-hang a beam in JR’s bungalow. It just wasn’t looking right,” John explained.
“Did it take a long time?” Justin asked as he watched the kids pack up their supplies and neatly return everything to the supply closet.
“Not really, it happens occasionally but we were able to fix it before the joists went in,” John explained.
“Hey, aren’t you the naked guy in Justin’s paintings?” Ethan asked as he got into John’s face. “Where’s your expensive suit?” he snarked.
John palmed his face and shook his head. “No, I’m not the naked guy, he’s my brother,” he deadpanned.
“So that makes you the architect. I thought architects wear fancy suits too.”
“Yes, I’m the architect but I’m also a builder.” John raised his hands palms up to show off the calluses he’d earned.
Fortunately, Hunter arrived just in time to take his kids back to the center.
“Blondie, you done with my kids?” Hunter called out from the door. “Hey, John, how goes the building?” Hunter asked in rapid succession.
Hunter received a “yes” and a “good,” at the same time which cracked him up.
“Time to go,” Hunter said as he cocked his head. “These guys have a long drive back home. Later!”
The silence was deafening after the whirlwind known as Hunter left with his kids.
“So that was Ethan,” John stated.
“Yes, in all his snarky glory.”
“No wonder Brian’s been a little…”
“I was going to say antsy but bitchy works. That kid knows how to push buttons,” John said with a yawn. “Excuse me. I guess I’m more tired than I thought.”
“That’s because just like your brother, you think you’re Superman.”
“Don’t you mean Rage?”
“Him too. Come on, hand over the keys, I’ll drive,” Justin demanded as he held out his hand, wiggling his fingers.
“Don’t say it,” Justin warned.
“Wouldn’t dream of it,” John teased. “May I suggest a detour to the diner for some coffee and lemon bars to bring home?”
“Great idea,” Justin said with a sunny smile.
All packed up and ready to go, John and Justin headed out for home.
Return to Kinney Bros. Inc.