Wednesday, June 19, 2013

Topping Paints the Peugeot - Story

This story is about the attraction men have to working hard, of pouring themselves into their work. Topping finally gets a chance to paint Bartholomew's car, a 1974 Peugeot. This story does not reveal the final product. It is about the process, the relationship Topping has with the car while he is painting it. Charlotte doesn't understand Topping's obsession with the car and feels left out. It is always a balance to do the activities you want to do in this world and spend time with your partner. It is especially difficult when your partner doesn't understand what you are doing and why. Here is an excerpt from Topping Paints the Peugeot which will be published at The Book of Bartholomew on Friday, June 21, 2013:

He came home well after midnight, had some leftovers from the refrigerator and headed to bed. Charlotte did not wake. Topping's sleep was fitful as images of the design waged war in his head. He was up for good before the alarm went off. He got out of bed, had a quick breakfast and headed back to the shop.

Topping arrived just as Uncle Cy was turning on the lights. Uncle Cy spent some time looking over Topping’s paint job. He nodded his head in approval. This gave Topping a little extra spring in his step for the rest of the morning. He went to a table at the back of the shop, grabbed some masking paper, pulled off part of the backing and headed to the hood of the Peugeot. He carefully secured the first sheet onto the car. There could be no wrinkles. His hands could feel the sheet adhere to the surface below it, inch by inch, centimeter by centimeter. Not a wrinkle. If he sensed a possible wrinkle starting, he would pull the paper back slightly, caress it to the surface and seduce it into place. The paper had no chance to object, it wouldn't dare. This dance went on for a long time. Upon loving the last sheet into place, Topping stepped back and realized he was sweating, exhausted and hungry. He could now leave the Peugeot in this state until the next step: drawing the design right onto the car.

He went home for lunch and to take a nap. He woke up about the time Charlotte got home from work.

“Where were you last night?” Charlotte asked, obviously a little mad.

“I was at the shop, working on the Peug..., on Bartholomew's car.”

“It would have been nice to get a call or something.”

“I'm sorry, I was just into it and didn't notice the time passing,” apologized Topping.

“I don't like it when the only clue I had that you were even here last night was your cereal bowl in the sink,” said Charlotte as she hung up her coat.

“I'm sorry, I just had the car on my mind and I wanted to get right back at it this morning,” Topping said as he moved to the kitchen to get something to eat.

“Are you making supper?”

Topping, not having even thought about what he was doing, stammered,, “Uh...uh...”

“Oh never mind,” Charlotte groaned.

Topping pulled out some leftovers, enough for him and Charlotte, and threw them in the microwave. He grabbed a couple of glasses, some leftover salad and placed it all on the table. The microwave beeped. “I have some food ready, if you want,” yelled Topping back to Charlotte who had retreated to the bedroom. No response.

Topping sat down at the card table and started to eat. He was almost done when Charlotte arrived. She sat down roughly in her folding chair and then picked at the now-cold food. They ate in silence. Topping finished his food, took his plate and bowl to the dishwasher and then served himself some ice cream. “Want some?” he asked. No response. Topping sighed.

After they were done eating, Charlotte asked, “Are you going back tonight?”

“I was thinking of it,” he said. No response.

“Look, I'm really worried about this job. It's the biggest one I've ever done and I'm changing the design on the fly...”

“You're changing the design?! You spent two months working on that design! And now you're changing it? Does Bartholomew even know? Never mind Bartholomew, you spent how many nights working on that design instead of hanging out with me, and now you're changing it? Boy, that makes me feel good!”

“No,...I...Agghhh!” said Topping. “I'm just trying to do a good job! It could lead to more work. I want Bartholomew to be happy....”

“Fine, make Bartholomew happy. In the meantime you're making me unhappy.” Charlotte stood up and went to the bedroom.

Topping put on his shoes and got ready to go to the shop. But then he thought maybe he should stay home and do something with Charlotte. He certainly didn't feel like doing that now. Topping sat perplexed. In the end, he knew he wanted to be working on the car, so he left and went to the shop. He was hoping Uncle Cy would still be there so he could talk with him about Charlotte, but he was already gone.

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