Timber to Impress

Timber to Impress

‘What exactly am I supposed to do with all of this?’ my father-in-law asked me as we stood on the edge of his driveway, looking over the large pile of wood I’d just dropped from the back of my sedan.

‘I thought we could, uh… build something together?’ I offered meekly.

‘Build something?’ he repeated slowly. ‘Build what?’

‘Uh…’ I searched my blank mind frantically. ‘Something… wooden?’

‘Charlie,’ he sighed, taking off the cap and rubbing his forehead with the heel of his hand. ‘Did my daughter put you up to this?’

‘What?’ I laughed, too hard. ‘Of course not! I just thought it might be fun for us to do something together, maybe… uh… bond a little?’

‘Bond,’ he said, nodding up and down. ‘Right. Gotcha.’

He turned back towards the house, frowning as one of the blinds twitched suspiciously.

‘Sarah!’ he called out loudly. ‘I know you’re watching. Come out here.’

After a moment, the door swung sheepishly open, and my wife appeared.

‘How’s it going, Dad?’ she asked cheerfully.

‘Fantastic,’ he said dryly. ‘Your husband brought me all of these timber supplies. Buy near Cheltenham?’ he asked, pointing the question at me.

‘Uh…’ I froze again, my gaze involuntarily flicking to Sarah.

‘Don’t look at her,’ he said, smiling like a shark. Just tell me where you bought the timber.’

‘Uh…’ I repeated, mildly terrified. ‘You’re right.’

‘I was?’

‘Yep,’ I nodded. ‘Cheltenham.’

‘You went all the way to Cheltenham?’ he asked, with an exaggerated frown.

‘Sure did,’ I said, still nodding. Doubling down felt like the safest strategy.

‘Interesting,’ her dad said, scratching under his chin. ‘What was the name of this place? The best hardware shop in Cheltenham for timber supplies? I may have to go there myself.’

‘Oh?’ I asked, voice pitching up an octave. ‘You know – I don’t remember!’

‘That’s weird,’ he shook his head. ‘Was it O’Malley’s? Smith’s?’

‘Smith’s!’ I nodded enthusiastically, then slowed as I noticed his face. ‘You made them up, didn’t you?’

‘Sure did, champ,’ he smiled. ‘Excuse me, while I talk to my daughter.’