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Rated: E · Fiction · Contest Entry · #2258257
A step up.


Jeremy climbed out of his pickup and paused to look at the truck's door. Having "Cahill Construction" painted on it had cost more than he could afford. But he was his own boss now. "Gotta have confidence," he said aloud to himself.

He approached the house, appraising the front porch. It was crooked, disintegrating. Dangerous.

A young man came around from the side of the house. Extending his hand, he said, "Hello. I'm Lorenzo. Thanks for coming." Jeremy shook Lorenzo's hand, gestured toward the porch, and said, "Looks like you called me just in time."

"Yeah," said Lorenzo. "This is my mom's house. She'll be out in a second." On cue, an elderly woman appeared from around the side of the house. In Spanish, Lorenzo introduced them. About the only thing Jeremy picked up was the woman's name, Esperanza.

With Lorenzo translating, they discussed the job. "Has to be simple," said Lorenzo. "We've got only $75, so maybe just a couple of steps."

Jeremy stared at Lorenzo. "Okay," he said.

Jeremy took off for the lumber yard. As he was returning, Lorenzo was helping his mother into his car. "Me voy al doctor," she said to Jeremy. He picked up the word "doctor" and nodded.

Two hours later, Lorenzo and his mother returned and stood in stupefied silence at their new porch: wide, sturdy, multiple steps, with railings on both sides. The wood alone had cost Jeremy $350. "But we told you $75," Lorenzo protested.

"Here's the bill," Jeremy said. He handed a folded piece of paper to Esperanza, who launched a torrent of Spanish at Jeremy in return.

Smiling, Jeremy turned toward his truck and said, "Sorry. I don't understand a word you are saying."

Esperanza opened the folded paper and stared at the number on it: $75.

(Word count: 299.)

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