Dade Morgan is a skilled carpenter, who takes old pieces of furniture, and other items, refurbishing, or upcycling them. He has the need of a blacksmith, and is a little surprised with what he finds when he arrives at the forge.
Sparks flew. The ring of hammer on anvil landed to the beat of the music blaring from the speakers. The musical choice wasn’t exactly what he was expecting, though he couldn’t have said what he thought a blacksmith would listen to. However, he found John Mayer’s Gravity surprising—made more so, because the smith was singing to it. Near the big finish, voice soaring to the high note, the hammer became the microphone. The song came to an end, and the hammer was silent long enough for him to speak.
With a screech of alarm, the smith jumped around, hammer lifted to strike him. With a gasp, the tool-cum-weapon lowered and the laughter began.
“You startled me. I thought I was having my musical moment alone. Can I help you?”
“Yes. Dade Morgan,” he said, holding out his hand. He gazed into the darkest brown eyes he’d ever seen.
The young woman smiled, white teeth flashing in the soot covered face. “Lumina Hudson, though I expect you know that, since you’re here.” Wiping her hand on the seat of her jeans, she took his in a firm, calloused grip.
“Lovely to meet you, Miss Hudson.”
“You called about a table?”
“Yes. I find objects and rejuvenate, repair and up-cycle them.”
“Oh, I’ve seen people like you on TV. I love those shows.”
“I do that, on a much smaller scale. I have a fairly healthy You Tube presence. Small but steady audience, so far. I hope to change that, soon. For now, it’s me and my imagination.”
She flashed another grin, her dark eyes sparkling. “Imagination is largely underappreciated.” She gestured around her, showing off items in her fenced yard. “All fruits of my imagination. Some were commissioned, others done on spec.”
He looked more carefully at the sculptures, photos and wall hangings. “Beautiful. Who knew that metal could be shaped so delicately. May I?” He gestured to a sculpture on a nearby table. It looked like a tiny bonsai tree, but it was made out of some sort of metal.
“Sure. You can’t break it.”
He snatched his hand back. “Oh, don’t tell me that! I’ve been known to break the unbreakable.”
“Perhaps just look, then,” she teased. “I made that out of old flatware. Forks, mostly. The trunk is made from knives.”
“It’s beautiful. Forks? Really?” He squatted to better view the delicate leaves. “Ficus?” he tilted his chin, raising a questioning eyebrow.
“Good eye. Bodhi tree or Ficus Religiosa, to be precise. You do bonsai?”
“I failed at it. One of the unbreakable objects? Yeah….. My first bonsai. And the dish. And the table it sat on.”
“Oh, you’re good. Most people aren’t that thorough.”
“In my defense….” He paused, dropping his head.
“You were drunk?”
“Yeah….” Clearing his throat, he stood abruptly. “Might have had a little—help—on the table.”
“Female help?” She tilted her head, trying to catch his eye.
“Yeah. Never mind.” He rubbed his nose. “For this table, I wanted wrought iron legs.”
Giggling, Lumina covered her mouth. “Back to business then, Mr. Morgan. Harder to break wrought iron.”
“Exactly. Also, I found the most amazing piece of oak. It’s from the old Merriweather Hotel downtown.”
“Wasn’t that a saloon, or something?”
“Saloon, brothel, hotel. During Prohibition, it was a speakeasy. Upstairs, respectable hotel. In the basement, a somewhat disreputable blind pig. I got the bar.”
“No kidding! Aren’t they tearing it down?”
“Sadly, yes. It’s been empty for decades, but was slated to be refurbished by Yarrow Enterprises. Unfortunately, the inspection discovered that the foundation is too damaged to handle an upgraded structure. In fact, it’s too expensive, even to try.”
“You’d think that Yarrow would have enough money to throw at the project,” she scoffed.
“If he’s willing to abandon it, it must be bad. However, they are doing a salvage and haul sale. You can pay a couple hundred dollars for the day, and haul away whatever you can carry. I’ve done it all week, and have some amazing pieces.”
“Are you done?”
“For today. It will still be going on for a few more weeks. I’m running out of space. I had to hire a POD to store things. The stuff I take, it’s unlikely anyone else wants. Most folks are going for the copper pipe and wire. I’m taking the bar and old toilets.”
She burst out laughing. “You’re kidding!”
He put his hand on his chest. “Hand to God, I’m telling the truth. Decorators love them. It doesn’t take much to get them refitted with the proper plumbing, and they sell for a bunch. If the tank or bowl is damaged, I can make them into fancy planters. Look.” He held up his phone and accessed the gallery. The image he showed her was of an elevated tank toilet in a sunny yard. The top was full of ferns, the bowl was full of a plant she didn’t recognize right away.
“Oh, my god, is that—pot?”
His laugh was loud and carefree. “Pot in the pot. The male variety. It was a commission piece.”
“I love this! Show me the oak?”
He led her to his pickup truck, parked in the lot outside her fence. Excitedly, he lowered the tailgate. Reaching in, he carefully pulled out a canvas wrapped bundle. Tossing the flaps back, he revealed a golden brown piece of wood. Nearly three inches thick, it curved in a graceful arc. Rounded lips ran down each side. Asking permission with a glance, she caressed the old, smooth surface.
“This is magnificent!” she sighed. “Did you get more?”
“Yes. I got the entire thing. But I thought this would make the most interesting table. I’m going to copy the lip, putting it around the ends. I got more of the same wood, but the sections were too damaged to use as they are. I can salvage what I need.”
“And keep it all period! That’s so cool!” She smoothed the surface again. “Are you thinking traditional legs?”
“Yes. I don’t want to take away from the beauty of the wood. I thought either the typical curls, or maybe spiral?” He shrugged, deferring to her.
“Spirals, I think. Curve at the bottom, or straight?”
“Which do you think?”
Lumina leaned over, looking at the bottom and sides. “Straight. No. A slight curl at the end, just enough for the leg to rest on.” Nodding, she straightened. “Let’s make a template….”
“I’m way ahead of you. I made one before I came over.”
“That’s so thoughtful!”
He grinned. “Anything to make your job easier. Also, I can use it for something else later, so it’s not wasted.
“Thank you. When I have the legs crafted, do you want me to drill the holes, so you can use it for this piece? You don’t want to mess it up.”
“Excellent idea. Thanks. Got an idea on budget?”
“Let’s have a look, and I’ll draw up an estimate. Probably going to be about two hundred.”
“I can live with that. I set a budget of three.”
“It will be under three, might be slightly over two.”
“I should be able to sell it for at least three fifty, maybe four.”
“No kidding! Where?”
“I’ve got a guy,” he chuckled.
© 2019 Dellani Oakes