Like the Paper on the Wall

For a recent assignment at the Golden Pen Writers Guild, I decided on something I’ve wanted to do for a very long time: write an homage to my favorite author P.G. Wodehouse in something like his style. While there’s absolutely no way I could ever even approach the work of the master, I had a lot of fun writing it and am generally quite satisfied and proud of the results.

We were asked to write down the first thing that popped into our heads for occupation, place and object—I selected Paperhanger, Pebble Beach and golf club for my three writing prompts. After almost an entire week of struggling to figure out what to write, I had a flash of inspiration—literally at 2:30 AM one morning—which provided the seed for this story. I hope that those of you familiar with Plum’s writing will enjoy this and detect a little bit of his “feel”.

*     *     *

It was a beautiful late spring morning. The birds were singing, the sun was shining, the breeze coming off the nearby beach was bracing. Eddie Gorringe had opened the French doors and stood surveying the lush garden surrounding the home of his current client, Mrs. Payne-Edwards, preparing to finish his wallpapering job. Paper hanging was not exactly Eddie’s idea of a career, but at least he could find ready work in the upscale environs of Pebble Beach, often with a generous bonus attached.

He spread paste on the next strip of wallpaper on the worktable, gently folded it over, and carried it to the wall. He gingerly mounted the short ladder, whistling a tune to himself as he imagined depositing the $250.00 bonus check.

Just then, a golfball came whizzing through the French doors hitting Eddie square in the small of the back, causing him to lurch forward into the stepladder then headfirst into the wall. Luckily his was a particularly hard head, so he merely bounced off, recoiling backwards into the room. Trying to steady himself, he thrust his left leg behind him and, completing the trifecta of destruction, stepped right into the paste bucket.

Instantly he was skidding across the tile floor and it was only thanks to his good sense and flailing arms that he managed to catch himself on the counter. It was then that he heard a voice somewhere outside screaming “FORE!”

He lowered himself slowly to the floor, breathing heavily and wondering what kind of idiot gives warning after the fact? Whoever it was, he’d be giving him an earful. A few moments later when the room had finally stopped spinning, he heard a sharp gasp coming from behind him in the neighborhood of the yard.

Eddie turned to see a girl in an attractive pink golfing ensemble standing on the threshold with one hand over her mouth, the other clutching a golf club. Her long, blonde hair was pulled back in a ponytail and her blue eyes, wide with shock, peered out from under her white sun visor. She began apologizing profusely.

“Oh my gosh, I can’t believe this happened! Are you alright?” she blurted.

“Well, I’ve been better,” Eddie replied. “I’m guessing I’ll likely walk again.”

“I was practicing my swing and just as I started my downstroke, a car backfired and startled me,” she continued. “It was the heftiest stroke I’ve made in a long time, but I hit it a little fat. Imagine it flying over here and through the open doors—I’m lucky I didn’t break any windows or anything.”

This wanton disregard for his current state—lying on the floor, half covered in paste—gave Eddie the pique.

“Yes, good thing no windows were broken or anything,” he quipped sarcastically. “There is, of course, the matter of me being nearly broken for you to consider. Just who are you and where did you come from anyway?”

The girl blushed even redder than before, which seemed curiously attractive to Eddie.

“Yes, I know and I am so sorry! I’m Juliette—Juliette Peters,” she announced sheepishly. “I’m staying with my aunt and uncle next door and wanted to brush up on my game here in golf’s mecca. Let me help you up,” she said, stretching out a dainty hand.

Seeing this gesture, the attractive blushing cheeks and expression of genuine concern on the fair Juliette’s face took the wind out of Eddie’s sails a bit. Anything approaching anger or vengefulness died away as well.

“Well, never mind—I guess I’ll be alright.” He sat up, attempting to look as manly and unconcerned as possible under the circumstances, and surveyed the wreckage. “I’m not sure there’s anything more you can do. I can probably kiss my bonus goodbye.”

“I can’t apologize enough,” Juliette said sweetly. “Really, if there’s anything I can do, just name it. Maybe you’ll come next door and I can fix you some lunch?”

This unexpected invitation seemed to be just the thing. Forget that a careless, yet beautiful girl—apparently with an incredible, though unpredictable golf swing—had laid him flat and wrecked his chances for some extra cash; a spot of lunch would be perfect.

“Well,” he began, “that sounds pretty good but I think I’d better salvage what I can here first. I don’t suppose you’ve ever hung wallpaper?”

He gestured toward the wall in time to see his masterful papering job begin peeling away near the ceiling. If the huge mess and minor injuries were not already enough, the fact that his work was about to crash down around him seemed too much to bear.

But just when it seemed all was lost, Juliette hopped over the rubble, thrusting her club towards the ceiling like a knight errant wielding his broadsword, and pressed the sagging paper back into place.

“Well, this is the least I can do to make amends. But don’t just sit there staring, give me a hand!” she shouted.

Eddie’s heart skipped a beat. No matter her shortcomings in the way of golf swings, any girl so handy with a 5-wood was his idea of a helpmeet.

 

© 2014 Douglas P. Kendrick, all rights reserved.

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