Brenda Stanley's phone rang, jerking her out of a sound sleep. She stumbled out of bed. Had to be something terrible. It was still dark. "Whaa," she mumbled, trying to come fully awake, her voice still hoarse from sleep.
"Hey, sis. You need to get up to camp. The roof's leaking."
"There's a leak in the roof." Buddy separated each word with a pause. "Look, I gotta go. Just take a look, check it out, huh."
"You go. You're a guy. Better at that kind of thing." She was talking to dead air. He'd hung up.
Brenda had inherited her parents' original camp. Buddy had helped her out after Johnny left four years ago. That had been a tough time. Her job had kept her busy. Her brother and kids had been supportive. But she'd wrapped her heart in a deep swath of bandages, not sure it would ever heal from Johnny's betrayal.
She loved the camp her father had built, especially because her ex had almost never come here. It was located in Campfire Circle, a cul-de-sac at the end of a dirt road. Five other families had bought the sixty acres together, divided the property and built camps about the same time. As their children grew up and land was divided, several other camps had been added. The same way Buddy had built one for his family.
She took a quick shower, dressed, threw a change of clothes into a duffle bag and scrounged some food. After heading out, she grabbed a large coffee to go at the local coffee shop, hoping to finish waking up.
About an hour later, she arrived at camp. Dad had named the cottage Morning Glory because Mom always planted a forest of morning glories that climbed over the front of the camp. Glowing red from the sunrise, it was living up to its name. Brenda unlocked the front door. A big sign propped against the blue plastic bin used to deposit muddy shoes just inside the door had April Fool emblazoned in red letters with blue dripping raindrops.
She spun around. "I'm going to kill you, Buddy," she screamed as loud as she could for her brother's benefit in case he was watching from some hidden spot. When there was no reply, she stormed inside, slammed the door and stamped around the living room.
After yelling a few more words that weren't fit for anyone else's ears, she unloaded the car. Inside, she removed the dust sheets covering the furniture, then opened a couple of windows to let the fresh spring air drive out the lingering scent of moth balls that kept the mice at bay.
She rolled her shoulders to release her lingering tension. Better put away the food. Now that she was here, she might as well start on some yard work and enjoy the beautiful, early spring day.
* * *
Early Saturday morning, David Johnson headed out to camp. He needed to do a temporary fix on the roof. He'd noticed a leak the last time he was there and didn't want any more damage. Good thing there wasn't a steep pitch. He should be able to get it covered by the end of the day.
He stopped at the hardware store in North Windham and bought a roof-sized tarp and nails. The roofer was scheduled to do a full repair, but that wouldn't happen for another month.
Arriving at Campfire Circle, he took the long way around the cul-de-sac to see who was here. He saw Brenda's parked car, then spotted her, rake in hand in the side yard. He honked as he drove by and she waved. Nice. Someone to visit with after a tricky job. Maybe they could even share dinner ... and a glass of wine.
He glanced in the rear view mirror as Brenda bent to scoop decomposed leaves into a barrel. She had a fine figure. Always seemed to stay active. Funny he'd never noticed before. Except running his business and the travel involved kept him busy.
Right after Ellie had passed away and the casserole brigade had descended on him, he couldn't imagine ever dating again. But that was three years ago. His throat tightened. The deep pain had healed, replaced by loneliness.
Enough. He needed to stop standing around and get to work.
He raised the rear door of his SUV and unloaded the car. After dragging the ladder out of the carport and propping it against the camp, he manhandled the tarp on to the roof and started to spread it out.
"You're ambitious this morning." Her clear voice brighted the day.
He turned and looked down. Brenda, hands on hips looked up at him, grinning. He couldn't help but smile back. "Not by choice."
"What's up? Other than you standing on your roof."
"Ha. Ha." He waved at the bright blue tarp. "Need to get the roof covered-"
"I don't want to hear anything about a leak. My brother woke me up at the crack of dawn with an April fool's call informing me I had a leaky roof."
"Buddy's caught me a couple of times, too."
"He lives for April first."
David shrugged. "Maybe he misdialed and thought he was calling me."
"I seriously doubt it. He's always been able to torture me on this day."
"You're probably right. I'd know it wasn't a joke." He pointed at the tarp. "There really is a leak. I'll bet he knew my roof was iffy, and that gave him the idea."
"So--it's all your fault."
David raised his hands, palms out. "I'm not going to take all the blame."
"Okay, I'll let you off the hook."
He tilted his head. "Maybe that's the solution to the great Buddy mystery."
"You may be right. That might be the answer to how he figures this stuff out. Enough about my fool-ish brother." She grinned. "Sorry about the pun. Anyway, when you want to take a break, stop by. I'll put some fresh coffee on."
"I'd like that." A drop of rain splattered on his head. "Better get a hustle on. April showers are on the way."