By:  Kenda






     Someone, some very rude someone, was pounding a jackhammer on the inside of Rick Simon's skull.  The lanky detective came to awareness slowly, groaning as he rolled over on the couch.


     Couch?  Why am I sleepin' on the couch?


     Rick cautiously opened one blood shot eye.  He squinted against the assault of bright sunlight streaming in the room through the windows. 


     When his pounding head finally allowed Rick to open his other eye, his alcohol-laden brain took in his surroundings.


     A.J.'s house?  What am I doin' at A.J.'s...oh yeah, the party.


     Despite the pain in his head, and the taste of shoe leather that filled his mouth, Rick grinned in fond remembrance of the wild bash from the previous evening.


     That was one of the best parties I've thrown in a long time.  I'll have to plan another one the next time A.J.'s gonna be gone for a few days.


     Although remaining just as he was on the sofa sounded more appealing then anything else right at the moment, Rick forced himself to lift his left arm from his side.  He brought his wrist close to his face, squinting at his watch.  The numbers blurred in front of Rick.  The detective closed his left eye, trying to focus on the time with his right.


     " could be ten o'clock, or it could be noon.  I can't really tell for sure.  Whatever, I guess I'd better get this place cleaned up before A.J. gets home or he's gonna--"


     "Kill you, Rick?” came a voice from the kitchen.  “Is that what A.J.'s going to do?" 


     The startled Rick jumped. "Ah!"   That ah quickly turned to a pain filled, "Ooooh, my head," as Rick rocked on the edge of the sofa, head in his hands.


     The owner of the voice in the kitchen advanced on the hung-over Rick.  "Or maybe A.J. will hang you up on the deck and flog you to within an inch of your life for all the neighbors to see!  Or maybe he'll--"


     "Take a gun and put me out of my misery," Rick volunteered with a moan.


     "I wouldn't go that far.  The only retribution A.J.'s getting out of this entire affair is the fact that you’re in pain!"  A.J. finished at the top of his lungs in Rick's ear.


     Rick fell back against the couch, aching head still cradled in his hands.  "A.J., don't please," Rick beseeched.  "Don't yell."


     "Don't yell!  Are you nuts?  Damn it, Rick!  I take a four day vacation with my girlfriend and look what I come back to!  Why the hell did you do this?  You've got your own place now!  Why did you have to trash mine?"


     Rick carefully opened one eye, peering around the downstairs of the house.   Half-empty trays and bowls of food were scattered everywhere, from counter tops to coffee tables.  Empty beer cans, soda cans, and liquor bottles added to the mess.  Dirty dishes filled the sink and overflowed onto the dining room and kitchen tables.  Dried food was stuck to the tables, and in several places ground into the beige carpeting A.J. had purchased just six months earlier. 


     Yep, it's as bad as I remember it bein' right before I passed out. I sure hope A.J. doesn't notice that stain on the ceiling where Carlos let that beer can explode.


     "And look at the ceiling!  I just painted the ceiling last year!"


     Oh, no.  I'm dead meat.


     "For God's sake, Rick, you're forty-eight years old!  Aren't you getting a little old for this kind of crap!  And why in my house?  Why does it always have to be my house?"


     "I'm really sor--"


     "Sorry.  I know,” A.J. stomped away. “I've heard it before."


     Rick groaned as he pushed himself off the couch. On shaky legs he followed his brother to the kitchen.  He made it as far as one of the kitchen bar stools.  He sank down, throwing his upper body across the counter top, pleading his case.


     "A.J., I am.  I am sorry," Rick apologized to his brother's stiff back.  "See, it's like this.  I was planning a little party, just a real little tiny party with only a few close friends, when someone leaked the word out.  You know how famous I am for my parties and--"


     "Yes, I'm well aware of that," came the terse reply.


     "And it's been a while since I've had one.  Three, maybe even four years ago."


     "Two years, four months, and ten days ago to be exact," A.J. corrected.  "That's the last time I came home to a trashed house."  The angry blond spun around, waving a finger under his sibling's nose.  "And I told you then, that never, never again were you to have a party in my house.  But did you listen to me?  As usual, no.  As usual you just ignored everything I said and--"


     "A.J., it wasn't like that at all."


     "Oh, really?  Then tell me, Rick, just what was it like?"


     The pounding in Rick's head was increasing in intensity with each passing moment.  "Do you have any aspirin?"


     "Suffer," was all the sympathy Rick received from his brother.


     Rick massaged his temples with a groan.  "I had planned a party for last night at my place.  I invited just enough people to fit on the boat comfortably.  The only problem is, the word got out on the street that I was having a big bash.  Before I knew it, I had more people in my living room than the boat could hold.  It was listing sideways.  Just when I was trying to figure out how I was gonna graciously get rid of some of the people, Bruno suggested we come over here.  I tried to stop them, A.J.  I really did.  But as soon as Bruno said,  "A.J.'s on vacation.  Let's go to his place," there was a mad dash for the door.  Everyone likes your place."


     "Oh, wonderful.  My home will be featured in the next issue of Motorcycle Monthly as the best place for a party for all of Rick Simon's seedy friends!"


     "Hey!  My friends aren't seedy!"  Rick yelled back, immediately regretting that action on his part.   "Oh ouch, my head."


      When the pain had subsided enough that Rick could speak again he said, "Look, I'll clean this place up.  I promise I'll have it spic and span in no time."


     "Oh, you bet you'll clean it up.  As for having it spic and span in no time, in the condition you're in I'll be lucky if it's clean by next week.  Unfortunately for you, my patience will run out long before then.  I dropped Diana off at her house an hour ago so she could unpack and shower.  I'm leaving to pick her up right now.  We're going to spend the day at the beach.   I'll be back sometime this evening.  This house had better be clean when I walk in the door tonight, Rick."


     "It will be," Rick promised. 


     A.J. stood surveying the mess before him one more time, shook his head in disgust, then marched out.


     "Please don't slam the..."


      A resounding thud and rattle of glass prompted Rick to lay his head down on the counter top and end his sentence with a groan, "Door.  Ooooh."



S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S



     It was eight o'clock that night when A.J. returned home.  He squeezed the Camaro past Rick's truck, and past the green Chevy Bonneville that now sat in his driveway.


     The blond man entered his home through the kitchen door.  He was surprised, but very pleased, to walk into a spotlessly clean room.  Even more spotlessly clean than he himself kept it.  Someone had even taken the curtains down and washed them.  They had been freshly starched and pressed.


     I can't believe Rick did all this, A.J. thought as he proceeded into other rooms of equal cleanliness.


     A.J. soon had his answer as to who was responsible for the immaculate state of his home.  Rick's buxom brunette girlfriend was in the living room, wrapping the electrical cord around a rented carpet cleaner.


     The woman looked up from her task, catching sight of the blond.


     She approached him, arms outstretched.  "A.J., welcome back.  How was your vacation?  Did you and Di have a good time?"


     A.J. hugged the voluptuous woman to himself for a moment.   "We had a great time, Nancy.  Thanks for asking.  Well, at least it was great until I came home."


     Nancy bustled back to her cleaning utensils.  "I know.  I know.  I told Rick it was a bad idea when the party was moved here last night.  I told him things would get out of hand.  How that crowd can drink!  Of course, you know your older brother.  He just told me not to worry, that nothing would go wrong."


     "I've heard that line before," A.J. agreed.  "More times

than I care to count."


     "When he passed out on the couch, I just left him here and went on home.  I told him I'd come over today and help him clean this place up, but I doubt he was sober enough to remember that.  When I came in this afternoon I found him attempting to do the dishes...from a kneeling position.  He was so sick he couldn't stand up."


     "Good for him," the unsympathetic A.J. said.  "I imagine he was sick.  I haven't seen him hung-over like that in years.  He must have really done some heavy drinking last night."


     "He did.  In the two years I've been going out with him I've never seen Rick drink like that.  Some of those friends of his are a bit out of control."  


     "Take it from someone whose house they've trashed five times over the past ten years, I know.”  A.J. glanced up the stairs.  “Speaking of my hung-over brother, where is he?  I hope you haven't done all the work here today."


     "Absolutely not.  I wasn't that easy on him.  He's out back emptying the dirty water out of the container that was attached to this carpet cleaner.   We have to return it to the store by nine.  We were just getting ready to leave.  You inspect the house before we go.  If anything's out of place, or not as clean as you want it, I won't let Rick leave until he makes it right by you."


     A.J. gave the woman a fond smile.   He had never quite figured out how Nancy had become attracted to Rick, or him to her.  In many ways, they were complete opposites.  Though A.J. supposed the forty-five-year-old woman was just eccentric enough to appeal to Rick.  Her hobby was belly dancing, and she kept a large collection of Iguanas and other unique reptiles in her home.   On the other hand, she was certainly the first girlfriend Rick had ever had who was concerned about the condition of A.J.'s house after one of Rick's wild parties.  The bottom line was that Rick cared deeply for Nancy, of that fact A.J. had no doubt.  And A.J. himself felt a lot of affection for the woman whom he often deemed as, "Good for Rick." 


     The blond man did as Nancy had instructed.   He was quite pleased with the clean state his house was in.  He felt his blood pressure begin to rise, though, when he discovered two expensive bottles of wine missing, and discovered a broken latch on one of the cabinet doors.


     Nancy read the expression on A.J.'s face and quickly diffused the situation by promising, "Rick's going to replace those bottles of wine that are gone, and he'll be over to put a new latch on that cabinet door just as soon as we find one that matches the others.  I'm making him go to the hardware store one night this week."


     "For what?"  Rick asked as he came back into the room through the French doors.  He bent down to reconnect the water receptacle to the carpet cleaner.


     "To get a latch for A.J.'s kitchen cabinet."


     "Oh...oh yeah.  Uh...hi," Rick greeted his sibling cautiously.


     A.J. leaned back against the sink, crossing his arms in front of his chest while replying tersely,   "Hi."  He loved it when Rick was humbled.  Usually he got several favors out of a situation like this.


     "There's a latch broken on one of the vanity doors in the guest bathroom upstairs, too," A.J. commented casually.


     "No one was upstairs last night," Rick said.


     "Are you sure?"  A.J. questioned, pretending to be mad.


     "Yeah, I'm sure...but I'll go look at it and get a replacement for it anyway as long as I gotta fix this one down here."


     A.J. smiled to himself.  Yep, I sure love it when he's humble. Now let's see, what else needs fixing?


     "And you're going to replace those bottles of wine for A.J. too," Nancy reminded.


     Rick sighed.  "Yeah, I'm gonna do that, too."  He looked down at his lady, saying in a teasing tone of long suffering, "You know, before you came along and made me walk the straight and narrow path, I could trash his house and not have to go through nearly this much to make it right with him again."


      Nancy laughed, reaching out to squeeze Rick's skinny middle.  "It's a good thing for A.J. then, that I came along."


     "Amen to that," A.J. resounded.


      Nancy and Rick moved toward the kitchen door saying their good nights, Rick carrying the carpet cleaner. 


     A.J. noticed his cookie jar was out of place as the threesome stood in the kitchen saying goodbye.  He picked it up to put it where it belonged. 


     "Hey, what's this?" the blond questioned.  He bent down, looking closely at the wall behind the sink.  "The wallpaper's torn here.  As a matter of fact, it's not torn, it's shredded!"


     A.J. straightened, fastening a steely gaze upon his brother.  "Rick, did you know about this?"




     "Rick, did you try and hide those tears with the cookie jar?"  Nancy scolded.


     "Come on, you two, give me a break.  I'm tired, I don't feel good, it's been a long day, and I just wanna go home."


     Nancy placed her hands on her full hips.  "Rick Simon...did you?"


     Rick rolled his eyes.  "All right, all right.  Yes, I did.  I admit it.   I put the cookie jar in front of the wallpaper in order to hide the tears.  But I was gonna tell him about it.   Only...not tonight."


     "When?" the angry A.J. asked.


     "Uh...soon," was all Rick would admit.


     "Rick--" A.J. began at the top of his lungs.


     "Look, A.J., I'll take care of it.  I promise I will.  You go and pick out new wallpaper--"


     "That you'll pay for," A.J. interrupted.


     "That I'll pay for.  Go pick out new paper and me and Carlos will put it up for you."


     "Have you and Carlos ever put up wallpaper before?" the blond asked.


     "Don't worry about it.  We'll figure it out," the tired Rick dismissed.  "Just pick out whatever you want and let me know when you want it done."


     "You can do it the same weekend you repaint my ceiling," A.J. informed his brother.


     "Uh...yeah, right.  Whatever.  You just say the word and we'll be here."


     "How did it get torn like that anyway?" 


     "You don't wanna know."


     "Yes, I do," A.J. insisted.


     "Well, Raven and his girlfriend were over here by the sink doin'...well, I'll leave that part to your imagination.  Anyway, she was wearin' these five inch spiked heels and in her...excitement she kinda tore your wallpaper."


     "You're right.  I don't want to know," A.J. agreed as he bent and gave Nancy a kiss on the cheek and a, "Thank you."


     The couple walked to their respective vehicles.  Through the open windows A.J. could hear the playful scolding Rick was getting.


     "I told you moving the party to A.J.'s house was a bad idea.  Really, Rick, trying to cover up that tear in the wallpaper with the cookie jar--"


      When things grew suddenly quiet the blond peered out a window.  Through the darkness he could just barely make out the figures of Nancy and Rick, locked in an embrace full of passion.  Rick had his lips sealed over Nancy's, putting an effective end to her tirade. 


     A.J. couldn't help but chuckle at his brother and his beguiling ways. 


Somehow, Rick always manages to work his way out of all the trouble he's worked his way into to begin with. 


     A.J. heard his brother's truck engine roar to life, then Nancy's car start.  The tired blond man headed up to bed, pleasantly surprised to find that Nancy had made Rick give the upstairs a thorough cleaning as well.


     The detective's last thought before he drifted off to sleep was, Maybe some good things do come out of Rick's parties.  At least my house got a good spring cleaning.



S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S



     It was several weeks later before A.J. had a chance to pick out new wallpaper for his kitchen, and several weeks after that before Rick and Carlos had a chance to put it up for him. 


     A.J. and Dianna were driving up to Fresno for the weekend.   The reluctant blond had been convinced by Rick that this would be the perfect time for him and Carlos to put the paper up and paint the ceiling.  Only after A.J. got Nancy's assurances that there would be no party, did the blond man agree to Rick's plan.  He really had no desire to be in the house while his brother and Carlos went about their work, he knew he'd end up helping them if he was.  Yet turning Rick and Carlos loose on a project like this was not something A.J. was entirely comfortable with either.  Dianna finally convinced A.J. they should go away as planned by, saying, "After all, Rick and Carlos will be busy painting and papering all weekend, hon. How much trouble can the two of them possibly get into with that on the agenda?"


     "You don't know my brother very well if you have to ask that question," A.J. had replied.


      At ten on Saturday morning, Rick and Carlos entered a small wallpaper store just around the corner from the Simon and Simon office.


     The two men stood in line at the cash register, waiting their turn behind several customers. 


     "Can I help you?"  The attractive young sales lady inquired when Rick's turn finally came.


     "Yeah.  I'm here to pick up some wallpaper my brother ordered.  The last name's Simon.  A. J. Simon."


     The clerk retrieved a records book from a shelf below the cash register. 


     "Would that be Andrew Simon?"


     "Yeah, that's him,” Rick nodded. “The paper was supposed to be here yesterday."


     "Yes, it was.  But unfortunately, it's temporarily out of stock.  According to this sheet one of our clerks tried to call your brother's home yesterday afternoon at four o'clock.  She put a message on his answering machine."


     "Oh.  She must have just missed him then.  He left around three to go away for the weekend. "


     "I'm sorry for the inconvenience," the girl apologized.


     "I guess we might as well go, Ricky," Carlos said.


     Rick stopped his friend's progress toward the door.  "Hang on a sec, Carlos.  I really wanna get this done for A.J. this weekend.  I'm in enough hot water over this party business as it is."


     Rick turned back to the clerk.  "Do you have anything in stock that might be similar to what he ordered?"


     "I can look."


The young woman left the area long enough to retrieve a book of wallpaper samples.  She pulled out what Rick presumed was a copy of A.J.'s invoice, taking note of a series of numbers on it.  Soon she had matched those numbers up to a pattern in the book.


     She turned the pattern around so Rick could see it.


     "I'm sorry, but we don't have anything like this in stock.  The majority of what we carry in the store are closeout patterns.  This is a very new design.  And very expensive.  Your brother has good taste."


     Ever mindful of his wallet, Rick asked skeptically, "How expensive?"


     "Fifty dollars a double roll.  He ordered five rolls so that's two hundred and fifty dollars."


     "Two hundred and fifty dollars!"  Rick exclaimed.  "For wallpaper?"


     The girl nodded. 


     Rick chewed on his lower lip a moment, deep in thought. 


     "Uh...where are those closeout rolls you were tellin' me about?"  Rick asked the girl.


     "Ricky, I don't think--" Carlos began.


     "Don't worry about it," Rick quickly dismissed Carlos's protest with a wave of his hand. 


     The clerk pointed toward the back of the store.  "All along the back wall there.  They're all double rolls, and every roll is priced at seven dollars."


     Rick's eye's lit up.  "Seven dollars?  No kidding?" 


     "Yes, seven dollars.  The only stipulation is that any closeout pattern you buy is non-returnable."


     "Sounds reasonable," Rick agreed.  He smiled his thanks at the girl before moving out of the way so she could wait on the customers lining up behind him.


     "Come on, let's go have a look back there," Rick said to Carlos, leading the way to the rear of the store.


     "Rick, I don't know about this.  I think we'd just better wait until the paper A.J. ordered comes in.  I don't wanna be on the receiving end of your little brother’s temper again.  He already let me have it on the phone last week for the beer stains on the ceiling."


     "Ah, don't worry about A.J.  If he didn't blow off steam over some little thing at least once a week he wouldn't be the brother I know and...sometimes love.  Anyway, we're just gonna look.  I didn't say we were gonna buy.  Maybe we can find something similar to what A.J. ordered.   If we can get a pattern that's real close he'll never know the difference, and I'll have saved myself two hundred bucks.  Now, what did that paper look like she showed us?  It was white with blue shapes of some kind on it, wasn't it?   Diamonds, or triangles, or rectangles, or something like that?"


     Carlos shook his head.  "No, it was light brown I think.  Or maybe kind of a peachy color.   And I think it had little yellow butterflies on it with ivy around them, or some kinda green vine."    


     "Well, whatever, we'll find something like that.  Something blue, or brown, or peach, or something.  And I don't see what difference it makes what it has on it.  He's had the stuff up he's got on the walls now for seven years, and I sure the hell can't tell you what kind of pattern it has on it."


     Carlos thought a moment, agreeing with Rick's line of thinking.  "You're right.  I can't think of what it looks like either.  Nobody pays attention to that kind of stuff. "


     The two men came to a halt by a set of shelves stacked to the ceiling.  Square partitions divided those shelves into sections, and each partition was piled high with rolls of wallpaper.


     "Now remember, whatever we find there’s gotta be five rolls of it.  That's how much A.J. figured it was gonna take to do around the sink and on the walls over by the kitchen table."


     "Okay," Carlos nodded, already absorbed in his search for brown wallpaper with butterflies on it. 


     Picking up the first paper he saw in brown tones, Carlos held it up. "How about this, amigo?"


     "I don't think so.  A.J. grew out of teddy bears and rocking horses about forty years ago."


     "Oh...yeah, guess you're right."


     "Hey, how about this?"  Rick suggested, holding up a roll of blue paper depicting baseball diamonds and players outfitted in uniforms representing Major League teams.  "This is pretty cool.  And A.J. really likes baseball."


     Carlos nodded his agreement.   "That's not bad.  Set it aside.  When we get all done we'll pick what we think he'll like best."


     "Good idea," Rick said, before turning back to eagerly scan the shelves.


     A half an hour later the two men had gathered a pile of wallpaper rolls on the floor.  They quickly worked together to narrow their choices down to only three.  After much conferring back and forth, they finally reached total agreement on one pattern.  Carlos returned the other rolls to the shelves, while Rick gathered their choice in his arms, happily carrying the five rolls to the checkout counter.


     He laid his load in front of the register.  "I found something that I think my brother will like," he told the clerk.


     The girl skeptically fingered a roll.  "This?  Are you...sure this is what you want?"


      “Yep,” Rick smiled, nodding with great satisfaction."It's just what he needs. Something kind of neutral.  It'll go with anything, don't you think?   He's got beige carpeting in his living and family rooms, and the kitchen floor's kind of beige too.  I think this will blend right in."


     The young woman raised an eyebrow.  "Well...I guess it was made to blend in anywhere."


     "Yeah, I can sure attest to that.  So you can cancel that other order.  The one for two hundred and fifty bucks.  This will work just fine."


     Rick paid the clerk, thanked her for her help, collected Carlos, and whistled a carefree tune as he headed out the door.



   S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S     S&S



     A smiling, relaxed, and slightly sunburned A.J. Simon parked his Camaro in front of his home late Sunday afternoon.  Taking note of Rick's truck in the driveway, the blond man wondered how far his brother and Carlos had gotten on repairing the damage they had done weeks earlier.


     At that very moment, Rick and Carlos were relaxing on the couch in the den, feet propped up on the coffee table, each with a cold beer in hand.


     Rick raised his can, offering a toast to his old buddy. 


"Another job well done, amigo.  This place looks great.  You know, there's not much to this decorating stuff."


     The paint splattered Carlos agreed.   "Piece a' cake, Ricky.  We did a real fine job here if I do say so myself."


     Rick looked up at the clean white ceiling, then over at the kitchen with its freshly papered walls.  "Yeah, we sure did.  A.J.'s gonna be real pleased."


     As the kitchen door swung open, Rick said, "Speaking of A.J., here he is now.  Hey, little brother!  How was your tri--"      


     The blond man dropped his suitcase in the middle of the kitchen floor. He stood there in shock, arms askew, and with his mouth agape. 


     "!   My...what have you done to my kitchen?"


     "Whatta ya’ mean, what have I done to your kitchen?  Don't you like it?"


     A.J. stood in the kitchen, turning 'round and 'round in slow circles, taking in his new decor in dazed wonder. 


     " about it?”  Rick pressed.  “Do ya' like it?" 


     "Do I like it?  Of course I don't like it!"  A.J. shouted.  "It looks like the Army Corps. of Engineers decorated my kitchen!  It looks like my kitchen has been turned into a boot camp!  It looks like McArthur has returned!   It'd be just great if I was planning military maneuvers in my house in the near future, Rick, but I'm not!"


     Carlos rose from the sofa.  "I think I'd better be goin', amigo.  I'll talk to you sometime this--"


     A.J. stomped into the living room, pointing a warning finger at Carlos.  "Sit back down!  You're not going anywhere until I find out why you two did this, and what you did with my the wallpaper I ordered."


     As Rick opened his mouth to speak, A.J. interrupted, "No, no, don't tell me, let me guess.  Knowing you two you sold the wallpaper I ordered on the street for twice what I paid for it."


     Rick and Carlos looked at each other, exchanging smiles. 


     "You know, amigo, I never even thought of that.” Rick said to his old friend.  “Now there's an idea."  


     "Yeah," Carlos agreed.  "Maybe we can go back to that store, have them reorder A.J.'s paper, and then--"


     "What do you mean, have them reorder my paper?"  A.J. shouted.


     Knowing he'd have to face the inevitable sooner or later Rick confessed, "The paper you ordered was temporarily out of stock, so since Carlos and I promised you we'd do the work this weekend, we picked out this paper instead."


     "That was big of you."


     "So I...uh...take it you don't like it?"  Rick proceeded with caution.


     "Don't like it?  I hate it!  It'''s so awful that right at the moment I have no words with which to describe it!" 


     Rick stood up and walked into the kitchen, admiring his handy work.  "Aw, come on, A.J.  Give it some time.  After a while it'll kinda grow on you."


     "I wouldn't bet on that if I were you."


     Rick attempted to point out the redeeming quality of the paper's pattern.  "And besides, it goes with anything.  Even the girl down at the store said that, didn't she, Carlos?"


     From the living room Carlos agreed.  "Yeah, that's what she said, A.J."


     "Yes, it'll go with anything, if a person is decorating their home in early G.I. Joe,” A.J. sarcastically acknowledged.  


     "Look, A.J., it's not that bad," Rick tried to convince.  "And besides, I got it for a terrific price.  Seven dollars a roll."


     "I'm surprised it cost you anything.  It's so God-awful I'm surprised the store wasn't giving it away.  Whoever heard of camouflage wallpaper anyway?"


     "General Patton?"  Rick tried lamely.


     A.J. advanced on his brother until they were nose to nose. He backed his sibling up against the counter top. 


"On Monday I'm going to that store and reordering the wallpaper I originally wanted.  Then come next weekend you and Carlos are going to come over here and take this...this...this...crap off my walls and put up what I want.  And you're going to pay for it just like you were supposed to in the first place.  Am I getting through to you, Rick?"


     "Yeah, yeah, okay.  But if you'd just give this look a chance, I really think--"




     "Okay, okay," Rick agreed in order to put an end to the shouting.  "There's only one small problem though."


     A.J. sighed heavily, not sure he was up to encountering any more small problems where his brother was concerned.  "What's that?"


     "About next weekend...well, Carlos and I are kinda busy next weekend."


     "Doing what?"


     “See, it’s like this. . .Mrs. Gorman stopped over today when she saw us working in here, and hired me and Carlos to paint and wallpaper her kitchen next weekend."


     A.J. shook his head, muttering.  "I don't believe it."


     "Yeah, she really thought we did a nice job.  Of course, she wasn't too thrilled with the pattern,



     "That comes as no surprise," A.J. interrupted.


     "So anyway, me and Carlos will be kinda tied up next weekend."


     "Okay, fine.  The next weekend then."


     ", that won't work either."


     A.J.'s blood pressure was on the rise again.  "Why not?"


     "Mom stopped by this afternoon and saw the work me and Carlos had done here, so she hired us to do her bathroom and bedroom the weekend after next."


     Through clenched teeth A.J. said, "Okay.  Then the next weekend."


     Rick began to slowly back away from his angry brother, heading for the door, Carlos following his friend's lead.   "Well...uh...we're kinda committed for that weekend, too."


     "For God's sake who else could you two possibly be working for?"  A.J. roared.  






     "Yeah, she wants us to do her living room when we finish at Mom's."


     "And exactly when is my kitchen going to get done?" 


     "I tell you what, A.J. I left one of our business cards on your counter there.  You give me a call some time and make an appointment for when me and Carlos are free, and we'll be here Johnny-on-the-spot, I promise."


     With that, Rick raced for his truck as fast as his legs could carry him, Carlos at his heels. 


     "Rick!  Rick, get back here!"  A.J. hollered from the kitchen step.  "Damn you, Rick!  Get back here!"


     Tires squealed as Rick backed the Powerwagon out of his brother's driveway and made a hasty retreat for the marina with Carlos in the cab beside him. 


     A.J. stomped into his house, slamming the kitchen door with a resounding bang.  He was still cussing his brother out when he picked up the business card that had been left behind for him.




      It was when A.J. read the print at the bottom of the card that he really blew his stack. 


     Call Simon and Simon Investigations at 248-3600.  Ask for Rick.


     A.J. threw open the kitchen door and ran down his driveway.  To the retreating taillights of Rick's truck he yelled, "Rick, I'm going to kill you for this!  If you think I'm taking calls at the office for your stupid decorating business you've lost your mind!  Rick!  Rick, get your sorry butt back here!  Rick!  Rick!"


     Next door at the Gorman residence, Mr. Gorman rose to see what all the commotion was about.


"What's going on out there?" His wife asked from behind the evening newspaper.


     "Oh, it's the Simons again.  A.J.'s running down the sidewalk chasing after Rick's truck, yelling something about the decorating business."


     "I hope that doesn't mean that Rick and Carlos won't be here next weekend to paint and paper my kitchen."


     Hearing A.J.'s shouted threats to stuff Rick's wallpaper where the sun never shines, Mr. Gorman told his wife, "I wouldn't plan on it, Flora.  I wouldn't plan on it."   



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