It was time to sit down with Steve and begin discussing the disaster area otherwise known as the lower floor of our house.
He had done a great job on the upstairs kitchen and we had faith that he was up to the task of gutting and renovating the lower floor.
A few months earlier Jane had briefed us on Steve’s background. Born and educated in Maine, he’d worked as a graphic designer in Boston before chucking it all five years earlier and moving with his second wife, a yoga instructor, to start a new life in Vieques.
Jane had characterized him as an interesting enigma.
My take was slightly less nuanced. “Aging hippie” flashed across my brain the first time I met him—long of hair, lean of limb, and decidedly mellow of mood.
So mellow, in fact, that I couldn’t help wondering if he’d had a hit or two off the old bong that morning.
“How’s it been living here?” I asked, curious to get his take on Vieques.
Big smile. “Fabulous.”
He stroked his stubble. “None. In fact, I’ve never been happier in my life.”
“And your wife?”
“She’s in heaven. Never liked the city anyway. Born and bred in Vermont.”
He spoke in short, staccato phrases. This unusual speech pattern could be attributed, I decided, to one or all of the following factors: (a) he was a New Englander; (b) he was shy; and/or (c) he was high as a kite.
And a bit of a loner. In fact, he struck me as one of those guys who’d rather dig a drainage ditch…
…than sit through a meeting, particularly with people he didn’t know very well.
Three cups of coffee later we trailed downstairs.
Steve’s eyes darted around the derelict rooms with genuine excitement. This struck me as very odd—and a really good sign.
I showed him the pathetically child-like drawing Michael and I had made a couple of days earlier.
(Alright, it wasn’t quite that bad, but almost.)
“Cool,” he said, pacing around as he studied the sketch. “I see what you have in mind. Looks great.”
I couldn’t help laughing. “You can read our drawing?”
He smiled and glanced at the Stone Age-style sketch in his hand. ”Sure. No problem.”
Okay, the verdict was in.
He was absolutely stoned out of his mind.