Jane called the following week. “We’ve run out of ceramic tiles.”
I was at work. I got up from my desk and closed the door. “What do you mean?”
“Neither bedroom floor is finished, and we’re out of tiles.”
My head spun. After all we’d been through getting the tiles, this couldn’t be happening.
“But Steve bought more than enough tiles. I told him to buy the whole warehouse full if he had to.”
“Yeah, I know, but he didn’t. Pablo was with him when he placed the order. He was short on cash and bought less than he needed. Frankie at Nales told him they had a huge stock and he didn’t need to worry. But someone came along and bought the rest in the meantime.”
My mind rushed ahead, imagining the outcome. The living/dining room would have one kind of floor, the bedrooms another. The visual flow from one room to another would be disturbed, the overall effect of spaciousness ruined.
“I’m on my way to Nales to find Frankie and make him search his warehouse from top to bottom. I’ll call you back from there.”
I dreaded telling Michael. Although he’d take it in his stride, he’d still be upset. In the end, I decided to wait until I heard from Jane.
Two hours passed, then three. No call. I sat through a meeting in a complete daze, and when it was over I rushed back to my desk to see if she’d left a message.
I tried her number. She didn’t pick up. I realized this didn’t mean anything—cell service around the island was spotty—but I felt my shoulders tighten up even more. If she hadn’t called by the time I was ready to leave for the day I’d try her again.
Twenty minutes later the phone rang. “Frankie and I ransacked the place. There’s not one tile left.”
“Oh my god,” I wailed dramatically.
“But I have a couple of ideas.”
Her suggestions weren’t bad: pull up the tiles that had already been laid in the bedrooms and either completely replace them with as close a match as possible or use them as a border around a central section of contrasting tiles.
But I was still in denial. “Did you check the other hardware stores?”
Jane sighed. “Frankie bought your tile in Miami. What are the chances a different vendor in Vieques is going to have that same style?”
She was right. I felt sick.
“Thanks Jane. Let me talk to Michael.”
“Don’t be mad at Steve.”
But I was.
And to make matters worse, I was ashamed of being mad.