I called Jane to tell her we wanted a spiral staircase like the one at Jack’s Coffee House.
“Do you know Alfredo?” I asked.
“Junior or Senior?” she shot back.
She really did seem to know everyone on the island.
“Not sure. Who does ironwork?”
“Both of them.”
“Who built the staircase at Jack’s?”
“Probably Senior, but I’ll find out.”
She found out. It was Alfredo Senior, but he couldn’t make our staircase, at least not for a while because his wife was seriously ill.
“How awful,” I murmured sympathetically, adding in the same breath, “Could Junior do it instead?” I wasn’t sure I liked myself anymore.
“I’ll find out.”
Alfredo Junior couldn’t do it, but Senior decided he could. He needed to keep busy, he explained to Jane through her new sidekick and translator, Chris.
And anyway, he needed the money to pay his wife’s medical bills.
First we asked for an estimate, including installation. This took three weeks. When it came it seemed high. But then everything seems outlandishly high or low when you lack a frame of reference.
So we went online and got a general idea of how much metal spiral staircases cost in the U.S. Then we took a second look at Alfredo’s estimate and decided it was more or less reasonable (for Vieques anyway).
We gave Jane the green light.
A month later Alfredo called her to say he needed to come out to measure the space again.
“But that means he hasn’t done anything yet!” I wailed.
“Could be,” Jane responded in her matter of fact way. “Should I tell him not to come?”
She had me there. “Of course not,” I said. “But tell him to hurry.”
She paused for effect. “I’ll get right on that.”
A week later she called to report that the staircase was ready. I dashed into the other room to tell Michael.
“It’s ready!” I gasped ecstatically.
He looked at me as if I’d lost my mind.
“The staircase! They’re installing it tomorrow!”
He put down his book. “Seriously?”
“Yes! Jane says it looks great.”
“She saw it?”
“She went to Alfredo’s shop.”
“She’s a treasure.”
“She’s a goddess!”
“You need to lie down.”