12 The Copper Hurricane

       Phoebe walks from the kitchen over to Comma who is quietly snoring on the couch in the living area of their Berkeley loft. She kicks his feet off of a homemade coffee table. Comma found a Queen Anne style reproduction with a giant hole in the top on a neighborhood curb. He replaced the top with a home made 70's infinity window. It's two mirrors facing each other at an angle with led's around the inside edges. When you look down, you see the reflection of each mirror in the other, creating infinite depth.

       “GET UP,” she exclaims, “we've got a lot to do this morning.”

       “Wha..?” He looks up, rubs his eyes with clinched fists, as his bare feet land on a round cotton rope rug under the sitting area. “What? You know I always nap now on Sunday.”

       “Not today. We've got company coming over at 3 P.M. for a barbecue. Remember Jake and Sylvia are in town and are staying overnight.”

       “But I just got the Gilligan's Island collection off DriveFlicks. I was going to watch it all day.” Comma replies in a grumpy boyish whine.

       “NAD's, I've been planing this for weeks. You knew over a month ago.” Phoebe stands over him with her hands on her hips. “Get up, boot your silly ass.”

       “Phoee,” he yawns, “I no wanna.”

       “Too bad. You promised to grill.” She bends over and snatches the remote next to him on the leather couch. “You want this back? Remember what happened the last time?” She shakes it at him.

       “No, no, you can't do that again.” The last time Comma Nadu drug his feet on a Sunday picnic at the Berkeley Kite Festival, Phoebe mailed the remote to his friend, to Seven's apartment. Seven was out of town for a week.

       “I need to you to pick up your work area, prep the grill, and after noon, get some beer, wine, and whatever for our guests.” She points the remote at the entertainment system and turns everything off.

       “There's beer in the fridge.” Comma replies with a frown. He watches as she removes the batteries from the remote, and sits them and the remote down on the bar table that separates the living space from the kitchen. She reaches for a flat-rate US post office shipping box behind the shelves in their living room.

       “It's not enough. You drank all but three bottles last night.” She reaches for a tape gun on the shelf and place the flat box under her arm. She pulls out a length of tape.

       “Okay, okay, put down the tape gun,” Comma stands. “No remotes need to be hidden; I'll get started in my work area. It shouldn't take too long.”

       “Great,” she says, and sets the box and tape down on the counter. “I'll just hold on to this remote until you get back from the store.” She puts it and it's batteries in a pocket in the apron she is wearing. She made it herself with an old McCall pattern on 1950's cowgirl curtain material. The cowgirl is in an ivory stetson against a yellow background, pink check blouse and red scarf to match her red lips. She has a lasso in one hand and a tray with a coca cola on it in the other.

       Comma bows his head, sighs, and slinks off to his work area. There loft was an automotive repair shop in a tin quonset hut. Comma purchased it 3 years ago and converted it to a live/work. He built standard walls with insulation between the walls and tin. It is amazingly sound proof and holds it’s temperature well. A full size garage door takes up 40% of the face, along with a window, and entry door. The 17-foot, roll up garage door still operates on a chain drive, and Comma fabricated a second roll up door that is a screen mesh curtain to keep out insects in the summer. Clay planters, 2’ x 4’, sit in front the remaining space on the front wall. The one left of the garage door is planted in succulents and the other is seasonal. Currently, it is planted in bulbs that Phoebe’s mom brought back from Amsterdam. A single-space parking driveway is on the right of the building. It is surrounded with a black iron fence and electric gate. The two share a 1978 green Ford F150 with camper top.

       The loft is divided into three areas: the work shop is upfront as you enter, the living area is behind it, and a bedroom, a full bathroom, a walk-in closet, and an attic are upstairs on an over hanging loft level, built during the conversion. There is no room for stairs, so the loft is accessed with an old retrofit library ladder sans wheels. Comma plans to add a spiral staircase, but has not been able to find one that he can trade for or afford.

       The workshop and living area are separated with a homemade wall and door (on the right) on wheels. Wheels-up, the wall is too heavy to move; but with the industrial casters down, it rolls out of the way. A mural of San Francisco is painted on the side facing the living area, and facing the workshop, a friend of Phoebe's painted the hallway of a computer server farm. The shop is setup with two worktables in an “L” configuration. The table in front of the false wall is connected to the first and rolls under it on casters. The rolling leaf also has a work surface underneath its top that pulls out like a flat drawer. Underneath it are large plastic bins and drawer units on wheels. A metal shelf and more bins make up the wall opposite the static work surface. When the work tables and bins are compressed into themselves, the false wall is rolled off to the left in front of the shelf, hiding its clutter, and all tools are in their place, the workshop becomes a large living area for gaming and socializing.

       Comma starts with his tools, he hangs them in traced icons on a peg board wall. It's a hanging jigsaw that looks like an industrial sculpture. He pulls out an empty plastic distribution crate on wheels from under one of the worktables and scrapes all non-fragile items into it: de-soldered resistors and memory chips, a couple of keyboards, handfuls of keys, and computer case infrastructure pop and clink as it hits the bottom and itself in the crate. He moves from one workstation top to the next until the 2' x 4' x 4' bin is near full. He'll sort it out later. Mondays on site first thing, is the perfect time to sort when no other projects are pressing. Some of will go into a wall high drawer bins and shelves on the opposite side of the office, some of it into a current project, and the rest goes to the scrap yard. Any fragile items or work in progress goes on empty shelves. A sign above the set of shelves reads, “These empties are for current projects only! All else is for the grinder.”

       He wheels the work surface at the back to its position under its desk. He returns the bin and shoves a work stool next to it under the desk. He grabs a nylon anti-static broom from the corner and sweeps through out the room. He lifts a small metal trap door and sweeps any remnants into a square hole in the concrete floor. A suction system will pull its contents to a bin where anything of value can be sorted.

       “Wall or no wall?” Comma shouts through the door to the living area. There is no answer. He places the broom back into the corner and walks into the living area. Phoebe is not in the kitchen, so he walks to the sink and looks out the window over the sink into the back yard. Phoebe is hosing off the wooden deck and tattered lawn furniture.

       Comma opens the window, “Wall or no wall,” he shouts above the rushing water.

       Phoebe looks up and closes the firehose spigot, it's twice the size of a garden hose. “What?” She yells back.

       “Wall or no?”

       “No wall,” she says. “Put down the rugs and pull out the folding chairs.”


       Phoebe drops the hose and walks over to the large sliding window. “I just got a call and Sylvia wants to bring a few friends.”

       “How frickin' many?” Comma reacts poorly to the news of impromptu strangers in his space.

       “I don't know, a few,” she answers.

       “Really? In my shop, on my weekend off? Really?” He raises his shoulders and sighs deeply in disapproval.

       “Silly.” She reaches through the window and pulls his head out, “it'll be fine. You'll have fun.” Phoebe kisses him on the cheek. “They're circus people. Remember the last time?”

       “Okay, okay, resistance is futile.” He says and Phoebe kisses him again on the lips.

       “I love you.”

       “Can I ask Seven?” He asks. “So, I'll know someone.

       “Sure, sure, but you need to get going. You might want to get a pony keg, if they have one on short notice?” She returns to the hose.

       “YES.” He pumps his arm and fist. “I call now to find out.” He turns and closes the window. “Shit.” He returns to the widow and opens it. “Hey, party girl, how much food?”

        Phoebe walks back to the hose and picks it up, “don't worry, I'll get the food. Pick up some charcoal as well.”

       “YEAH times two.” He smiles with faux enthusiasm. At least I get to try out the grill I made from two old Macintosh towers. “I'm glad it's a three-day weekend,” he mumbles.

       “GET GOING,” she points the hose at him. We don't have a lot of time she thinks to herself. I hope he's finished the workshop. Let's see, Sylvia said probably five, so with seven that is eight guests. I'll plan for 10. I need 10 lbs of meat including some soy burgers, ground beef, hot dogs, a couple of fryers and steaks to make nachos. I'll get a tub of potato salad, ranch beans, tabouli salad, creamy fruit salad, bread, and chips and dip. Do I still have those pickles we bought at the farmers market last weekend? We'll make ice cream for dessert and I'll grab a couple of watermelons. I hope they have some cold ones. It must be 10 o'clock; I don't have much time. I am glad I cleaned the loft yesterday.

       She rolls up the hose, and enters the apartment to take a shower. Comma is already under the hot water and singing Brimful of Asha, Cornershop. The shower is big enough for three or four with two nozzles on opposite walls and Comma's funky copper pipe creation that turns the open 5' x 5' space into a monsoon on demand. She pulls off her Dr. Who sleep shirt and enters under Comma's spigot. She kisses him on the ear. His golden brown body is covered in soap and he stops singing. Comma turns and smiles, drops his soapy arms and wraps them around her. His warm tongue meets hers and his hands slide down past the black rose over her sacroiliac and cups her buttocks.

       “Stop, silly,” she slaps his arm. “We don't have time for that now.”

       Undeterred, he pulls here glistening pale body to his and kisses her again.

       She slaps him again only on the rump and harder. “I mean it.” She reaches over and switches on the hurricane. The copper pipes vibrate as air is pushed out and replaced with warm water. A final clunk warns any one in the shower and she turns, steps back, and smiles at him. Her pink nipples are erect, and then, all Comma can see and hear is water, warm fast water everywhere.


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