“Swirling Smoke.” Jack dipped the roller into the pan and traveled the incline until the roller was damp. He lined from baseboard to molding and rapidly smoothed the trek with hurried whisks. He bent to the pan and rewet the roller.
“Swirling Smoke. That’s ass. It’s grey.” Tim lifted his sweatshirt from the waistband and mopped the sweat from his face. He dipped the brush into the can, soaked it with paint, and edged the window. “And I’m stuck doing the goddamned trim!”
Jack methodically moved along the wall: roll, sop, whisk.
Tim set the brush on the drop cloth, grabbed the sweatshirt from the waist, and pulled it over his head. “What the fuck is this heat on?”
Jack turned and saw Tim pinching paint drops from the hairs that descended from his navel. “Quit bitching. We’ve got to get this room finished by the weekend. You bitching is just going to make it worse.”
“I don’t want anyone in here. I use this room. This room is mine. I don’t want anyone in here.”
Jack set the roller on the lip of the pan, pulled the plastic paint gloves off his hands, and walked over to the pack of Camels that balanced on an ashtray that sat on the floor in the corner. He lit a cigarette and took a deep drag. “Listen to me. This is our room. Ours. Just because I don’t use it doesn’t mean it’s not ours.”
“Fine.” Tim snapped. He grabbed the sweatshirt off the floor and used it to wipe the sweat from under his arms. “How long are they staying?” He picked up the brush and returned to the window.
“Just the weekend. Annie and Dave are coming Friday night and Joe is coming Saturday morning.” Jack exhaled and tamped the cigarette in the ashtray.
Tim pitched the brush at the drop cloth. “No fuckin’ way! Joe isn’t staying here! I can’t stand that sonofabitch!”
Jack silently walked out the room; Tim’s volume followed him into the kitchen. He withdrew two beers from the refrigerator and returned to the room. He handed one to Tim. “Yeah, he is.”
“No! He’s not!” Tim twisted the top and took a pull.
“Yeah, he is.” Jack took a long drink. “Now let’s get back to work. I don’t want to spend all day on this.”
“You fucking know I don’t like him. Why the hell did you invite him? You know I can’t stand him! Our house – our invitations. You should have asked me!”
“You want to know who I can’t stand right now? You. And you’re staying here.” Jack slid a smile on the left side of his mouth and then drew his mouth into a line. “Now are you listening Tim? Are you really listening? We’ve been on the brink of a major fight. For about a month. We can have it, or not. It’s up to you. But right now we’re going to paint this room. We can do it and be in love or we can be quiet when we do it or we can fight. You decide. But, we’re painting this room.”
“It’s kinda hard to fight in a grey room.”
“It’s Swirling Smoke.”
“You should have asked me.”
Tim crossed his arms over his chest and leaned into his words, “There’s another option here.”
“Which is …?”
“We could fuck in the room and then paint it.”
Jack laughed. “As tempting as this is, we’ve got to get this room finished!”
Tim walked over to him. “On my side? It’s not a big fight. It’s a lot of little fights. And I don’t think we need to have it. I think there's stuff we've got to get over.”
“I don’t need to have it. But we’ve got to do a talk.”
Tim kissed him. “Paint then fuck?”
Tim bent down and picked up the brush. “Then let’s paint this fucking room!”
Jack laughed as he saturated the roller, drained the excess paint, and turned the corner and resumed his rolls.