Carlisle’s been away from Richmond for the better part of two years leaving behind home, the dog, Bocephus, and man, Chris Carrick, a sculptor and restorative carpenter.
“On the Glorious Fourth when the fireworks blossomed and thundered over the baseball stadium by Scott’s Addition they lay on the grass behind Carlisle’s Leigh Street house. After that, damp bits clinging to her legs, she rolled over and noticed for the first time that the side fence wasn’t curvy or old, but straight. Chris never breathed a word about this undertaking. The suddenness of her sitting up startled him.
She rose and, frowning, bent her elbows to tie the halter’s neck knot. She shook out the disarrayed denim skirt, and mouth agape, demanded to know what happened to her cattywumpus fence. Her grandfather built that fence.
Chris, not expecting this reaction, and especially right after their intimacies, pulled himself up, wincing, and attempted explanation.
“You know that gate wouldn’t work because of how it was – what’d you call it?”
“Right, it was messed up. I saved everything, though, sweetheart. Every single rotten picket.”
“Boy,” Carlisle, hands on hips, shook her head. “This isn’t even my fence.”
“What d’ya mean?”
“I don’t own this place. Yet. I’m working it off through Uncle Jimmy. ‘Course, he says the rate I’m going he’ll end up havin’ to will it to me. And, anyway, I got that back gate.”
“That’s 1950s chain link and it works just fine. Doesn’t look so great, but.”
She stood, back to him, surveying the replacement pickets that, though bathed by streetlight glow, radiated their fresh presence.
Even now, Chris admired the wings of Carlisle’s shoul- derblades and he wanted to brush from them what must’ve been itchy green particles.
“You do this by yourself?”
“Got some help. Amazing how much work you can get out of a couple guys with Lee’s Chicken and cold beer.”
Carlisle lowered her head, sighed, twisted her mouth. She gave him an over-the-shoulder one-eyed squint.
She extended an arm toward him. “Uh-huh?”
“I’m taking you inside.”
“Carlisle Montgomery,” with significant scenes set in the grittier 1990s Scott’s Addition, is presently available at Richmond’s Chop Suey Books of Carytown, the Fountain Bookstore in Shockoe, and through this website,