Unformatted text preview: the Klumps on time. I refused to borrow money for the project, though Stan Atcavage was always ready to loan it. After work each Friday I would sit down with Lester Senior, usually on a makeshift plywood table in a hallway, and over a cold beer we would tally up the labor and materials for the week, add 10 percent, and I would write him a check. I filed his records away, and for the first two years kept a running total of the cost of the renovation. After two years, though, I stopped adding the weekly to the cumulative. I didn't want to know what it was costing. I was broke but I didn't care. The money pit had been sealed off; I had teetered on the brink of insolvency, dodged it, and now I could begin stashing it away again. And I had something magnificent to show for the time, effort, and investment. The house had been built around 1900 by Dr. Miles Hocutt. It had a distinctive Victorian style, with two high gabled roofs in the front, a turret that ran up four levels, and wide covered porches that swept around the house on both sides. Over the years the Hocutts had painted the house blue and yellow, and Mr. Klump, Sr., had even found an area of bright red under three coats of newer paint. I played it safe and stayed with white and beige and light brown trim. The roof was copper. Outside it was a rather plain Victorian, but I would have years to jazz it up. Inside, the heart-pine floors on all three levels had been restored to their original beauty. Walls had been removed, rooms and hallways opened up. The Klumps had finally been forced to remove the entire kitchen and build another from the basement up. The fireplace in the living room had actually collapsed under the pressure of relentless jack-hammering. I turned the library into a den and knocked out more walls so that upon entering the front foyer you could see through the den to the kitchen in the distance. I added windows everywhere; the house had originally been built like a cave. Mr. Klump admitted he had never tasted champagne, but he...
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