Brian stared at the finished wall in satisfaction. It had taken him almost two hours to get the right effect.
“Not bad, Brian,” Nick said, from the stepladder. “Now you’ve gotta put the waves on.”
“It looks okay as it is!” Brian protested, his aching arm hanging limp by his side.
“Do you want this to look perfect or what?” Nick replied, as he dipped his brush back into the blue paint again.
Brian rubbed his aching muscles and transferred his paintbrush to his other hand. “You’re the artist,” he said.
“It’ll look great when it’s finished. Trust me on this one!”
“It’d better! My arm feels as if it’s gonna drop of!”
“Quit moaning, Brian and paint that wall!”
There was a knock on the door and Kevin’s voice shouted: “Can I come in?”
“Yeah, but mind the stepladder!” Nick called.
Kevin carefully slipped through the door. “Hey, not bad you two!” he said. “You should start your own decorating business!”
“You think he’ll like it?” Brian asked, anxiously.
“He’ll love it,” Kevin replied. “Any kid would.”
“Where’s AJ and Howie?” Nick called, still slopping paint over the ceiling.
“Still at the mall. I think they’ve got most of the stuff you wanted, Brian.”
“Good,” Brian said. “I just hope it’ll all be ready for Friday…”
“What time you picking Sammy up?” Kevin asked.
“Twelve. I’m nervous already and it’s only Wednesday.”
“How much longer will the room take?”
“We’ll be finished in an hour or so if Brian stops slouching and gets working!” Nick said, coming down the ladder.
“Since when have you been a hard worker?” Brian retorted.
“Look, we’re almost done now. I’ve finished the ceiling, that just leaves your wall and the door.”
“Want an extra hand?” Kevin asked.
“Sure. You can do the door,” Nick said, handing Kevin a paint can and brush. “I’ll help Brian.”
“Sounds good to me,” Kevin said, beginning to paint.
Nick looked hard at the wall Brian was painting. “How about if I draw a shark on it?” he asked.
“A shark? No way!”
“It’ll look cool!”
“You’re obsessed with sharks! I told you when we started, no!”
“All right, calm down Frick!” Nick said. “Just kidding! No need to hit the ceiling!”
Brian sighed. “I’m sorry, I’m just nervous. I want everything to be right.”
“No worries, it’ll be fine!”
“Helloooo!” a voice called from downstairs. “We’re baaack!”
“Up here, AJ!” Kevin called. “But be careful because I’m painting the door!”
“And don’t let Tyke in!” Brian shouted, thinking of all the paw prints of paint that he already had to clean from the stairs.
There was the sound of footsteps. Then a lot of yapping.
“No Tyke!” They heard AJ say.
There was a lot more yapping and then the slamming of a door. Then the footsteps came back up the stairs. Howie peered around the door.
“Wow! This looks cool! You guys can do my sitting room if you want!” Howie said.
“Ha ha, no!” Brian said. “It’s taken long enough to do this!”
“Let me see, let me see!” AJ said, pushing Howie out of the way. “Not bad! Nowhere near as much paint on the floor as I expected! Damn! I owe you five bucks, D!”
“We’re not that bad!” Brian protested.
“Oh yeah? Remember what happened when you tried to re decorate your bathroom, Brian? There was more paint on the floor than on the walls!”
“He has a master helping him this time!” Nick said.
“Yeah, I saw Kevin as soon as I walked in!” AJ said, grinning.
“Thanks a lot!” Nick said.
AJ laughed. “We’ve got everything you wanted, Brian. It’ll be delivered tomorrow at three. That okay for you?”
“Fine. Thanks guys for all your help. I’m doing the groceries tomorrow but I really don’t have time to do everything else. You guys are lifesavers. Did you have any trouble with the fans?”
“Bumped into a couple of girls but they were cool. They were asking about you, mainly,” Howie said.
“What did you tell them?”
“Nothing much. They asked if the rumours were true so we told them yes, but we didn’t tell them Sammy’s name or anything.”
“Good, I’m hoping to keep things quiet – at least until Sammy has settled in.”
“What are you gonna do about the press?” Kevin asked. “You know what they’re like!”
“I know, I got a phone call today from a magazine but I told them I didn’t want any fuss. They wanted to do a photo shoot of me and Sammy.”
“What did you say?”
“No, of course! He’s only five and I am not putting him through a photo shoot! He’s not a popstar, he’s a normal kid!”
“Good on you!” AJ said. “Just watch your back, they’ll find out all about Sammy somehow.”
Brian did one last stroke with his brush. Finally, the wall was finished. “We done?” he asked Nick.
His friend stood back to admire the work. “I think we are, Frick. Well done! It looks great!” Nick said.
“Well done, Frack! I hate to say it, but you did most of the work!” Brian replied.
Kevin slopped the final coat of paint over the door and then replaced his brush. “Now you just have to wait until it’s dry and then move everything in.”
“Then you’ll be ready for Sammy!” Howie said.
Thursday passed agonisingly slowly for Brian. He went shopping in the morning and ended up buying half of the supermarket because he wasn’t sure what to get. When he returned home, he sat watching the clock, nervously waiting for the deliverymen to arrive. The old stuff in the room, he’d decided, had been too scruffy so he’d thrown it all away in favour of buying some new furniture for Sammy.
Kevin came that afternoon in case he needed any help. As it turned out, Brian needed his cousin’s help just to calm down.
“What if he doesn’t like it? What if he doesn’t like me?”
“He’ll love the room and you already know that he loves you!” Kevin reassured him.
When no van arrived dead on three, Brian began to panic. Kevin ordered him to sit down before he wore the carpet out with all of his pacing.
At twenty past three, a huge van roared up the street. Brian signed for everything, whilst Kevin helped the deliverymen carry everything up the stairs. When they had left, Brian dashed up to the newly decorated room.
“Right, where’s everything going?” Kevin asked.
“Bed there, desk by the window and table by the bed,” Brian said, firmly.
“Got it all planned, huh cuz?”
With Kevin’d help, Brian dragged everything to it’s right place. Then he changed his mind and they moved it all again. Brian wanted to shift the bed more to the left but Kevin refused.
“It all fits nicely now. The bed won’t fit just there,” he said. “You done now?”
“Yep, I just need to make the bed for him.”
“What about clothes?”
“I’ll take him shopping on Saturday. Like you said, I’ve got it all planned out!”
Kevin smiled. “I’m proud of you, you know Brian. The way you’re looking after Sammy and everything. You’ll be a great dad to him.”
Brian smiled shyly. He hadn’t really thought of himself as being a dad to Sammy, but if he were able to keep him, and god did he want that, then he would become the equivalent to a parent.
“Thanks,” he said.
That night, time crept by slowly. Brian kept running over everything in his mind and checking the room to make sure everything was perfect.
When he went to bed, he couldn’t sleep. Every time he was dozing off, he would suddenly sit up and panic. Had he put the curtains up? Yes, Kevin did that. The rug? Yes, he’d done that himself.
He fell asleep without realising it and dreamed that he forgot to pick Sammy up and that when he finally did remember, it was too late because Sammy had gone to another home.
The alarm went off at eight. Brian sat up abruptly. Finally, Friday was here. In four hours, he would be bringing Sammy home.