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Drama Sad Holiday

“Kristof, are you sure this is what you want? My father is not going to like this.”

“I’ve thought about it Marie. The pandemic is hurting everyone. Plus, you know how my

headaches have come back. They haven’t been this bad in over 20 years. They’re so random and unpredictable, I just don’t know if I can do it.”

“Well you’re going to have to talk to him then because I’m sure as hell not. This is your decision and I’m not about to break my own father’s heart.”

Kristof and Marie had been dating for several years. Marie’s father owned and ran a small

carpentry and woodworking business, The Wood Chest. It provided an adequate living, keeping the Peters family entrenched in the middle class social scene for almost a century. Once it

became apparent that Kristof and Marie were committed to each other, Stephen Peters, Marie’s father, brought on Kristof as his protege with the goal of one day handing the reigns of The Wood Chest to him.

“When are you going to talk to him?” Marie asked. “I know you’re both working on that project today.”

“I still haven’t fully decided that I’m going to do it. You know I have that week booked soon at that AirBnB cabin” Kristof replied. “Thank you for letting me have that time alone by the way.”

“Of course. I do know you’ve been under a lot of stress, you need a reboot.”

“Oh you’re right about that. But yeah, I’m still not 100% sure I want to tell him anyway. It’s a big decision and there’s just so much at play.” Kristof stood and cleared the table.

“Well,” Marie said as she scrubbed away the morning’s breakfast residue from the pan, “make sure this isn’t a rash decision. Spend some time with dad, go grab a beer with him and just talk. I’m sure things will become more clear if you don’t keep things bottled up to yourself.”

“Yeah. I’ll see how it the project comes along this morning and go from there. Marie?”

“Yes?”

“Thank you. I love you.”

“I love you too K. Now hurry up and shower. You need to leave in 20 minutes.”

“Yes mother” Kristof said playfully, rolling his eyes.

Marie shot him a playful angry look and threw the dish towel at him. Kristof caught it and threw it back immediately, taking off running to the bathroom before she could have a chance to throw it back.

**********

The working portion of The Wood Chest was a 1200 square foot space in the back of the Peters’ family land. It was originally a guest house when Marie’s great-grandfather built the main house and started the company roughly one hundred years ago. When Stephen, Marie’s father, took over the daily operations of the business, he converted the guest house into the main workshop. This was where the big projects were made.

Stephen Peters was sanding and turning a piece of cedar at one of the lathes in a corner of the shop when Kristof walked in. Stephen was only 60 years old, but the years of running The Wood Chest had begun to cause some arthritis in his shoulders and he appeared to be closer to 70 than his actual age. His hardened skin seemed moreso due to his nearly solid white hair. While still able to get his customers taken care of and his jobs done in a reasonable amount of time, he was more than happy to have the help of Kristof. The days the two spent working on projects and building custom pieces for customers and clients seemed to go by much faster than when one of them was working solo. It also didn’t hurt that it was looking more and more like Kristof was

going to propose to Stephen’s daughter Marie in the next few weeks. Stephen enjoyed Kristof’s company immensely and was excited about the possibilities for The Wood Chest when he

finally handed control of the business to his (hopeful) future son-in-law.

“Morning Mr. Peters, how many projects are on the slate for today?”

“Hey there Kristof! This is it for the day, but it’s going to take a majority of our time.”

“Just the one huh?” Kristof sighed. “How long has it been since we had multiple jobs going at once? I miss the days when we had to budget our time enough to be able to work on a few

different pieces each day.”

Stephen turned off his machine and stretched. “I know son, it’s been awhile. Once the

pandemic hit, it slowed us down quite a bit. We’re still getting orders and making money, but yes there has been a drop off the past few months.”

Kristof slid on his apron and safety goggles. “Didn’t you say that we should be getting more

custom orders any day now?”

“I did say that, yes.” Stephen replied. “We actually just got three orders for some really amazing

patio pieces. I know I promised you your week vacation next week, so I convinced the client to let us start those in a couple weeks after you get back.”

“Thank you sir” Kristof said with some excitement. “First, for letting me take the time off like that, my headaches are back and I honestly need the break.”

“That’s no problem, I need you healthy. My goal is to get all of this” Stephen gestured to the shop with a wide arch of his arm “transferred to you by the end of the quarter. I haven’t told

Marie this, but I’m retiring soon. My shoulders aren’t getting better. This is all about to be

yours.”

“That’s quite a lot to take in Mr. Peters. Why haven’t you told her?”

Stephen went back to work on the lathe while Kristof worked on sanding some of the larger

pieces. He had to shout so he could be heard clearly.

“Because you know how she worries, Kristof. She’s concerned enough as it is. Can you imagine how she would take it if she knew that I was planning to retire earlier than anyone knows? For this to go smoothly, this is how it has to be done.”

Kristof stifled a laugh. “Yeah, she does tend to get worked up and over think a bit. Mr. Peters?”

“Yes?”

“Let’s go grab a couple of drinks after work today. I’ve got a couple things I’d like to talk to you about.”

Stephen’s face lit up. “You’ve got yourself a deal. Let’s get this work knocked out so we can

enjoy ourselves later.”

They both turned from the other and got back to working on their respective parts of the project.

**********

The first snow of the season had started falling in the afternoon and the bar was not very

crowded. A young couple sat at the bar and a group of three off duty construction workers were standing over a pool table deciding would would break the first game. Stephen and Kristof sat facing one another in a corner booth. Stephen had just started his rum and coke and Kristof was

taking a sip of his beer when the waitress brought their food. Stephen got the fries and Kristof the nachos (Kristof loved him some nachos).

“Great job today on the sanding Kristof” as Stephen took a bite of fries.

“Thank you. I think I only managed a couple of splinters, not so bad” Kristof said with a grin.

Stephen smiled. “You’ll live. I’m glad you picked this place. I like it, not smoky or anything.”

“I know it’s not your regular spot, but it’s a great low key place with amazing food.” Kristof scooped more ground beef onto a nacho. “These things are glorious.”

“You said you wanted to talk about a couple things. Is everything okay?” Stephen finished his drink and signaled the bartender for another.

“Honestly, I’m not sure. I’m worried.”

“About what son?” Stephen asked.

“I don’t know how to say this, but I’m worried about the shop, about The Wood Chest.”

A look of confusion came over Stephen’s face. “Oh? Go on.”

Kristof took a deep breath and closed his eyes. “I know it’s been in the family since before your father was born. I know the history it has in this town, the history it has for that property and for the Peters’. But we’ve got to be realistic and look at the big picture. Business has dropped

upwards of 50 percent the past 7 to 8 months, and it’s getting close to 60.”

“Uh huh. I’m aware.” Stephen said softly with a hardened stare. “What’s your point? I told you things are starting to pick up. The Wood Chest has made it through tough times before and I

don’t see how this is any different.”

“Stephen. Mr. Peters. Look at it. There is a worldwide pandemic going on and businesses like this, shops like this one, they’re all struggling. And with no end in sight? How much longer can we keep it up?”

They silently looked at each other as the waitress brought them each another drink before

leaving to attend to a table of men that just entered. The men at the pool table were starting their second game.

“Kristof, I want you to listen, and I want you to listen good. The Wood Chest has survived

countless ups and downs, the mini depression in the 80s, the crash of 08, 9/11, all of it. And guess what? We’ve come out stronger in the end. I know we can do it again, and that’s why I want you. You know that I’m turning it over to you over the next couple of months. We can do this.”

Kristof took another deep breath and downed half his bottle in one chug. “That’s the thing. I don’t want it.”

Stephen slammed his glass down and everyone in the bar quickly glanced his direction before

turning away. “What do you mean you don’t want it?”

Kristof looked Stephen in the eyes. “I mean I don’t want to take over The Wood Chest. I don’t want The Wood Chest. If you turn it over to me, I’ll of course take it, but I won’t continue to

keep it in the family.”

All the color drained from Stephen Peters’ face. “I, I, don’t know what I’m hearing. I can’t

believe this. We were going to turn it around together and you were going to usher in a new era for The Wood Chest.”

“We still can turn it around Mr. Peters, but I will look to sell the business within a year if you give me full control.” Kristof said matter of factly. “I’m not going to continue the family

business long term.”

“This hurts, you know this.” Stephen said, barely above a whisper. “What can I do to change your mind?”

“Unfortunately, there’s nothing you can do. I’ve made up my mind. I will gladly stay on and

continue working with you. We can continue turning things around. I’m not leaving you high and dry. I will help you with the search for the next head of your family business, but that person is not going to be me.” Kristof finished his beer and grabbed another beef laden nacho.

“I definitely wasn’t expecting this, but if your mind is made up, I’m not going to try and force you.” Stephen said as he picked at the remainer of his fries, clearly distracted.

“I appreciate you letting me get that out, and I’m sorry.” Kristof’s cell phone began to buzz in his pocket.

He signalled for one final round of drinks before looking at his phone.

“It’s Marie. She wants to talk.”

**********

November 27, 2020 06:40

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