"Nails." Without looking down from his perch on the ladder, Josiah thrust out his hand to his assistant.
"Hey, I need some nails up here."
"Buck!" He snapped his fingers.
Looking down to where Buck stood below, he saw a goofy grin spreading across his friend's face. Following the direction of his gaze, Josiah could see Elizabeth standing at the back window of her schoolroom.
At that very moment as she turned and waved at them, Josiah nodded and touched the brim of his hat.
"See ya, pal," Buck said, heading for the church.
"Hey, where do you think you're goin'?" Josiah called after him, coming down from the ladder.
"Well, to see Miss Elizabeth, where do ya think?"
"Uh-uh. No, you're not. She's got a class going on in there. You can't just break in on it," Josiah said, as he caught up with him. "Besides, we've got work to do, and you did offer to help. If that's what you want to call it."
"Nothing you can't handle, Preacherman." Buck answered back, clapping Josiah on the back. "Anyway, she needs me."
"Yeah. She motioned for me."
"She did not!"
"Sure she did. Didn't you see it? I'll admit it was . . . subtle, but I knew what she meant. You just don't pick up on that sort of thing. I think she kinda . . . well, likes me." Buck scuffed toe of his boot in the dusty ground and tried his best to look humble.
"Oh, Lord . . ." Josiah said with a sigh. Shaking his head, he saw his friend strut away and head for the back steps of the church.
"Watch out! Don't use those . . ."
Before Josiah could finish the warning, Buck pushed aside the pieces of lumber blocking access to the stairs and leaped up to the top one, only to break through a rotten board Josiah had planned to fix when he had time.
Buck looked up from his rather humiliating waist-deep position to find Elizabeth and several of her students standing at the back door, witnesses to his downfall.
Ever the charmer, Buck quickly removed his hat and made a valiant attempt to bow from the waist. "Ma'am."
Seeing he wasn't hurt, Elizabeth laughed, shook her head and ushered her children back into their classroom.
Buck struggled for a minute trying to extricated himself, then as best as he could, turned in Josiah's direction. "Hey . . .preacher, help me out of here, would ya?"
Josiah merely tipped his hat to Buck. "See ya, pal." With a satisfied grin on his face, he returned to his work on the new teacher's house.