Phillip & Vee: Pt. 2
Jeremey Strough (TheLorian)
[Phillip] slowed slightly at the top of a hill. From that spot, he could gaze down onto his favorite view, not only in all of Dubuque, but probably the entire world. Nestled firmly at the base of the hill, surrounded by a thin perimeter of trees, was his home.
It was a small, somewhat old-fashioned farm house. Two stories, painted white, with black trim. The gray tin roof parted slightly around a brick chimney, which was purely aesthetic. The lawn, neatly mowed not long ago, was just starting to appear unkempt. Phillip vaguely wondered if it would need to be mowed again. That was definitely a question Vee would be able to answer.
Phillip pulled up the gravel driveway and paused for a moment before getting out of the car. He was looking up at the house. The drapes were all pulled, making the windows appear black from outside. Cement steps led up to the front door. Given the motif of everyday life in post-fall, pre-winter Iowa, he wasn’t a fan of the color scheme, but for better or worse, it was home.
He stepped out of the car and stretched. It was cold outside, as December should be. But the constant breeze, the seemingly ceaseless gusts, had vanished. The air had taken on a strange, hushed sensation. It almost felt as though the world were building up to some unknown conclusion. Phillip shrugged, and made his way to the house.
Inside, with the door shut firmly, the cold of the outdoors was almost completely forgotten. The heat was on, as it had been for weeks. More than that, though, was the heat that carried with it a scent. The telltale hint of savory meat, and what Phillip assumed were vegetables.
The front door led directly into a small mud room. He deposited his coat onto a standing rock, and stepped into the kitchen. The warmth and smells enveloped him almost immediately. It was a large, country-style kitchen that had been recently redone. Bright and shiny linoleum reflected the overhead lighting, giving an added depth to the hanging and under-counter cabinets. The appliances had all been replaced with their newest counterparts. One of the best details, though, was the picture windows, just above the sink, looking out across the backyard.
Phillip’s favorite part of the kitchen wasn’t a permanent facet, but a frequent one nonetheless. Standing in front of the oven, wearing a plain black apron and stirring a pot, was Vee.
Vincent, or Vee for short, had been born and raised in rural Iowa. He’d never lived without the ever-present greenery of his home state, and never escaped the constant, looming threat of winter that accompanied it. The furthest he’d ever been from Iowa, Vee would often explain, was his trip to Arizona, to bring Phillip home.
Taking care to move as silently as he could, Phillip slipped out of his shoes and began tip-toeing his way across the kitchen. Vee was in a world of his own, bobbing his head along to whatever song he happened to have gotten stuck. He never saw it coming.
Phillip snuck up behind him, and in one fluid movement wrapped his arms around Vee’s stomach.
Vee jumped, his entire body going rigid for a moment, before he turned around. “God! You scared the crap out of me!” Though he was trying to scold Phillip, he had a wide smile on his face, and a mischievous glint in his eye.
“Oh, you love it.”
Phillip helped Vee finish up cooking, and they ate dinner together while speaking about their respective days. Vee worked from home, making his inputs more about the weather and trending news reports. For Phillip, it was mostly any difficult calls he’d had to take, or any fun happenings around the office. They had at one point discussed, and occasionally revisited, the percentage of adult life that was nothing but mundane. It had been difficult for both of them to accept, but over time they had.