Butch Misken heard the sounds of tires on the gravel driveway outside the cottage and he stepped onto the front porch to see a white Brannigan's Electric Company van pulling to a stop behind his car.
He stepped down the steps and watched as the Electrician climbed out of the cab of the van with a clipboard in hand. The worker was wearing white painter overalls and a red tee shirt over a long sleeved thermal shirt with the Brannigan logo on the chest and Brannigan Electric Company on its back.
It wasn't until the worker took a wool cap off that Butch realized it was a woman with her brown hair pulled up in a bun on the top of her head.
"Hello, Butch," she said as she stepped closer to him. "It's been a while."
"Shannon?" Butch realized after a moment. "I'm surprised it's you."
"Cuz I'm a girl?" She asked, raising her eyebrows.
"No, of course not," Butch insisted. "I was expecting your Dad. We talked on the phone last week."
"Dad's starting to phase himself out of the day to day stuff," Shannon explained. "I'm taking over most of the job responsibilities."
"Congratulations," Butch said.
"I doubt my Dad worries about you now," Shannon remarked.
"Probably not," Butch agreed.
"So," she said, glancing at the clipboard. "You want an estimate and suggestions?"
"The wiring is out of date and out of code," Butch explained. "The fixtures are from the 1950s."
"You own this place?" She asked, glancing at the run down cottage with its faded brown shingles and sagging roof.
"It was originally part of that property," Butch said, gesturing to a modernized larger weatherized home on the other side of the cottage. "The sellers decided to split the two. This one has been unused for years."
"So I see," Shannon said as she stepped closer to the cottage.
"Did you father tell you it was me?" Butch asked.
"No, but I saw your name on the order," she said as he escorted her inside the empty cottage with warped floors, rusted windows, and cracked wood paneling. "Have you hired a contractor yet?"
"Boone the Builder," Butch revealed.
"They do good work," Shannon revealed. "I'll give them a call. We can coordinate."
"Great," Butch said.
"So," she said, giving him a look. "Why you back?"
"I took a job as the Phys Ed Coordinator and baseball coach at the Sun Rise boys school," he explained. "I'm staying with a colleague until this place is ready."
"It's been a while," Shannon noted.
"About eighteen years," Butch answered. "But I got tired of being on the road all the time."
"You chose to come back here after all the places you've been?" She asked with a raised eyebrow.
"Good things happened here," Butch smiled.
Shannon went to work, walking through the cottage, taking notes, making measurements, checking out outlets and fixtures. Butch watched, intrigued to see her again after such a long time.
Shannon was never the glamorous sort - even now she was plain looking, wearing no makeup and, because of her flat chest and the loose tee shirt, it would be easy to mistake her for a man from a distance in her work clothes, including the thick orange boots she was wearing.
"What's your budget?" Shannon asked when she was done with her review.
"Whatever it takes," Butch replied.
"Boone working up plans?" She wanted to know as they stepped outside.
"He's pretty much going to gut the place and start over," Butch confirmed.
"That's probably the way to go," Shannon replied, taking a seat on the porch step to finalize her notes.
"You knew all along you'd be taking over some day, didn't you?" Butch realized as he sat next to her on the step.
" I've been working for Dad since I was thirteen," she replied. "Answering the phone, helping around the office, learning how the business worked."
"Going to the tech school," Butch remembered.
"Learning the basics of electrical work every chance I got," She confirmed. "I wanted to follow in Dad's footsteps. I admired him and I wanted to be like him. It didn't matter to him that I was a girl."
"Why would it?" Butch asked.
"You spent most of your life playing a boy's game and now you're working at a boy's school," Shannon observed with curiosity. "Are you going to tell me you're an enlightened feminist with that background?"
"I look at results," he said.
"I was good at math and science and that was good for electricity," she explained. "I studied electrical engineering at the tech college. Apprenticed for Dad. Got my electrician's license. Joined the local union. Worked my way up in the business. My co-workers take me seriously because I take the job seriously. I know more about the electrical business than all of them put together. I may be the only woman there but I'm the best there is."
"I'm sure everybody respects your professionalism," Butch remarked.
"They do," she confirmed.
"What about your personal life?" Butch wondered.
"Never made the time for that," Shannon replied, rolling her eyes. She glanced at him. "You?"
"I was part of six organizations in two dozen different towns and cities across the country," Butch said. "On the road for 72 games a year. She divorced me a long time ago."
"You were almost famous," Shannon grinned.
"Almost," he said sadly.
"So," Shannon said, standing. "I'll write this up, give Boone a call, and let you know."
"Thanks, Shannon," Butch said, standing too.
"Welcome back," she said with a smile.
Butch watched her walk to the van and climb into the cab. She gave a wave out the opened window before carefully backing out of the driveway and heading back to Hillsboro.
Butch stared after her, remembering how meeting Shannon's family literally changed his life.