Episode 74. The Roofer
Little Mac looked around the table at his household gathered there and smiled and shook his head.
"It seems like only yesterday," he said, "that a meal only brought two of us here. Me and Bertie. I thought that was the way it would be to the end. And now our daughter Delilah is back and our grandson Noah with her. And Sir Barksalot has adopted us. And Cousin Minnie has abandoned her California castle for our humble abode. So it was on my mind this morning to have us all sit down before breakfast and just be here for a moment together and acknowledge how lucky we are, for whatever reasons, to come together as a family. Even if it only lasts for a moment..."
At that very moment, a racket broke out next door that startled Little Mac and made him lose his train of thought. He sat there speechless while Noah went to the window and raised the blinds.
On the roof of the neighbour's house, a crew of young men and their hammers and nail guns had just gotten busy applying new asphalt shingles. Hip hop music blared from a speaker on the scaffolding. Packages of shingles were being unloaded from a large truck. All stripped to the waist and already glistening with sweat in the brilliant morning sun, the crew called back and forth to each other in an exuberance of youthful well-being, raucous and jocular.
Coming to Little Mac's rescue, Big Bertha declared that she had a wonderful idea. They would have a picnic on the water for breakfast. The ocean was calm and they could get far from the noise. She immediately started to organize, putting food into bags and sending her husband to the basement to retrieve the portable propane stove. Delilah was gathering paper napkins and plastic cutlery and cups when she happened to take another look at the crew on the roof next door.
"Mother," she said, when they had finished transporting everything in Mac's dinghy to the back deck of Big Bertha's old Cape Islander. "Mother, I can't go. I just got a call. They need me at work right away."
"Whatever for?" said Big Bertha. "For goodness sake, this is too fast of a start for the whole world to be off to."
"I'll tell you later," said Delilah. "Have a good breakfast. And take care of Daddy. He looks a little unsteady."
She watched and waved from shore as they unmoored and motored out of the glassy harbour, and then, after a short detour, she walked straight and resolutely to the neighbour's house and called up to the roof, "And just what do you think you're doing here, Sam?"
Her husband Sam, at the peak, turned and regarded her. Lean and muscular and tan, he looked like a god, one whose first glimpse of humankind was taking his breath away. His buddy jostled him. Coming to his senses, he said, "Well, Dee, I'm just working. See? Just working."
"Uh huh," she said. "Right next door. Well, let me tell you something. If you're stalking me, you better stop. Now. And if you have any idea of making off with our son again, you better put that idea out of your head. In fact, by the time he gets back, I expect you to be gone. I'm calling the cops if you're not.
"Honey," he said, "it's a job. I can't just leave."
"Tell it to the judge," she said and disappeared indoors.
"Well, lover boy," said his buddy. "What did you think would happen?"
Sam cast a pleading look up at the clouds. "I guess I got to go, guys," he said apologetically to the crew. He made his way down the ladder as slowly as if he were turning to stone.
When he got to his truck, he found a wild rose on the seat. He drove away with it pressed to his heart, oblivious to the thorns on the stalk that pricked his palm and chest, not knowing what to think.
Delilah watched his departure from a window, feeling proud and hopeless and wiping her tears away angrily.
Though no one had called her from work, she drove on in anyway. Maybe someone had died and she could put lipstick on them. "Bright red," she said out loud. "Bright bloody red."
17 July 2018
Prospect, Nova Scotia
Keywords:and, barechested, black, canada, clouds, gleaming, majestic, man, monochrome, muscular, nova, packaged, peak, prospect, roof, roofer, scotia, shingles, sky, stripped, the, to, waist, white