The ground was covered with this sort of thing. I know the evidence well. A house neglected while the calendar repeats itself. Not the months. The centuries. I knew the roof was a horror when I bought the place, and fixed the worst part right away — where the rain had pulled up a chair in the kitchen and lingered over coffee, as difficult to banish as any lonely neighbor. The squirrels came and went through the holes, and fought a valiant rearguard action against the dying of the sky in their world. I was as merciless as any dread god, and had to be. I murdered them all and my eyes watered for each one. Such is real life.
I had to go up to a spot that’s not visible from anywhere on the ground in any direction. There’s an octagonal turret on my Queen Anne with a squared-off dunce cap roof for my older boy’s room. The roof didn’t look good or anything where you could see it, but really steep roofs don’t need to be very good — that’s why thatch worked, more or less, before we unleashed the wonder of shingles on the crown of our houses. But I live in a house that the former owners had shingled inside. One must be prepared to find foolishness everywhere.
The back of the roof, away from the street. I crouched in the somewhat complex valley betwixt the main, hip roof; a large cross-gable; and the turret. On my right was three or four layers of roof, gone to various states of reward in the roofshingle afterlife, and on my left was 1901, the first roof the place had ever had, never even attempted in the intervening century because it’s deuced difficult to get to.
As I said, attention must be paid. I was a good manager in my past, better than my circumstances might indicate. No one I’ve met is a good manager. You must become one, as fast as you can, before the world and all its people run you over like a dog in the street. The very worst managers tell the people they manage to stand still while they figure something out. It is the mark of the bad manager breed, generally; coming soon...
I am not young any more. I have a bad back. There is a great deal wrong
with my feet. I am still a bit feebler than I’d like to be from a bout
of Lyme disease. All my neighbors, the nicest people I’ve met in this
world, no exaggeration, passed by and told me to be careful up there, fearing
that I might fall, never suspecting that if one of the bees buzzing
around the chimney took umbrage I’d die right there without ever
making it back to the top of the ladder, never mind the bottom.
I don’t care. Attention must be paid. I’m alive; right here, right now. Are you? Or are you waiting for your manager to make up his mind?