“Made it, Ma! Top of the world!”

Our garage needed re-roofing. I called a roofer.

Sometime last week a stack of shingles showed up in my backyard, near the garage.

This past Satuday three men showed up bright and early to turn those shingles into a new roof.

They worked straight through until mid-afternoon. Roofing on a warm day is a hot job, and I live in South Carolina.

Some time after 3 p.m., the front doorbell rang. The roofer, an older man, told me they’d be knocking off for the day soon.

I said fine.

He turned to leave, but then turned back. Smiling, he asked,   “Are you a writer?”

“I am,” I said, puzzled  at first. It has not been my experience that roofers are great readers – but, to be fair, neither has it been my experience that readers are great roofers. And, frankly, if I were given three wishes, I’d spend the first on do-it-yourself home-repair skills.

“We saw some of your posters in the garage,” the roofer said. “And Tony say he’s read some of your books.”

Tony was one the roofer’s two young helpers, both in their early twenties, I’d guess. The posters were oversized pictures of book covers and blurbs from from readers and reviewers. They come in handy at book festivals in bidding for attention from passersby.

“Tony say you good.”

“Please tell Tony I said thanks.”

“He’d like to meet you. Can you come out to meet him?”

Sure, I said.

Tony smiled from ear to ear as we shook hands at the garage. Then he introduced me to his boss, whose name was given only as Perry, and to his fellow workman, Antonio.

“You working on anything new?” Perry asked.

“As a matter of fact, I’m in the homestretch on a new one.”

“What’s it about?” Tony asked.

“The redemptive powers of rock ‘n’ roll,” I said.

Tony said, “I liked your one about murder.”

Atlanta Blues,” I said.

“That’s the one!” Tony said. He turned to Perry. “You read it?”

“No, but I’d like to.”

“I’ve got a copy or two around here somewhere. Be glad to give you a copy.”

“Will you autograph it?” Perry said.

Sure, I said. Hold on.

Back inside, I found three copies of Atlanta Blues, still nestled in shrink-wrap. I grabbed a pen and scissors, and took the books outside. Leaning on the hood of the pickup truck, I signed three copies: one for Tony, one for Perry, and one for Antonio.

They were happy and I was, too. Couldn’t wait to tell all my friends (both of ’em) that I was, ahem, the favorite author of every roofer I knew.

(top, hardback cover; here, softback cover)

 

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