SHEET ROCKS

They got a permit in August, put out their no-parking signs, got started in November.  The permit was valid until February.  In February the porta-potty appeared on the sidewalk near his gate.  Spring came, spring went, the hammering continued.  And summer, if one could call it that.  Halloween, the last boom industry in America, took over stores.  He was remarkably patient, even friendly to the guys daily and nightly hogging the parking spaces.   Cement truckers, sheet rockers, the Water Department investigating the mysterious leakage in the street.  The day he dreaded was approaching, dreaded and looked forward to, when they would descend upon his garden to scrape the flaking leaded paint off the 3-storey facing wall.  The painting phase: didn’t that mean it would soon be over?

The day arrived, and with it a crew of young Mexicans, the tribe that does the dirty work all over town.  Plastic rolls appeared; plants disappeared.  A pulley system raised and lowered a metal platform curtained by black netting.  A young man in paint-specked whites took a hit off an inhaler, put on a mask, and went behind the curtain.  The scraping commenced.

One morning, not long after sunrise, if one could call it that, there appeared a mysterious light, as if the smoke of forest fires filtered the sun, but it was not the disaster he was primed to expect but the refracted light from a wall the shade of butternut squash.

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