“Bunny, Bunny,” I called from the roof.
Hearing her name, Bunny turned in the direction of my voice.
“Fannie, honey, I can hear you, but I don’t see you,” she said with her refined Texas accent. Shading her eyes she scanned our yard.
I jumped up and down waiving my arms. “I’m up here. I need your help.”
“What on earth are you doing up on the roof?” she asked walking up our driveway.
“Never mind that now,” I said in desperation. “Can you prop the ladder back up? I need to take a wicked pee and I don’t know where Richard went.”
Laughing, Bunny picked up the ladder and positioned it against the roof. “He’s in my backyard talking with George. I believe you owe me a story, my damsel in distress.”
“Distress doesn’t begin to describe it,” I said hurrying down the ladder. “I’ll be right back.”
Running into the house, my hat fell off. I could hear Bunny gasp as the door closed behind me.
After raising the water table in our drain field, I rejoined Bunny in the front. She stared at me shaking her head. Her lips couldn’t decide whether to smile or frown so they split the difference.
“Fannie, I know we haven’t known each other that long,” she said with hesitation, “but I have to know. What on earth happened to your hair?”
“Ah, yes, the crew cut,” I said putting the hat back on my head.
“If you and Richard are trying to do the cute couple matching thing, you’ve carried it a bit too far,” she said her blond pony tail dancing in protest behind her head.
Laughing I said, “No, I hadn’t planned on matching my husband’s hair style. Although I know there is precedence for it in my family.”
“What on earth possessed you to buzz your hair?”
“Every year, we clean the moss from the roof. It usually takes about a week.”
Looking at me like I’d come unhinged she said, “honey, that’s no reason to butcher your hair and why isn’t Richard up there cleaning the roof?”
“Funny that’s what Suzy said when she refused to cut my hair until I told her the story. Now will you let me finish?” I asked laughing tipping my hat back so I could see her without craning my neck.
“Sorry, go ahead.”
A cloudless sky met the sun as it rose over the trees. The dark gray garage door opened letting in the sun’s first rays. Richard carried out the six foot folding ladder. I followed carrying the leaf blower and extension cords.
Richard opened the ladder under the gutter of our single story home. Attaching the extension cord to the leaf blower, I wrapped electrical tape around the connection. Working our way through the cords, we created a 200-foot life line for the blower.
Richard climbed the ladder stopping near the top. Towering over the roof he asked, “Will you hand me the leaf blower?”
Passing the leaf blower he set it on the roof in front of him.
“Fannie, when I get up here, I want you to feed me the cord.”
I braced the ladder. Richard stepped onto the roof. The wood groan and creak.
“Oh crap,” Richard said moving away from the soft spot. The roof protested with every step.
“Fannie, I know your uncle said this was a twenty year roof and we have a couple more years before twenty,” Richard said climbing back onto the ladder. “But if I stay up there it might not last the day.”
“How hard can it be to clean a roof?” I asked smiling, “come on, I’ll do it this time.”
“You’re sure about this?”
“Just hold the ladder,” I said climbing to the second to last rung before stopping. Looking at the two foot gap between the top of the ladder and the the roof I said, “We’ll need a taller ladder.”
“Milo, if you loved me, you’d jump,” Richard said laughing.
“My name’s not Milo and you’re not Jim Carey.”
“Fine, I’ll get the other ladder.”
Richard extended the ladder and leaned it against the gutter. I climbed onto the roof.
“Now, a few safety precautions,” Richard said looking up at me. “I’m going to feed some of the extension cord up to you. Loop it around the chimney, the last thing you want to do is fall off the roof because the cord slid off and took you with it.”
“Got it, anything else?”
“Yes,” he said, “under no circumstances are you to climb down that ladder by yourself. I’ll be working around the yard, you get my attention and I’ll hold the ladder for you. And Fannie, be sure you know where you are on the roof at all times, I don’t want to lose you.”
I smiled at him. “You have my word.”
Richard fed out the cord as I worked my way up to the chimney. Looping the cord around it, I gave him the thumbs up.
I picked up the leaf blower. A power tool, not the Husqvarna chain saw, but a power tool none the less. Pressing the power button the leaf blower roared to life. Twigs, leaves, small cedar boughs, fir and pine needles flew from the roof in a sweeping arc.
From the corner of my eye, I could see Richard watching from below leaning against a tree shaking with laughter. He told me later I was singing off key at the top of my lungs.
Two hours later, the roof turned moss green as a brown ring of debris surrounded the house. Unwrapping the tape connecting the extension cord to the blower, I lowered the blower to Richard.
Richard picked up the power washer. Climbing the bottom rung of the ladder, he placed the washer on the roof with a dull thud.
“Fannie this is heavy,” he said, “I want you to lean it up against one of the vents so it doesn’t slide off the roof with you.”
“I’ve never used the pressure washer before,” I said admiring the shiny red and black case with optional tool caddy.
“It’s easy, I’ll walk you through it,” he said with a wink, “it’s easier to start than the chain saw.”
Grabbing the handle with one hand I lifted the unit onto it’s wheels. Grasping the handle with both hands I walked backwards up the roof, perspiration forming on my forehead.
“Richard, this is heavier than it looks.”
“Yes, I know. Just be very careful.”
Resting the washer against the first vent, I wiped the sweat on my shirt sleeve.
“Okay, what now?” I asked.
“You need to attached one of the nozzles and figure out which one will work best for you. Once you have it attached, I’ll turn on the water and you can test it.”
Pulling a wand from the caddy I attempted to attached it to the spray gun.
“What am I doing wrong?”
“You’re trying to attach it backwards, turn the wand around, it will slide into the key holes then twist it to lock into place.”
With nozzle attached Richard turned on the water. Turning the power dial on the washer, the pump roared for a moment then fell silent.
Looking at Richard, I asked, “is it supposed to do that?”
“Yes, once the chamber is filled with water, the motor will only run when you squeeze the trigger. Give it a try.”
Possessed by the spirit of a gun maul, I grasped the spray gun and let water fly. Giant chunks of moss flew through the air and bounced down the driveway.
Pausing for a moment, wearing the biggest grin of my life, I said, “I may never come down.”
“Yes you will, you’ll have to pee eventually,” Richard said laughing.
“Kill joy,” I said grinning. “Hey, while you’re down there, I noticed the bathroom sink is sluggish again. Do you mind fixing it?”
“No problem,” he said, “I’ll only be gone a couple of minutes. Just don’t fall off the roof while I’m gone.”
I have no talent for billiards or geometry thus when I reached the roof hip, I found myself covered in wet moss and grime. Raw experimentation stopped the spa treatment. Water and mud dripped from my hair, face and clothing back onto the roof via my sloshing shoes.
Richard walked into the front yard to check on me. Laughing he said, “Wow, Miss Spunky, I can’t leave you alone for ten minutes before you go all commando on me. Great disguise by the way.”
Turning sideways I asked, “Can you see me now?”
“Well, how about we call it a night and you come down and get cleaned up before you scare the neighbors?” Richard asked smiling.
“Sure,” I said, “if you could bring me a towel, I’ll leave the wet stuff in the garage before I climb into the shower.”
After my shower I grabbed my comb. As I raised it to my head, I noticed a gray film on the tines. Using liquid dish soap I washed the comb. It would not come clean.
Richard walked into the bathroom as my frustration peaked.
“Fannie, what’s the matter?”
“I can’t get my comb clean and I don’t know what’s the matter with it,” I said holding the comb up to the light.
“Well, since you were up on the roof I didn’t want to leave you by yourself too long. I couldn’t find the unclogging tool, so I used the next best thing. It really is the best sink unclogging tool ever.”
Heaving a sigh, I ran my fingers through my hair and threw the comb into the garbage.
“Richard, we discussed this the last time you did this. You could have waited until I was off the roof,” I said shaking my head.
He said, “if you don’t want me to keep using your comb then we should get an unclogging tool for each of the sinks.”
“Fine,” I said laughing, “I know how to resolve this, you’re giving me a crew cut right now.”
“No way, your mother and aunt nearly skinned me alive the last time I did that. Why don’t we just run to the store and get you another comb?”
“Because I don’t want to repeat this again,” I said shaking my head.
“I’m not doing it, you’ll have to do it yourself.”
“Okay, I’ll call Suzy and get a crew cut in the morning.”
Walking into the kitchen, I dialed Suzy at home.
“Fannie darling, I can only imagine this is a true hair emergency if you’re calling me on the hair hotline,” Suzy said sounding amused.
“Suzy, I need a crew cut.”
“Fannie, there is no reason on earth why I should butcher your hair like that, I won’t do it. Besides, your mom and aunt would never let me hear the end of it.”
“Suzy, Richard used my hair comb to unclog the sink again. I couldn’t get it clean so I threw it away. So either you cut my hair or I will.”
“Come in before I open tomorrow morning,” she said sighing.
A lone pink and white Cadillac sat parked in the reserved space outside the pink and white building with the cursive sign reading Chantilly Manor. Wigs of every description graced the display windows draped with off-white lace. Large french doors with polished brass knobs crowned the entrance.
Walking through the door the familiar scent of hair spray and perfume greeted me like an old friend.
“Fannie darling, I’m so glad you called me,” said Suzy in her pink and white smock from behind the counter batting her oversized black lashes at me. She wore a matching pink scarf rolled into a thin tube tied over her head augmenting her blond bouffant. In a conspiratorial tone she said, “I’ve been thinking about this since you called me last night and I have a plan of action.”
She reached behind the counter. Pulling out one of her signature pink and gold plastic bags she handed it to me. Puzzled I opened the bag. Inside was a blue professional grade rat tailed comb and a Zip-It Clean drain unclogging tool.
“Suzy, thank you,” I said surprised by the gift.
“The comb is dishwasher safe. I figured you would rather have blue than pink,” she said. “When Richard does this again, you won’t have to throw your comb out,” she said smiling, the lines around her dancing brown eyes deepening. “And when you’re recovered, you can grow your hair out again. Now let’s get this over with before I change my mind.”
Bunny stared at me for a moment. “I’m not sure if I should laugh or be revolted,” she said.
“I’d recommend laughing,” I said with a wink.