by Carole L. Piller
Mr. Patterson has one of those large ten foot diameter screen patios with the octagon vinyl roof, which makes a nice addition to his yard. To furnish it, he purchased a table, chairs, a chaise lounge with a nice soft cushion, and a television/radio set. It sits next to his garage, so he can have access to electricity and a refrigerator he stocks with beers. He laid a concrete floor and on top of it, installed green outdoor carpet. Mr. Patterson enjoys spending time in the screen house, to unwind after a hard day of work with a glass of wine. Utilizing it as an expansion to his indoor living space, when his friends stop by they drink a few beers and chew the fat in it. It provides a shady spot since lightning struck down the only tree in his backyard a few years ago.
As a conscientious individual, he swears by a certain weed and feed product and because of it, his grass is greener than anyone’s around. At various spots throughout his yard, he has patches of colorful flowers. A few yards away from his patio is a vegetable garden where he grows the biggest red beefy tomatoes, tasty peppers, and green beans. Throughout the summer, he delivers brown paper bags full of his tomatoes to his friends and relatives.
On one of his excursions to the hardware store, he purchased a brand new grill, the type made from a big black drum that was cut in half with the fancy wood platforms on each side for resting your cooking utensils and placing your food on. It doesn’t have the propane tanks, because all black folks know that if you want savory barbequed-favored meat, it must be prepared on an outdoor grill using charcoal. Just the thought of it makes you crave for some mouth watering ribs!
Occasionally, when there has been a blustery rainstorm, the octagon vinyl roof of the patio would detach itself and fly off. It has blown off at least five times since he purchased it. The first year it flew out of the yard, over the fence, and landed in the alley. In flight, it resembles a full blown balloon that escapes from your mouth before you have a chance to tie it. The vinyl roof has undergone numerous repairs, including placement of duct tape for rips and tears, and each time he secures it stronger than the last time. Just recently, Mr. Patterson gave it a complete overhaul by replacing the flimsy tin poles with sturdy galvanized poles, the ones a plumber would use. Keep in mind, he replaces all the eight foot poles to the vinyl roof and that its appearance is the same as the underside of a huge umbrella.
This last thunderous storm is so fierce that it causes his neighborhood to lose electricity, uplifts trees, and stirs up flying debris. Without electricity Mr. Patterson’s alarm clock does not go off, but fortuitously, he awakes in time to get ready for work without being late. This is the umpteenth time this year that he has lost electricity, and it seems to him that something should have been done about the electrical transformers to reduce the frequency of him losing power by now. After a previous storm, he lost electricity for several hours. He went to the store and purchased seven bags of ice so he would not lose any food in his refrigerator and freezer. A half hour after he returned home with the ice, the electricity came back on and he was stuck with seven bags of ice.
Running late because of the lost of electricity, he exits his house. He notices that the wind from the storm has ripped the screen house apart. It is lying on the ground among his flowers and the vinyl roof is no where in sight. “Damn,” he curses because he doesn’t have time to search for it. Opening the gate to his backyard, he walks down the alley to search for the humongous thing, including the recently replaced eight foot long galvanized poles. As he walks down the end of the alley, he looks in each of his neighbors’ yards. Not finding the vinyl roof, he bypasses his yard and walks in the opposite direction of the alley in search of the darn thing. On the street, off the alley, he finds the octagon vinyl roof perfectly spread out, covering two confounded cars in his neighbor’s driveway! But where in tarnation are the eight foot long galvanized poles?
After checking for damage to his neighbor’s cars and the property around it and finding everything in satisfactory condition, Mr. Patterson leaves the cursed thing resting on top of the cars and goes to work. His neighbor was out of town, he wouldn’t see the ridiculous thing completely covering his cars anyway.
That evening upon his return from work, he goes to retrieve the vinyl roof, but it is gone! Maybe some kids took it, or maybe his neighbor came home, saw it on his cars and discarded it, he deliberated. He searches in his neighbor’s garbage, but it wasn’t there, besides his neighbor is still out of town. It’s lost forever, he resolved. Frustrated with himself for leaving the roof top out he asks himself, Well where in the hell are the galvanized poles? Blankly staring, he removes his cap, runs his hand over his bald head, and he shakes his head. In his perplexity, Mrs. Smith, the neighbor who lives across the alley approaches him and asks what was wrong. As she listens to him relay his story, she begins to laugh, and the more he relays the harder she laughs, until tears flow from her eyes. Of course, Mr. Patterson doesn’t see the humor in his story because he is out of a roof top for his patio, which is costly to replace it. With his arms folded, he rolls his eyes sarcastically at the silly woman and doesn’t appreciate being ridiculed by her. Mrs. Smith explains through her laughter that she saw a man in a truck collecting junk metal. She recalls seeing a refrigerator, an old air conditioner, and a number of galvanized poles. Finally, able to see the humor in his predicament, good naturedly Mr. Patterson joins in on her merriment and releases a resilient belly laugh.
He contemplates he could order a new roof top to repair the patio, but naaa, that’s out of the question, combating the wind again, naaa, that’s also out of the question; perhaps a fancy gazebo, but that would be too permanent, too large for his yard. It would be better to have a simpler setup, he relinquishes, settling for a nice new patio table with one of those pretty umbrellas.