The Soul of Mankind
I like children; I’ve always said they’re the soul of mankind.
A few days ago, Ruth Smith moved into the complex with her eight-year-old twins — a girl named Sally and a boy, Damian.
Damian soon discovered the possibilities our large flat roof had for fun.
Since I am the Roof Monitor it was my duty to talk to Mrs. Smith, a single mother, about the dangers Damian could get into if he continued playing on the roof. (We have a three-story building and there are no guardrails.)
“Damian won’t listen to me,” she said. “Do you mind speaking to him? You’re a male and Damian listens to guys better than to women.”
“I’ll talk to him. But what if he doesn’t comply with our roof policies?”
“Give him a spanking if you think he needs it,” said Mrs. Smith. “You have my permission.”
The next day I heard footsteps on the roof. I climbed the backstairs and located Damian building a cage behind one of the air conditioning units. The lad had a hammer and some planks and roll of chicken wire.
“Hi, Damian, how’s it hanging?” I asked.
“Fine, Mr. Summers. Can you stretch this chicken wire between these two poles so I can nail it in place?”
“Well, Damian,” I said. “The roof is a common area and it’s restricted. That means the only people allowed up here are workmen and they have to be very careful because the surface of the roof is fragile and if you step on it when it’s too dry, it will crack and then we’ll have leaks during the rainy season.”
“I know about that,” he said. “I read the note you sent my mother when we first moved in. She said she thought it was kind of weird that you called yourself the Roof Monitor. She thought you were nuts.”
“She did?” I asked.
“Yeah,” said Damian. “We saw you the other day in a track suit that had Mr. Roof Monitor written on the back of it. What was that all about?”
“Someone has to be in charge of the roof and the board of directors asked me to do it. The track suit is just a joke.”
“I don’t see people laughing when you wear it. They talk about you behind your back. They say you’ve lost it.”
“I don’t think anyone talks about me behind my back. I think the residents appreciate what I do,” I said. “And what I do is try to keep this roof from being damaged. You can’t build cages up here.”
“I’m not hurting anything, Mr. Roof Monitor.”
“Don’t mock me. I am an adult and you are a child and I am telling you that you can’t build things on the roof. It’s dangerous.”
“It’s only dangerous if you fall off or if you piss me off,” he said.
“My, you’ve got a dirty little mouth,” I said.
“Yeah, what are you going to do about it?”
“Your mother told me I could give you a spanking. How would you like it if Mr. Roof Monitor turned you over his knee?”
“Lay one finger on me and I call the vice squad,” said Damian.
“Go for it,” I said. (There was no way a child was going to intimidate Mr. Roof Monitor.)
“If the cops come here, you know what they’ll do?”
“They have little dolls and they’ll ask me to play with them.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“You ever see those dolls?” he asked.
“You can undress them — they’re anatomically correct — I’ll peel the clothing off the adult doll and I’ll show the nice police people what Mr. Roof Monitor was doing with his winkie.”
“What are you talking about?” I asked.
“Seven to ten years in a federal prison, Mr. Roof Monitor. Or should I call you Mr. Short Eyes?”
“I wasn’t really going to spank you,” I said.
“Are you going to help me build this bird cage?”
“I guess we could make an exception,” I said. “I guess if you want to raise pigeons it couldn’t hurt.”
“I never said anything about pigeons.”
“What kind of birds are you going to have up here?” I asked.
“Ravens, Mr. Roof Monitor,” he said. “Is that okay by you?”
“Yeah, I guess. You’re kidding about calling the vice squad, aren’t you?”
“Sure, just like you were kidding about spanking me?” he said. “Cut this chicken wire.”
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