The Object of Desire
I need to get up on my roof to make a repair, but I don't have a ladder long enough to do it. There's also some loose guttering at the church I go to, and I could fix it if I had a longer ladder.
If wishes were horses beggars would ride.
I guess I could go buy a ladder, but my days of ladder climbing are coming to an end and I probably wouldn't use it again. It would just lay behind the garage for months and months and weeds would grow up around it and look ugly. And my poor wife would have one more thing to get rid of when the time comes to unload her husband's Marley-like burdens. It is a dilemma.
There is a ladder in the neighborhood, close at hand so to speak. It's the one in the picture to the right. It's been propped up against a more or less vacant house for about six months and is just the right length. And it looks light enough for me to grab and carry around the block to my house, or even another block, over to my church home--the one with the faulty gutter.
When I say more or less vacant I mean to say that the house sat empty for several years. The grass grew up about thigh high in the yard and an old Winnebago parked next to it--certainly worth more than the house itself--was covered with grit and dust. I suppose the house was part of an estate that never quite got settled for one reason or another. I imagined warring siblings, or a hard to find heir who might be living incognito in Costa Rica or is habitually drunk in a bar in Mogadishu.
(Sometimes your imagination runs away with you when you live in a small town. It helps to pass the time.)
Then one day, about a year ago, the Winnebago disappeared and the grass got bush hogged. A fence was put up and shingles got carried to the roof...hence the ladder. And then again...nothing. No human beings appeared and I can see no progress on the roof. Maybe they went back to Mogadishu, or are on the beach in Costa Rica?
But they left the ladder, and there the dilemma expands. I want to borrow that ladder for a couple of hours--I promise to bring it back--but it is possible that the neighbors will report me as a common ladder thief and call the cops. Who will haul me off to the hoosegow and throw away the key.
It is possible that exactly that could happen. Jesus would certainly believe the purity of my intention to return what I laid hands on--we'd be good, He and I--but how often have the police heard "I'm just borrowing it! I was planning on returning it!" from shoplifters and rustlers and every other run of criminal? Plenty, I bet. I doubt they'd believe my story.
Then my name would get listed in the Police/Fire Reports in the newspaper, and Eddie Keever would announce my name on KTHS Radio. Consequently, my wife would feel disgraced, and so filled with shame that she'd put our house up for sale; we'd have to move away to New Orleans where we'd eat etouffee twice a week and live among people who don't care if you're a ladder thief or not.
So: that's why I'm not fixing my house.