The first to arrive was the boy in blue pants, then the young man in the white sailor suit. They came early, in the dark, and stood side by side in their little mantles of light on the lawn. And later, after the sun rose, others arrived. They came unannounced, uninvited, and lined up under the shade trees, not saying a word, not even a hello. Then, one by one, starting with the boy in blue pants, they began telling their stories—long, sad stories that went on hour after hour. By the time they were done, it was early evening, and their shadows overwhelmed the lawn. And the man who’d waited all day, the one standing so long at the gate, listening, thought at last it was his turn, and he started in from the little pool of the yard light.
The first time it happened he was up on his roof shingling. The second time he was stringing some Christmas lights along the roofline. The neighbors saw a shadow pass the kitchen window, then heard a thump like sack of potatoes hitting hard. Pretty soon it happened so many times people lost count. They’d hear the familiar thump and knew Myron had just tumbled off his roof again. No one could figure him out. How stupid can you get, they said. When he wasn’t falling, Myron was hobbling around town, sporting a fresh cast, some new fracture, his body so broken up no one thought he could make the climb. But there he was, right on schedule, every Saturday hauling the big ladder out from his garage and hoisting the rungs into the sunlight, where he liked to go.