That summer was the hottest on record. Coll hired on a roofing crew run by his old high school friend Bobby. In 2001, shortly after the planes hit, Bobby turned twenty-five and got married so he started telling everyone to call him Robert, but Coll still called him Bobby. Bobby was a savant of sorts. He was good at math and building things, but a heavy dope smoker, and socially inept to a fault. He talked too much and had no tact whatsoever. They re-roofed seven houses that summer. One day while they were rolling out the black tar paper and spiking it down with the staple gun Bobby started in on Coll.
So Coll, you got a girl. She freaky?
You see, fellas, Coll replied to the group, what you have to understand about Bobby here is that he lacks the proper upbringing. As a child he had impetigo and his old man just put him in the garage for six weeks. That and he’s never really liked any woman he’s ever been with, if you can call them women, and so he has no respect for them or other people’s personal boundaries.
Hell Coll, you did let her pee on you, you son ‘va bitch, I can see it in your face. Besides, don’t get all fussy just because you’re stuck doin real work for a change. Where’s all that college got you now, huh?
It was nearly time for the regular three-thirty break when Coll lost his balance and dropped the full four by eight foot sheet of plywood he and Bobby were carrying up the ladder, flaying the skin off of Bobby’s entire right calf. The fight didn’t last long, but it was a good distraction from the heat and the toil. The guys on the crew sensed that to get involved was to cross an invisible but very real line. Hobbling across the yard, Bobby screamed obscenities, and jabbed at Coll with his hammer. The first swing of it missed Coll’s face by an inch, but the second landed good and solid on his left shoulder. Coll balled his fist and in one swipe silenced Bobby, who slowly arched backwards, lowering to the ground as would a slain gladiator. On the way to the emergency room no one spoke, but Coll knew he was out of a job.