Haibun Today

A Quarterly Journal
Jeffrey Woodward, Editor
Volume 4, Number 2, June 2010

Glenn G. Coats
Prospect, Virginia, USA


Common Ground

Wayne did not want or need a helper. He worked best alone and that is what he told my father. My father (the owner of the garage door business) told him in return that his son had a family now, two young children and no classes to teach that summer, and no ifs, ands, or buts, I would be Wayne’s helper.

evening swallows
I try out the weight
of a new hammer

The work was divided in half. My job was to fasten the hardware and locks to the garage door sections then stack them: bottom, lock, intermediate, top, in each garage door opening. Wayne took care of the vertical and horizontal tracks as well as the torsion bars and springs. I wrote down the instructions I was given in a notebook that I left open at each new job site.

no lessons
key in the lock
upside down

A few weeks passed and I had peppered Wayne with every question I could think of. He smoked menthol cigarettes and answered with a few words. Wayne ate no lunch and if the tracks were ready before my sections, he lay down on the concrete floors and slept for twenty minutes while I caught up.

late June
a pocket of cool
close to the floor

Midway through that summer and we were installing a large door. I struggled to stack sixteen foot sections in an opening. Wayne was taking a nap. I woke him when all of the sections were in place and he stood and stared for a time at my work. He told me the glass section was in wrong after he never showed me the correct procedure in the first place. “What is wrong with you?” I yelled. “What in the world did I ever do to you? I am here for a month then I’m gone, back to teaching, out of your hair, and you can’t even hold a conversation.” I went on and on like a lawyer filling the air with words.

Afterwards, Wayne and I took the door apart, changed a few hinges around and bolted it back together. On the ride home, he spoke for a long time about his wife and his three children. We were in no hurry to reach the shop.

afternoon shadows
tension keeps the doors
from falling down




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