“Do you have a ladder?” The salesman suggested. But my mother knew nothing about ladders—that was Horrie’s domain and all he ever seemed to do was fall off them. She was sure they were always borrowed—when he fell Horrie always had someone else to blame.
“I think I can get up there off your table, if that’s okay,” the man offered meekly.
“Oh do be careful,” my mother breathed and I heard them dragging the kitchen table into position. By then however I had found an iron pipe that I could slip under the rafters which lay across the manhole cover and prevented it from being opened. The man heaved on the downside without the slightest effect.
“All right,” my mother sighed. “We’ll just have to wait for my husband.”
With varying degrees of reluctance, we waited.
I knew it would come out badly. I thought of the final rooftop scenes in To Catch a Thief, slipping on the tiles, Cary Grant holding the felon by the hand as she dangled above the crowd far below. Of course, our house had no tiles and the roof was far closer to the ground but… I closed such images from my mind and got down to the matter at hand.