CHAPTER THREE- Hurry up and wait.
Comes the dawn, with or without you. It certainly showed up without Barbara or Ray Meadows, both fast asleep until the day was well on its way. Around eight o'clock, Barbara stirred and did a groggy Saturday morning get up. Ten minutes in the bathroom and she was almost awake and ready to head downstairs. Caffeine. Gotta have caffeine. Last night's little adventure was completely forgotten until she wandered through the sunlit kitchen and found the piece of shingle, complete with grass stuck to one corner, on the kitchen table. Dirt and all. Right where Ray left it the night before. Not that many hours before, in fact. She left that charming brown souvenir on the table and started the coffee and breakfast for two. Ray wouldn't sleep much longer. Not even on a Saturday, and especially not the Saturday before April First. There must be more he has to do to get ready.
Truth be told, there wasn't. He was absolutely ready. Picking up that weird Ray II was his last bit of preparation before Monday morning, nine a.m. Or maybe more like nine thirty or so. It depends on how long the C.E.O. is going to ramble on. But, ready or not, Ray was up by eight-thirty, with the smell of coffee and breakfast drifting all the way up to the bedroom. It was definitely time to get up. A quick run to the little Ray’s room and he was out and dressed and ready for- well, maybe not the day- but certainly the start thereof. Jeans, a sweatshirt and some old sneakers. No need to over dress today. He did remember to bundle up his clothes from yesterday and made his way down to the kitchen, bundle under one arm and still rubbing the sleep from his eyes. A late night. And weird, too, as he started to recall.
Ray deposited Friday's work clothes by the door to the basement and sat down hard at the kitchen table. Barbara was ready for him with food and caffeine. At least it wasn't going to be a busy day. Ray thought he could just sit right there for the next two days or so, and that would just fine. Sit right there until Monday morning. Getting too old for these late nights. The coffee was hot and the toast needed buttered. Ray set to work with a knife.
"So that's the infamous shingle?"
Ray had forgotten all about that piece of gritty asphalt, the prize from last night's journey into the unknown. He looked around and found it not far from where he had left it. No doubt about it. That was it.
"Yeah, that's about the size of it. One loose shingle. No big whoop."
"Did it put up much of a fight?"
"I see you had to beat it into submission. Must have been one tough shingle."
Ray had absolutely no idea where Barbara was headed with this. It was a broken piece of shingle. That's all. Wasn't it? Maybe he'd better have another look. Ray reached out across the table and pulled the shingle over to him. Yep, that's the shingle all right. Torn across what must be the back side, where it would have been tucked under the one above it and nailed to the roof. No big deal. Except for that. Didn't see that last night. It was too dark. In spite of the hot coffee and warm toast, Ray couldn't stop a shiver. What caused this?
Across the shingle, diagonally from the upper left toward the lower right, there was a scrape. He hadn't seen that in the darkness, and never turned the light on when he got inside. But there it was, and it sure didn't happen on that kitchen table. This took some serious force. Or a heavy weight. Maybe both. Barbara sat down and looked over at the scarred shingle, now in Ray's hands and being intently stared at by one Ray Meadows.
"So what happened last night? You had to get rough with it?"
"I don't know. I didn't see this last night, but I guess it was there."
"You didn't do that?"
"I don't think so. No."
Ray's mind started to spool up. He was awake now, my