He’s a handyman, a carpenter, a Jack-of-all-trades. I’ll call him John. He is also a writer and a motorcycle-riding trout fisherman. He drives an aging little red truck to his jobs.
John has a never-ending supply of tales. One is about some women he has worked for who were more than just a bit flirtatious. He has never known how to handle that situation. “I’m a bit of an innocent,” he says. One member of our writers’ group dubbed him “Handyman of Love.” He laughed uproariously with the rest of us.
He joined the group because he wanted to rub elbows with real writers and learn whatever he could about writing. After he submitted a story about a motorcycle ride there was no doubt that he’s got what it takes. To this day he insists he can’t write.
Several members are married to men who aren’t very handy, so they hired John. Though my husband used to be able to fix just about anything, his skills are lost to escalating dementia. John has helped us out with tasks big and small over the past eighteen months.
Last summer, during an extremely hot spell, he painted our front door, the window shutters, the carport and installed new gutters along its edges. It was miserable weather for outside work on a brick house that radiates heat like a pizza oven.
The afternoon he finished he came around to the back where Leslie and I were sitting in the shade drinking iced coffee. He refused my offer of something cold. We chatted for a while, and John entertained us with his yarns while I punctuated with shouts that these were the stories he should write. He tries to hide behind the excuse that he doesn’t have a “voice.” I argue that his tales are his voice.
While we talked, he mopped his face and neck with a towel. When he stood up to leave, he said he had to put a clean tee-shirt on. Leslie and I looked at each other. We had no idea why he said that, but he got up, unfurled a shirt he’d had in his lap, and pulled it on over the shirt he was wearing.
He explained. “I’ve got to have a hug before I leave, but who would hug a sweaty handyman?”
“That’s a story, John!” I said, and hugged him back.
I figured he’d never write the story, so I did. Someone had to!