A Bad Job
The heads were in Barry’s trailer and I noticed them every time I went to drop off the ticket from the lumber yard. For a longtime I thought Barry’s name was Berry. In Colorado that was how people pronounced a name like Barry. I never asked how it was spelled just like I never asked what the arty looking paper mâché heads were doing in the contractor’s trailer. It seemed to me, a kid from the East just out of college, that working men out West said what the meant — no clarifications necessary. So, I called my boss Berry and didn’t say anything about the heads. After a while he told me that, really, his name was Barry, and I should stop calling him Berry.
I heard a crack and saw him drift past the window’s empty frame. He hit the ground hard and a nail went into his left buttock.
Barry was the general contractor for Boa Construction in Aspen. The other people on the crew were Steve and Phil. Steve said his real name was Omer Muchmore and he had a t-shirt from his old illusionist act that said “Magic and Muchmore.” He said that when he’d do his show in Vegas he was known as Muchmore the Magnificent. Steve also said that he’d fought in Vietnam. He said he’d gone over for revenge’s sake after his brother, Robert Muchmore, was killed there. He told me he “thanked God every day that some Viet Cong bastard shot him in the ass” and sent him home with a purple heart. A few years later I was at the Vietnam War Memorial in Washington. I looked for Steve’s brother on Maya Lin’s Vietnam memorial. Nope. No Muchmore on that wall.
Phil didn’t want to be called anything but Phil. He was the crew foreman, which seemed odd to the rest of us. Why did a crew this small need a foreman? At lunch Phil would read the weekly Safety Briefing that came down from Boa Construction’s head office in Boulder. If only we’d gotten the Scaffolding Safety Briefing before Phil had built himself a fragile scaffolding. I heard a crack and saw him drift past the window’s empty frame. He hit the ground hard and a nail went into his left buttock. That was that for Phil.
After Phil’s accident Steve read the Safety Briefing during Friday lunches. Afterwards he and I would sit…