Rain was getting in. A lot of it. And there was evidence of bats. And when I asked you why it was so damn expensive, you cited careful measuring, a high- quality cap, an exacting process. So I did it myself. I borrowed a thirty-foot ladder, which, at full extension, was barely tall enough. I clipped the cap to my belt, glanced up — a makeshift prayer — and ascended step by step, looking straight ahead at the brick in front of my face. With each slow step I felt the ladder bow inward, but I climbed higher until there was no house, just chimney, then even higher, as if I were the sun having finally risen. Listen: the roof sloped away below me at angles hitherto theoretical, and, as I screwed the cap on, I dared to lower my eyes and glimpsed my neighbor and his wife — tiny down there — pulling at the edge of a blue tarp mounded with fallen leaves. And, feeling braver, I turned my head and saw another neighbor standing in his yard, gazing up at me, likely wondering if I’d fall or how I could be crazy enough to do that without someone bracing the ladder. And in that moment I also saw myself, from the ground, just as he saw me: a man way up high making some inscrutable repair to his chimney, a little guy poised above the neighborhood, the kind of guy, maybe, who does things like that — practical, taciturn — who, when handed an impossible task, shrugs and gets to work. That’s right, the sort of guy I am not, not even remotely, with all my bellyaching and fears. Have I mentioned that my hands were, by this point, raw from scraping against the brick? I wiped them on my shirt and realized, as I tightened the last screw, that people talk, and soon all my neighbors would understand that I was the one who had done this work. And so I descended the ladder feeling very much like the type of man I have, for a long time, wanted to go to bed with. And you with your outrageous estimate — you inspired that. And for that I would happily pay you your five hundred bucks.