when i was a young kid about middle school age, my family used to build houses. we built about 5 or 6 houses in the mountain, entirely by our selves, just my dad, my brother, and yours truly. the first house we built, we had limited skills, and had to hire an occasional person to help teach us how to do some things. like my dads plumber friend who used to smoke pot in the truck as we all drove u to the building site. the drywall guy who was like a robot with a beer, cigarette, and a hammer. then there was rg the brick mason. i used to think his name was archie, but one day i saw how it was written, and changed my pronunciation before he noticed. i never used to really call him by his name anyway, because i was always a little afraid of him.
rg was actually a nice guy, but was very coarse. he talked to kids like he talked to adults. he talked to adults like he was in a small bar in the middle of hell. he was about 75 years old, big pot belly, and he swore a lot. he referred to everyone as “sarg” [with a j sound]. “how’s it going sarg?”, “hand me that hammer sarg”. regularly used words like son of a bitch, cock sucker, and mother fucker…etc. my brother and i used to laugh, because we couldn’t use any swear words, and here this guy was using them all. every sentence was packed with profanity.
we hired him to do our fire place. he was kind of old so we did most of the hard work and rg just laid the brick. my brother mixed the mortar, and i would carry buckets of mortar and bricks up the scaffold and give them to rg. i really liked doing this, because it was a little bit challenging and dangerous. when we got near the end we were over 20 feet up. rg was up at the top cursing and swearing by himself. i guess me and my brother were a little too quiet for him, and he needed to talk.
the chimney was almost done and i was carrying one of my last loads. as i dropped off the last pile of mortar, i asked rg if he needed anything else. rg said, “i need five more bricks sarg!”
i looked at his pile of bricks and could see that he had 2 bricks in his pile, and one in his hand. it was a long way up the scaffold and i was getting a little bit tired. i didn’t want to make any mistakes, so i asked him,” do you mean five more bricks including the ones you already have, or five more in addition to the ones you already have?”
rg stopped what he was doing for a second, looked over at me and said, ” i don’t give a fuck how you figure it, just give me five bricks!”
i stood there kind of shocked for a moment, but then realized that i didn’t want to wait for anything else to come out of rg’s mouth. i bolted down the scaffold so fast it must have looked like i was falling. when i got down, my brother asked, “how many more bricks does he need?”
i said, ” i’m not sure but i’m bringing up five!”
this story has stuck in my head till this day. i think of it all the time, and in my head i am frequently saying, “…just give me five bricks!”