Posted: Thursday December 27, 2018
‘Tis the season! We have a tradition here at Talon to release a seasonally appropriate M.A.C. Farrant short story every year around this time. This story, “Happy New Year,” will appear in M.A.C.‘s forthcoming book, The Great Happiness, which will be available in Spring 2019.
Happy New Year
The Christian roofer had been phoning us for six years. He had some hope, it seemed, that we would ask him to replace our roof. He phoned every three or four months. One year he phoned on New Year’s Eve.
“Hello,” he said in the slight eastern European accent we’d become accustomed to. “George here. Would you be thinking of replacing your roof in the coming year?”
It was 10:30 p.m. The Rocky Horror Picture Show video had ended and we were hanging around the kitchen, counting down the minutes to midnight. We’d watched the kettle boil and were sharing a tea bag: two cups, one bag.
“Not right now,” my husband said. “I’m sorry, but we don’t need a new roof.”
We were pleasant to George because he was always pleasant to us. “Did he say Happy New Year?” I asked with some anxiety. It had been a lonely New Year’s Eve: the video, the tea bag. No, he hadn’t.
The way we discovered that George was a Christian happened during a call in which my husband, as usual, had turned him down. Then George tried a new tactic, suggesting that we call him when we needed a new roof. “But don’t call on a Tuesday evening,” he said, “that’s Bible study night.”
The fact that George was a Christian interested us: we wondered how far his faith in one day replacing our roof would go. And because we’re not Christians per se, preferring as much as possible to dwell in transience, we wondered what effect his faith might have on us over time. Would the three of us grow old together while our roof grew over with moss? Would we continue to gently tell him, “No, thank you, not this year”?
George’s idea of us contacting him about the roof was short-lived. Before long, his intermittent calls resumed. “What is it,” we asked each other, “that causes George to believe so surely that he will one day replace our roof? And how did we acquire this random person in our lives so that now his calls have become like calls from a long-ago friend, both dreaded and desired?”
Then, after six years, a new thought startled us. The reason that George was phoning about our roof all the time was because this was his job in life – he is a roofer – and to get jobs he calls people up. He didn’t have a personal relationship with us at all, and he wasn’t calling to felicitate meditations on the nature of our lives or, even, to imbue us with Christian beliefs.
When we thought this thought we felt bad. Bad for having so blithely and self-centredly missed the obvious. Bad that for six years we may have strung along an honest, hard-working man. A decent person. We felt especially mean to have done this. Further, we felt that such meanness of spirit may have contributed to our succession of lonely New Year’s Eves, and to our transient existence being, we had to admit, a state less than fulsome.
So on a Saturday morning in late November, and after six years, my husband called him up. “Now is the time, George,” he said.
George didn’t sound surprised or overjoyed to hear from us. He merely said in his usual calm way that he’d arrive at our house that afternoon between the hours of two and four.
When we saw him in person we felt cheered. He looked exactly as we’d imagined he would: small, fair-skinned, mid-sixties, wearing beige work clothes and a baseball cap. His truck was new and very clean, as we knew it would be.
George nodded to us as he climbed his aluminum ladder to the roof to look things over. From the driveway below we watched him poking at the shingles. A while later we heard him whistling “Rock of Ages.”
When we asked him how he was getting on he called down, shaking his head sadly. “You’ll need a complete roof replacement.” He stood on our roof in quiet triumph. “There’s moss on the shingles,” he told us. “There’s terrible rot within.”
By then we couldn’t agree more. For the first time in six years we felt as if a load was about to be lifted from our shoulders. The terrible rot within was about to be removed.
It was a bright day and the sun glinted off George’s glasses as he descended each rung of the ladder. Right there in the driveway, as George drove away with the promise of a new roof before Christmas, we began planning a crowded New Year’s Eve party – loud, boozy, sinful.
Recent news Articles
- Kim Senklip Harvey on the enriching work of translating the n̓səl̓xcin̓ parts of Kamloopa
- Laiwan: WANDER: Toward a Lightness of Being, in Vancouver
- Our Spiritual Lives: A Christmas-y tale from M.A.C. Farrant
- Michel Tremblay's Desrosiers Diaspora series
- Rite of Passage journeys to Talon
- I Saw Three Ships: A Best BC Book of 2019!
- Kamloopa Is Here!
- I Saw Three Ships #1 in Paperback Fiction at McNally Robinson
- Congratulations to Stephen Collis, the 2019 recipient of the Latner Writers’ Trust Poetry Prize
- Governor General's Literary Award Nominees now 30% Off!
- Eight Track Is in the Building!
- People Live Here Lives Here Now!
- Governor General's Literary Award Nominations!
- Spot Pots at a Bookstore Near You!
- No White Picket Fence Arrives In-House
- Just Like We Like It
- Caught Red-Handed with Our Favourite Crime
- I Saw Three Ships Sets Sail
- Flow's Softcover Edition Has Arrived!
- Rita Wong's Public Sentencing Statement
- Happy Saint-Jean-Baptiste Day!
- A poem from Wanda John-Kehewin's Seven Sacred Truths
- Celebrating National Indigenous Peoples Day
- Christine Stewart in conversation with Erina Harris for CWILA
- TISH poets read from their Talon books in North Van
- Redpatch: in house and on the stage!
- Colleen Wagner's moving play, The Living, arrives in-house
- beholden shortlisted for the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize!
- Save the date: Talonbooks Spring Launch!
- "more horse statues": a poem from Nikki Reimer's new book, My Heart Is a Rose Manhattan
- Our Great Happiness: M.A.C. Farrant's new book has arrived!
- A Bouquet of Delights: My Heart Is a Rose Manhattan has arrived!
- It's a Big Deal! arrives to mammoth fanfare
- A PEЯFACT way to start your day: poetry from Nicole Raziya Fong!
- Christian Guay Poliquin’s Governor General Award–winning The Weight of Snow Is Here!
- Newly published! Essential early work by the award-winning Carmen Aguirre.
- All Synapses Firing!
- Our first Spring book – Cottagers and Indians – has arrived!
- Roy Miki interviewed by Shelagh Rogers on CBC's The Next Chapter
- "Happy New Year": A Story from M.A.C. Farrant's forthcoming book, The Great Happiness
- Flow flowing out to a bookstore near you!
- A new addition to our library: He Speaks Volumes
- Fall Launch a Resounding Success!
- Talonbooks Fall Poetry Launch is Tonight!
- Stephen Collis launches Almost Islands in Vancouver!
- beholden arrives on Talon's shores
- The Mystery Play in the Wild!
- Fall Drama Has Arrived: 1 Hour Photo and Thanks for Giving!
- The Heart Laid Bare gets a Bookmark on the CanLit Trail
- Cecily Nicholson's Wayside Sang Wins a GG!
- Statement on incident at Vancouver Writer's Festival
- Seven Sacred Truths has arrived!
- Mercedes Eng's Mercenary English has arrived in-house!
- Drew Hayden Taylor Unearths Sir John A's Legacy
- Deni Ellis Béchard's new novel has arrived!
- Finding Mr. Wong Launches in Vancouver Tomorrow!
- All signs point to Treaty 6 Deixis
- Talonbooks Fall Poetry Launch in Vancouver
- Reprints Rolling In!
- The first of our Fall list: Almost Islands and Around Her
- M.A.C. Farrant – three stories at Geist
- The Eyelash and the Monochrome – now IRL and in full colour!
- Talonbooks authors win Jessie Awards
- Pride Month Reading!
- Happy National Indigenous Peoples Day!
- Find Finding Mr. Wong on a shelf near you!
- New Plays in Town: Talker’s Town and The Girl Who Swam Forever
- David McFadden (1940–2018)
- King Arthur’s Night and Peter Panties has arrived!
- Prison Industrial Complex Explodes wins the Dorothy Livesay Poetry Prize!
- Check it out: Checking In!
- Byrne’s Duets grace us during Poetry Month
- Gracie has arrived!
- Same Diff is a finalist for the Griffin!
- Four Talon titles nominated for ReLit Awards!
- Give another cheer for Indigiqueer!
- “This play is dangerously cool.”
- Dead by lightning? We have the cure!
- Montreal Gothic in the house
- [Updated] Job opportunity: Talonbooks needs a Production Editor
- Kuei, My Friend has arrived!
- [Updated] Give a cheer for Indigiqueer!
- Kirton and Eng short-listed for BC Book Prizes!
- Poetry readings across Canada this week
- Poetry on the mountain this Thursday
- Talon plays on stage now in Sudbury, Halifax, Vancouver, Winnipeg, Belleville, New York state, Ottawa, Richmond, and Pennsylvania state!
- Oana Avasilichioaei performs in Vancouver on January 24
- Morse’s ideas of North
- Holiday greetings!
- Daphne Marlatt’s collected earlier poems have come ashore
- Join us for the launch of Daphne Marlatt’s Collected Earlier Poems
- Here’s to fifty more years of Talonbooks!
- Marcus Youssef wins the Siminovitch Prize!
- New poetry in the house!
- Marcus Youssef wins City of Vancouver Mayor’s Arts Award!
- A GG nomination for In Search of New Babylon!
- Marcus Youssef nominated for Siminovitch Prize!
- The Days is a finalist for the City of Victoria Butler Book Prize!
- Talonbooks needs a copy editor/proofreader! Perhaps it’s you?
- Fall fiction is in the house! New novels by Wajdi Mouawad and Philippe Arseneault