The Roofers by Regina M. Ernst

Editor Matty Byloos, Fiction, November 7th, 2016

"They’re not so threatening now, detached, loose skin, empty of intention."

Regina M. Ernst fiction


During the one o’clock hour, you run a few miles through your neighborhood and count thirteen voices from seven different rooftops. One man calls, and a couple more shout out in accord:

“Where ya headed so fast, can I come?”

“Work those muscles!”

“¡Mami! Mi vida, ¡ven acá!”

You work at night, and you know very well that women who work at night shouldn’t go jogging in the dark because of the potential some sort of assault. You know it happens. You hear about it as much as the next young woman does. You remember its threatening presence during your college years, when you used to brave the nights and jog in spite of your mother’s warnings. There it was—lurking behind bushes and down dimly lit streets. But you can’t get grabbed in a middle-class neighborhood during the day, at noon or two pm, that’s a civilized hour. So you jog during those safe hours and are subjected to male gazes and shout-outs. You’ve gotten used to it, though. And you don’t think it’s so bad, because, whether you admit to them or not, you have your own fantasies.

After your jog today, you return home to your second-story flat, sweat making everything stick. You strip down to your sports bra and a pair of boxers. You’ve got a few hours before work. You use a small paring knife to slice up a lemon that you drop into a glass of rum and ice, giving it a stir. You head to your balcony to relax, because you’ve spotted something through the window across the street—a group of roofers on the neighboring pyramidal rooftop. One straddles the peak, another wipes his face in his shirt, exposing his abs.

You go out, sun on your belly, the breeze dries up your perspiration. You sit on your porch chair and stare, oversized black sunglasses shading your eyes, lemonade cooling your lips. You hear a single, forceful whistle, you see it pushing through pointed lips. Then the whole bunch of them whistles, sounding like wind-up toys.

The rum feels warm inside you. You think of shouting something like, “Fuck off. I live here.” But instead, you slouch in your chair, feet propped on the railing, and you stare through your sunglasses. Their whistles fade out, and you just keep on staring.

You learn their bodies, their surging muscles. They are machines—climbing, pounding, pulling, sweating, busting—and they are yours for the next two hours before you leave for work. You taste your beverage, licking the side of your glass, your tongue running up their chests to their nipples. Nine pairs of nipples in a row for you to lick, pinch, bite. For you to bite right off and chew the rubbery flesh. And muscles for you to squeeze so hard, their arms and legs crumble in your hands. And cocks, of course. Nine hard cocks lined up before you. They’re there, servant cocks, for you to stroke, suck, sit on. What you want is to challenge them, test if these men can keep them hard in the bare sun, balancing on the tiles.

It’s hard to fuck on a rooftop, you’re sure of it, but you’ll try. Another lemonade or two and you’ll try anything. You’ll fetch the paring knife, march across the street, and climb right up that ladder to the third story rooftop, knife clenched between your teeth. You’ll say, “Hey boys!” And you’ll fuck them all, one after the other. Commit a couple daytime rapes. For the pathetic ones who whine, who become nervous and can’t come, can’t even stay hard, you’ll put that little knife to use, the perfect tool for such intricate work, slicing, peeling. The shock stuns them so they can’t move. Mouths hanging open like loose pockets, it almost seems like they want it. You’ll collect their cocks, put them in a sack over your shoulder and say, “Catch ya later, boys! ¡Chaito!” Then, you’ll climb down the ladder, leaving them stunned, forever humiliated. No one will believe them. At home, you’ll pull out each severed cock, put them on display to marvel at your power. They’re not so threatening now, detached, loose skin, empty of intention. And you’ll win with your flaccid cocks. You’ll gather them up, lock them in your freezer. And you’ll wait, however long it takes, for them all to melt away.

From your porch, you stand, sip your lemonade, then give a crisp whistle for the roofers before heading inside to get ready for work.

“You hear? ¡Mami habla!” one shouts from under a red baseball cap.

You hesitate to turn to the door, stand there glaring at the group silently, and you watch as their smiles slip off their faces, off the roof altogether.

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Header image courtesy of Mike Chan. To view his photo essay, “Chance Enounters,” go here.

Regina M. ErnstRegina M. Ernst studied her MFA in Fiction at the University of Nevada, Las Vegas. She has had flash fiction published in Portland Review, Adult Magazine, and Queen Mob’s Tea House. She currently lives in Philadelphia.



Matty Byloos

Matty Byloos is Co-Publisher and a Contributing Editor for NAILED. He was born 7 days after his older twin brother, Kevin Byloos. He is the author of 2 books, including the novel in stories, ROPE ('14 SDP), and the collection of short stories, Don't Smell the Floss ('09 Write Bloody Books).