When the weather’s warm I do most of my writing sitting on the small porch outside my front door. Free from the distractions of television and a comfy bed I find I can focus my attention better. And since my doctor recently told me I’ve got a Vitamin D deficiency, the extra sunshine doesn’t hurt either.
Morning comes and I head downstairs with my laptop and coffee and get to work. As the hours pass I watch several of my neighbors come and go – leaving for work, walking dogs, doing yard work, and attending to the other sundry details of life. Several of them wave to me. I wave back. Because they constantly see me outside with laptop and cellphone when normal people are their jobs working, my neighbors probably think I’m a drug dealer. It’s a matter of time before one of them comes over and tries to score some blow.
Because I’m home most of the day I’m very keen to what goes on in the neighborhood. I know when the regular UPS man is out sick, when that cute jogger’s having trouble with her last mile, and the makes and models of all the cars parked on the street. I know the faces of all the landscapers, neighborhood kids, and the tired looking commuters waiting for the bus to NYC. I know the cleaning women on sight as well as the cable guy, the telephone repairman and delivery boy from the grocery store. I’m like that little old lady always staring out the window. If you’re not a regular in my neighborhood, I’ll notice.
As I’m pecking away at the keyboard a strange car pulls up and parks across the street from my house. The driver’s a young kid whose head’s swiveling around his neck nervously. I notice he doesn’t kill his engine. The first thought that crosses my mind is that this kid’s a getaway driver for a burglary team. I know that sounds paranoid, but there’ve been several break-ins in the neighborhood over the past several weeks. The crooks target unoccupied homes during the work day, push in the poor mark’s window air conditioner, and then ransack the house. Since they only take loose items – portable electronics, jewelry and cash – they sound like amateurs. But any cop will tell you, amateur burglars are dangerous. It’s a matter of time before these guys unwittingly bust into an occupied home and someone gets hurt.
The neighborhood gossips seem to think the robberies are being carried out by gang members living in a nearby city. Although the police won’t say the robberies are connected, it makes sense. My town’s fairly affluent so there’s plenty of rich targets. And since we’re bordered by three major highways, it’s easy for criminals to slip in, do the deed, and quickly escape.
Of course parking on the street isn’t a crime and I decide to give the driver the benefit of the doubt. But when I casually look up from my computer I catch the kid looking at me. When I meet his eye he quickly turns away. Now my suspicions are heightened.
Suddenly a tall blonde kid wearing baggy pants rounds the corner and walks up to the car yelling, “Hey! Do you want me to kick your ass or what?”
The kid in the car starts gesticulating wildly. I can’t hear what he’s saying.
“Look, yo,” the blonde kid yells, sticking his head in the passenger side window. “I told you not to fuck with me.”
I look at the blonde kid yelling profanities. Somehow he feels my gaze, looks up, and stops yelling, Then he drops to his knees until his body’s out of sight. I don’t like that I can’t see what this guy’s doing behind the car. I slip my cell phone out of my pocket and place it on my lap.
The kids argue some more. The driver looks frightened and blonde haired kid’s staring at me though the car’s open windows. I mentally debate calling the cops but decide to wait. No crime’s been committed and I was an angry young man once. I decide to let things pan out.
Soon enough a teenage girl walks up the car, opens the driver’s side passenger door, and gets in. The blonde haired kid shakes his head and climbs into the front passenger seat. There’s more yelling and hand motions. Then all three of the kids stare at me. I look. They look. The girl smiles weakly, Then the driver puts the car in gear and they speed off. I have no idea what they were doing. Maybe I saw two boys fighting over a girl’s affections. Maybe they were fighting over something that happened at school. Or maybe they were amateur burglars upset because they couldn’t find a house to rob. I just don’t know. Part of me doesn’t want to know. Ignorance is bliss.
I return my cell phone to my pocket and turn my attention back to the keyboard. I’ve had enough excitement for one day.