“That Got Me To Thinkin’…?” “Our New Neighborhood” Chapter 59
By Bruce Williams
We moved seven months ago into our new house, and slowly but surely we’ve acclimated ourselves to our new surroundings. An even quieter and more private cul-de-sac than before, getting to know the new neighbors has been a slow and somewhat arduous process. Our immediate neighbors to the north have dogs and kids, get lots of amazon deliveries, were out sliding in the snow with us and seem for all intents and purposes to be good, normal folks. They water their lawn and put up Christmas lights. They have house parties and go on vacations. Just the kind of suburbia cliches we’ve subscribed to out here.
A few nights ago, though, our neighbor to the south was making his usual 1:00 a.m. trip to the garbage cans on the side of his house right below our bedroom window. The telltale crunch of gravel beneath his shoes and the routine of dumping his refuse at such an odd hour stirred both Michelle’s and my fervid imaginations. We met this fellow only briefly, when he stopped to pet our dog as we walked past their house. I paused momentarily when he said that he lived there with his parents, yet he appeared to me to be at least a decade older than myself (how the hell old were these Methuselahs?). We’re guessing that he would be the nocturnal depositor, and we took turns hypothesizing about what it could be that he was so clandestinely discarding. “He’s an alcoholic, and he’s hiding the evidence from his parents,” I proposed. “He’s getting rid of porn…” Michelle hissed, conspiratorially—a hint of disgust dropping from her bottom lip. “Do people still buy and dispose of porn—with the internet and all?” I openly questioned. “Weird stuff,” she whispered wide-eyed, nodding knowingly. On that particular night his footsteps seemed to stop just below our opened window—we have AC, but it was particularly stuffy that night so we had opened the windows—it seemed to both of us that he had hesitated below to hover and listen to our conversation, which we thought had been discreet enough but you just never know. We listened intently for movement for a few minutes, then I got up to use the lav. When I returned, there was Michelle in her underwear and one of my old t-shirts slinking in the corner of the window sill, trying to get a peek down at those riveting garbage cans. Soon we figured that he must’ve continued around to the back door onto the mossy lawn, disguising his footsteps from our Clouseau-ery. I immediately began scanning the pedophile registry on our Chromebook (that kept me busy for a half hour—yeesh!) while Michelle slunk back into bed, her nervous anxiety palpable. The thought of checking out those cans the next time their driveway was empty did cross my mind, but then I knew that that was probably something I would get caught doing—and without a very plausible explanation to boot—and it would then be them checking out the pedophile registry on me.
We’ve been walking the dogs up the street where there’s a hill into the adjacent neighborhood—they’re building new houses up there, and I like to Nosy Nellie about on all the new construction. There’s a thoroughfare between two big monster houses at the top—a road with four of those railroad ties stumped end-first into the ground to indicate it’s pure deadendedness. We climbed up the short brushy hillside to the top like we often do, and as we walked up through and between the houses and fences, I spied an older woman on the front porch on the home to our left. I waved neighborly, but she didn’t respond—just stared. We looped up around the circle with the dogs, checking out the construction crews’ progress and then we headed back to the trail going down. I noticed the old woman still standing on her porch with her arms crossed. I waved again—this time verbalizing an “Evenin’!” as we descended the public road next to her house. Again, no response. I shook my head and muttered, “…what’s that old crow’s problem…” After we slid back down into our section, I glanced back up over my shoulder and there she was in her full glory standing arms akimbo in her robin’s-egg sweatshirt, glaring down at us from the four posts like we’d just traipsed through her living room with dog shit on our sneakers. “Jeesh…what’s her deal…” I voiced. “Who?” Michelle asked, confused. “The old bat in the corner house,” I answered, gesturing at her looming presence and beginning to realize that this might be a battle I fight entirely alone.
The road directly below our house is pretty busy. Between the big trucks, mufflerless cars and obnoxious motorcycles, I’m steadily thankful for our climate control and closed windows. There’s fewer pedestrian passers-by than the old house, which is good because Mavis is a yipper and she’s got a lot to say. I’m sure one of my neighbors probably writes their own blog too—ranting about that bald dickhead in the white truck who thinks he’s something special. Actually, I wish that were true—I’d love to read that. In the meantime…kick rocks, you old robin’s-egg sweatshirt, and MYOB.