I live in a house on the corner of a two street intersection on the south side of town. My family has never been overly friendly with our neighbor-types, but after a few years in this home, I’ve gotten to know a few of them.
First, there’s Steve. He lives across the smaller of the two streets from me. He’s a drug burnout that the seventies left behind, stuttering and drinking the day away. Day by day, he sits at the old wooden picnic table under his old oak tree next to his family’s 1978 Chevy pickup drinking can after can of some cheap domestic beer. Usually around 3:00 PM, he runs out of his brewskies and walks the two blocks to Walgreens for more of his Old Milwaukee. Whenever I see him, he’s already downed a case or two. This, coupled with his old partying days causes him to slur his speech and results in a certain incoherency between his brain and his mouth. So, whenever you see him coming, you’d best get in the house to avoid uninteresting, nowhere-bound conversation.
Next to him lives Gary, Steve’s brother. Gary is a 50-something year-old bachelor, aside from the fact that he lives with their mother. Gary is a mailman who owns a nice Harley. However, he only rides the cycle on Saturdays for about an hour. All the other time he carts around in his mail truck or Steve’s old, clanky pickup. Gary does most of the yardwork for his family and when he does so, he wears the same 30-year-old white shorts that come to about eight inches above his knee. It’s not a pretty picture.
Next door to my house lives the ancient Mrs. Elsie Grecko. When my mom was a kid, any balls accidentally thrown into her yard were gone. Forever. After her husband died, she took to tilling the land in her yard with a rake. Every day of the year, the old leather-like sack of skin would sag outside, rake in hand, and start beating. And beat the land, she would, until evening falls. She still does this every day, every so often stepping back to eye her work. At times, she can achieve a nice criss-cross effect in the dirt that used to be her yard with her rake marks, but that’s only if she’s pounding the land. Sometimes you can spot her whacking her driveway with the rake, but that’s only if she gets bored with her daily land cultivating campaign.
Caddy corner to the Duchess of the Dirt lives the Alexander family, the nicest folks you’ll ever meet. The patriarch of the family is Jim Sr., an ice cream store proprietor. I can only suppose his business isn’t doing well, because of the perpetual lack of cars in the parking lot, but Jim doesn’t seem to mind. Along with every serving of ice cream, you get some soul food to boot. Free gospel teachings, that is. And even if you didn’t want to listen to Jim, you’d have to. The man speaks (although it’s a bit nasally) with an uncommon loud air about him. About anything. The other night I was trimming the hedges in my back yard and he, out of the blue, says, “If you ever need a good grill, I’ll tell you what, you’d best get it from Wal Mart. Oh, it’s great. $57.90, already assembled. Yeah, best grills in the world. Better, even, than Home Depot! Seriously, you should get one of these grills. Best in the world. $57.90, installed. Best grills in the world up there at Wal Mart. Yeah.”
And across the larger of the two streets is an older couple, and though I don’t quite know their names, I do know what kind of people they are. Dirty rotten scoundrels, they are. The whole lot of ‘em. Since they’re older and unemployed, they have a certain scheme for money. Most every Saturday, they have a garage sale. Not the sort where you have a bunch of crap you need to sell, but the kind where you have the same outrageously-priced stuff that nobody buys week after week. They’re bloodthirsty about what they do, too. They take advantage of your directional signs. They offer to take them down because they use them, and then they leave you high and dry. They suck away the competition whenever you try to clean out your garage and make a bit of a profit. Useless, I say. Out of all of my neighbors, they’re the ones I think I like the least. Harmless drunks, crazy elders, and talkative ice cream salesmen I can take. Cutthroat pack rats? Now that’s another story.comments (9)