Thursday, June 20, 2013

What is this neighborhood coming to?

I've written often about my street and some of the people on it. When I first moved in, I noticed the guy in the third house to the north, the one I called Snoop Dog, was dealing drugs. He would throw a ball across the street for his pitbull, Grandma, to fetch, and wait for people in cars to pull up and chat with him. I wrote about how he used to block the street so I couldn't get home, and how we resolved that situation. And later I wrote about the day the SWAT team visited him while I was getting groceries out of my van. Various times I whined
about the noise down there -- how his girlfriend screamed at him out in the street for hours and the irritating back-up beepers on his truck.

About 8 months ago, somebody bought Snoops Dog's big 4-bedroom house for $3000. A few days after Snoop was arrested, somebody came and cleared out all his stuff -- red leather couches, plastic shelves, a cheap entertainment center. Melvin said the owner did a bunch of rehab on it last winter, but it couldn't have been much because I didn't see any of that. It just sits there empty, although somebody mows the grass sometimes.

Art used to live in the second house to the north. Until he got divorced, he and his wife would have huge fights out in the backyard that consisted of him yelling the same thing over and over (I've found it's a cultural thing, the yelling or saying the same thing over and over). "Bitch, you called the police on me. Bitch, you called the police on me. Bitch, you called the police on me. Bitch, you called the police on me. Bitch, you called the police on me .... " In between I'd hear her softly trying to defend herself and probably trying to keep the kids from hearing.

No surprise --they got divorced. But Art's problems didn't end there. He dated a series of young women who turned his life into hell. Instead of Art standing outside yelling at his wife, now these women would stand on his porch and yell at him and pound on his door. At least we think there were several of them. As Melvin said they all looked alike, so it was hard to tell. They would yell the same thing over and over too. Things like, "Give me my son's TV. Give me my son's TV. Give me my son's TV. Give me my son's TV. I'm not going to stop pounding on this door until you give me my son's TV. I know you're in there. Give me my son's TV." Bitches were persistent.

Art finally moved out because of all the women he'd pissed off. Even though it's his own fault for dating women he picked up in an asylum, it's too bad. He'd rehabbed the house, which is reported to have been an overflow whore house at one time, himself, and it's nice inside. But now he can't live in it.

And there were the neighbors on the other side. Loretta, the matriarch with the strong Kentucky accent who always wore a faded, colorless house dress with worn gray slippers, even when she went out to get McDonald's; her husband Lou, who had had a stroke and took short walks with his walker and then his cane; their mini wiener dogs, Mona and Sugar Shack; their daughter Linda; and Linda's son Kevin, who was 30 and used a red grocery cart to haul 5-gallon buckets into the garage where he worked at something all through the night, night after night. Your guess is as good as mine. cough meth cough Teenage boys also stopped by for short visits on the porch with Kevin. And one time I suspect Linda wrote "bitch" on my windshield because she didn't like the way I parked my van in front of my house.

Of course Melvin is gone now. As I was mowing the yard today I felt a stab of grief that he would never again holler over from his porch where he'd been watching me the whole time, "Baby, you shouldn't be mowing that grass. You should have let me mow that grass. You should never have to mow grass ...." It's too damn quiet over there. The gossip died with him, and nobody offers me gin and juice any more. I miss him terribly.

I also haven't heard any random arrests take place out there on the street, like the night some kid on a bike pulled a gun on one of the bike cops. Oh, I am sometimes awakened by a transient couple walking down the street fighting. A few weeks ago a guy was threatening to bash a woman's head in. He thought she was fucking around on him. And then there was the time .... umm .... yeah, I got nothing else.

Oh, I do hear gunshots with some regularity, and sometimes they sound pretty close. But they aren't on my street.

I don't know where they come from, but this summer I've watched a parade of men in wheelchairs go by on the other side of the street. They walk the wheelchairs with their feet. One guy pushes his wheelchair from behind, and then gets in it and walks it other times. They don't seem to live at the halfway house on the corner. Or either of the other halfway houses within a couple of blocks. I dunno. They aren't very exciting anyway, the old men in wheelchairs.

In fact, nothing is exciting on my street any more, because my street has become populated with .... wait for it ..... families with kids. Yep, families with kids outnumber all the rest of us on this street now.

As I said, Snoop Dog's house is empty. Art rented his to a young single mom with two little boys. There was some excitement when she first moved him. Somebody backed into her truck over and over while honking the horn the first night, but not much since then. She's friendly and her boys are adorable.

Across the street from them are 3 houses in a row with kids -- 9 all together. A pair of little girls who just turned 5 came over from a couple of those houses to play with Coraline. I blew bubbles for them and they swung on my porch swing. No guns were involved.

Melvin told me Loretta and Lou moved to Florida, and Linda and her son Kevin moved to a nearby suburb. They visit sometimes, but now Lou and Loretta's granddaughter lives there with her 6-year-old son and a pretty little baby girl. I didn't realize she was pregnant until the baby showed up. But she seems nice, and we say hi when we're both out. I don't like that she lets the baby cry and I can hear it, but I don't suppose that's something I can do anything about. At least she doesn't seem to be cooking up anything in the garage.

The only excitement was the day the little boy and his friend climbed out the window onto their very steep second-story roof and were playing there. They wouldn't get down when Melvin told them, but they did when I yelled at them and said I was going to go get the kid's mom. No police were involved because I haven't seen them up there again.

Now, instead of listening to Snoop Dog's parties or Art's girlfriends yelling at him or police shouting at gun-toting cyclists, I listen to the sounds of children playing outside in the warm summer evenings and the fucking ice cream truck that plays Music Box Dancer over and over and over and over. I hate that fucking ice cream truck.

The family at the end of the street planted a garden in the vacant lot next to them. And the boy next door colors on my sidewalk with pastel chalk.

Everybody is just too damn normal now. I hate to complain, but my stories about this street have dried up. I don't mean to wish trouble on anybody else, but we need some excitement around here -- just as long as it doesn't happen at my house.

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