Tuesday, March 4, 2014

Help Wanted

I ran into an acquaintance I hadn't seen in a while recently. She asked me what I'd been up to, and I mentioned I'd bought a house and moved in December. She said she was surprised; she thought I loved the neighborhood I was in. I said I did love it, but I couldn't find the house I wanted there, and that my new neighborhood has a lot going for it.

I didn't mention that one of the things I worried about when I decided to move here was that I wouldn't have as many stories to tell. It was bad enough when Melvin died -- the man was a story-a-day character. My old neighborhood gave me so many stories, I couldn't come close to keeping up with them. Hell, I've probably got a few I'll share this month that I didn't get written before I moved.

My new neighborhood is quieter. A lot quieter. (Except for an abandoned set of wind chimes, but that's another tale.) It's an historic district, with a strong neighborhood association. A lot of the stuff that went on in my old neighborhood would bring the force of the neighborhood down with all feet. For example, here are two photos of the alley behind my old house. (None of this shit is mine.)

And this is the alley behind my new house. Since I've moved in some assholes have dumped some shit in back of two of the neighbors' properties, but the neighborhood association will work with the city to get it cleaned up.

Big difference, right? I'm going to be happy here, no doubt. But sometimes I miss the sounds of fighting in the street or the pounding of the SWAT team beating in a door 3 houses down or my next-door neighbor coming over and asking if he can borrow the spare tire for my van. (No.)

I already love this neighborhood, but I need my stories. A recent experience gave me hope that I will find just as many stories here as I did in my old neighborhood.

Elvira, Coraline and I went out for lunch last weekend at a locally owned Mexican restaurant that's just half a block from my house. As I was driving them home, I accidentally drove down a gated street and had to turn around. (My street is gated too, just like in the old neighborhood.) 

I was saying something about how I'll have to memorize which gates are where, when Elvira said, "Did you see that sign? Why would somebody be advertising for sluts, cunts and whores?"

"What are you talking about?" I asked. We were on a quiet residential street, not in a red-light district.

"In the window of that house back there ... Didn't you see it? There was a sign for sluts, cunts and whores wanted."

I slammed on the brakes and threw my van into reverse. Sure enough, there in one of the windows was a hand-written sign: "WANTED SLUTS CUNTS + WHORES. Based Pay. Flexible Hours."

I started rolling down the window before the van came to a stop. "Get your phone! Get a photo. See if you can zoom in on it. If your camera can't then mine can."

Elvira dug her phone out of her purse ... why was this the one time she didn't have it in her hand? Just as she held it up a hand reached through the mini blinds in the window.

"Hurry! Hurry!" I said as the van window rolled out of her way. "Just take the shot!"

She snapped it just as the hand tore the ad down and jerked it away.

We sat there and stared at the empty window for a few seconds.

"Damn it," I said. "I guess the position has been filled already. What a shame. I could use another income stream.  Oh, well. Did you get anything?"

"Just this." Elvira showed me her phone.

And here's what she got.

Unfortunately I can't sharpen the image enough to read all of what was written on the taped-together pages. No matter though. The point is not what's written there -- or not entirely, because I'd really love to know what the whole thing says.

The point is that this neighborhood will give me stories, just like the old one did. All I have to do is keep my eyes and ears open, and keep Elvira in the passenger seat with her camera ready.

(As I write this I feel so fucking stupid. Why didn't I go back and dig through the trash in the nice clean alley behind that house? I bet I eventually would have found that advertisement ... Or something else good.)

(You know when I'm kidding, right?)

(Or do you?)


  1. I like this picture even better because it has the hand on the sign. It makes it an action shot that is so much more intriguing.

    You will ALWAYS have stories. I have no doubt.

    1. Right? The timing was perfect. If only we'd been closer.