Thursday, April 27, 2006

Neighbor

Well but so let's say it's a beautiful spring morning, juicy tips of green on trees like a baby's eyelashes, and you peek your head out the door to greet your husband with his orange juice and the newspaper on the porch. And he's talking to a man on the bottom of the stairs, a miserable leprous apparition of a man, with a sad secret mouth and eyes of howling need with red spots in the very center of each. The man on the stairs is asking for money and although he's standing on the very bottom step you can feel the tendrils of his desperate need reaching and curling up the stairs and through the porch and around the whole house. Your husband looks at you and you say "Hi" and he says "Hi" then you look at the man on the stairs and you say "Hi" and he says nothing. You are wearing a loose blue cotton skirt and your arms are bare. He looks at you with a shadow of desire hidden behind a wall of sorrow and then he turns to your husband and he says, a statement not a question, "So that's your..." Your husband says, "Yes. That's my wife." There's a pause, three people on the porch and the sunshine and the wind in the leaves. Your husband says, "I'm sorry my friend, you have to go." The man on the stairs says, "Well do you know any place - any place to go?" Your husband says, "No, I can't help you." The man on the stairs turns and walks away without looking back, and you watch him and then you look at your husband and he looks at you and you say, "But - I think I know some places he could go - there's the church on Harvard St - or the Quaker Church in Dupont Circle - " and your husband says "Forget it." You glare at him and slam the door as you go back into the house, and a few minutes later he follows you in. "Did you just slam the door on me?" "I wanted to help him. He was so sad." "Why do you care so much?" "Because he was miserable and we are happy." "That's what you need to live with in a city. You need to shield yourself, or you'll never survive." "But there's so much pain in the world." "Look, if you care so much why don't you make him a sandwich?" "How can I find him?" "He told me where he was going. He's with his mother, sitting in front of the bakery, a block away." "He's with his MOTHER?" "That's right." So you very noisily and angrily open the fridge and begin packing last night's leftovers into a carton. "You're giving him my lunch?" You glare. "That's right." "That's ten dollars for me to buy one." You glare. "Fine, I'll make him a new sandwich." "I was only joking." You continue making the new sandwich and he does not stop you. You pour some peanuts into the lunch carton and pack it into a bag and start and then you go back and put the whole jar of peanuts into the bag. You glare at your husband in case he noticed this. Then you head for the door. "You're going without me?" "I didn't think you wanted to come." "Well, you thought wrong." You slip on your flip-flops and walk outside. Your husband follows, still in loose pajama pants. As you both walk down the lane with the sun on your hair you must look a handsome couple and your neighbor the English professor waves a greeting. "Beautiful morning!" You smile at him, the white-lie expression of a polite neighbor, and continue walking. There's a teenager listening to his Ipod in front of the bakery and a few friends chatting in front of the nearby cafe. Other than that nothing but a yellow dog wandering down the dusty street. Your husband shrugs. "Gone, just like that." You say nothing as you both walk back to the house. "I wish I'd talked to him more, gotten his story," your husband says. Still your icy silence. "I don't think you understand, I was talking to him until you came out, but then I wanted him to go away. I wanted to protect you."

Well but so how are you supposed to feel about that?

2 Comments:

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Blogger wow9gamer said...

I don't think you understand, I was talking to him until you came out, but then I wanted him to go away. I wanted to protect you."
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2:05 AM  

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