Sunday, September 23, 2007

Haint that a shame, Part X


Our Car Hold, originally uploaded by Blog-Sothoth.

I was back in the old neighborhood Thursday night. My mother-in-law, who lives across the alley from our old place in Towson, bought a gigantic safe, and I helped her son pick it up and carry it upstairs. Ma was like a child at Christmas, and told us in Tagalog that she had a place to put all her treasures now.

The entire back yard at our old house had been dug up and cemented over. The new owners have turned it into a college rental, and added a new bedroom and bath in the basement to cram extra renters inside. They can fit three cars on the new pad, with another space in the garage. It looks like hell.

Ma took us to lunch. As we were getting into the car my brother-in-law saw a crippled mourning dove in the alley. I recognized it because for years it lived under the deck I'd built in the back yard, a deck which had been razed for the new parking pad. At one time we had quite the managerie: a bunny, a family of doves, and a chipmunk lived together under there. I approached the dove to see if he'd broken a wing or leg, but it was obvious he was quite sick. We decided not to pick him up out of fear of infection. As we drove away he flew up onto the half-opened window of my brother-in-law's car. The bird held on weakly for a moment, staring at me, and then fluttered back to the alley pavement.

After a too-big lunch of Chinese at Towson Best we took Ma home. I saw the current tenants of our old house in the backyard, and approached to see how they were doing. There were four guys who looked impossibly youthful. Could they really be eighteen? I told them I lived in the house for eleven years with my wife, and commented that the parking pad likely made life easier for them. I asked if they liked the house.

"Yes," Ryan told me. "But we just had all the locks changed for the second time. Somebody kept getting into the house."

I said we'd never had a problem like that, and asked if anything was stolen.

"No. Whoever it was just opened all the cabinets and closets and put everything on the floor. All our dishes and glasses, all our towels and clothes. It was weird."

Another of the boys, named Jerry, spoke next. "We thought the guys next door were hazing us, welcoming us to the neighborhood with a prank. But it happened once when all of us were over at their place."

I thought of old Willard Bowman, from whose estate we bought the place. He'd loved his azaleas, his irises, his roses, his daffodils and tulips. We'd carefully maintained his plants as best we could, and added more perennials over the years. I remembered all the birdhouses he'd built and hung up, and the flocks of migrating birds who'd swoop in each spring and fall to visit our yard, seeking the seed Willard had put out. All that stuff was now plowed over and buried beneath a six-inch concrete slab. I had a feeling these young college kids were going to have a confounded time getting any sleep.

1 comment:

Steven Hart said...

One of these nights, one of them will round a corridor and encounter twin Bud Girls saying "Come play with us."

Or maybe the scenario will play out closer to "Beetlejuice."