My friend and I talk about it Neighborhood got decimated this year One after another the corners of community are gone We touch the elder memories as one might touch a head in blessing as loved ones pass
We linger longest over John
Found dead after ten hot days by other-worldly hazmat crew flanked by cruisers with their special, yellow truck and zipper bags
...found 'im glasses folded neatly on the night stand in his jammies all tucked into bed
No one thought it strange that strange young guy would die already decomposing in his head Lost among his personal effects his fleet of rusting cars and half-assed projects Deck tacked to garage his herds of “pets”
Easy to pretend he wasn't really there between jail stints or some imagined threat or theft of crap haunted by the shadows of his persecutors caught in motion lights and cameras' blinding evidence of jungle-jumble and malfunctioning car alarms going off in the wind Everyone's out to get his stuff We could dismiss him--
...except for times he mowed his grass at night or hand-built “the lunatic tower” just for mom from scavenged scraps and hammered hours power-sawed through the housing codes and horror of the neighbors... ...Such a special spectacle...
******* crazy-- John!
He was enough for one day at a time like when
he flung that threatening bolder on his bilco doors for percussive effect
Get off my ******' property!” (not using his “inside voice”) “Next time, that'll be your head!!
He announces his intent to not get mad, behave himself to call the cops on me instead Fake-dialing While his mother screams in dread “John is off his meds!”
My phone is set to speed dial 911 __
“How did we miss this? How did we not miss him those quiet days?”
How we miss him now How quiet
Every neighborhood has one, and I do miss him. John provided endless daily entertainment and angst. Sometimes he was a truly friendly neighbor; sometimes, truly scary. We had many long conversations. My beloved cat, Bailey adored him. I took that as a good sign. John cried when Bailey was found dead. I have entrusted them to each other's care in heaven.
Jesus, forgive John his failures and his torments. I take his place dutifully as the local crazy. :)