As a rule, I hate having my front door open; folks are too nosey and I like to not wear pants in the house. Not to mention, my neighborhood is run by a group of old-school kids who play extremely hard and one little boy has some sort of affinity for following me to my door. I have to keep him out. Them out. Their noise to a minimum.
Another reason I won’t leave my screen door open is the descent into addiction of one of my neighbors. Over the last two summers he’s lost his wife and thirty pounds, but gained a monkey on his back and a gang of junkie friends. Friends, who do shit like knock on his door at 6 a.m. for hours while he sleeps off yesterday’s high. Friends, who get into arguments close to midnight over money and other addict nonsense. Friends, who are oblivious to the children and families who are neighbors of their current trap house and will likely find themselves on the business end of my anger one day.
The knocking has replaced the yelling he and his wife used to say good morning to everyone with at 7. It didn’t make sense at the time; he seemed like a hardworking man, who played with his youngest daughter before he went to work and his oldest when he came home. Then, he started coming home later and later. The fighting became less frequent. Finally, a hot Saturday morning last summer found the wife and family members making a quick getaway with nearly everything, including the blinds.
All that was left was his big-ass TV and the couch, where he spent the next few days and nights. It didn’t take long to see what was really going on. A few women started coming around at all hours of the night, usually followed by some dudes you don’t leave anything valuable around. Initially, I thought he was relishing his new bachelor pad, but after a day or two, it was obvious that he was using.
When I look back, there were signs: those early-morning arguments, the family car that disappeared and was replaced by a hooptie, which was wrecked on our street in a bizarre accident. Yeah, that accident never made sense, it was nearly impossible for a car to hit his car head-on where he was parked. Plus, a dude got out and ran, leaving his girlfriend to deal with the cops.
Dude’s been on the aitch for a minute!
That monkey on his back is now a gorilla. He doesn’t look the same, he doesn’t talk to his homie on the corner anymore and left his house the other morning without closing his door. He got all the way around the block before he realized and came running from a different direction. Apparently he’s still getting up for work every day and paying his mortgage, but he’s deep into his addiction. I worry about the company he keeps, not because I think they’re going to break into my house, but for the fact that his immediate neighbor is in her 80’s and she doesn’t need to have this type of exposure. However, when I asked her was she disturbed by the prolonged knocking last Sunday, she misheard me in her oldness and rejoiced that a family with four children moved out that morning.
Then, I remembered she most likely lived in Germantown during the heroin and crack years, so a few junkies weren’t going to trouble her. Not me. I have a wife to look after and I left my last house because of the changing tide of the neighborhood, so I’m online daily sending the police tips. But they haven’t shown up yet. I’m out the window like Malcolm, memorizing features, getting descriptions of everyone and Twelve has not shown up. Hell, I even put my e-mail address on the tip sheet, but haven’t heard a damn thing back.
I generally sit in my car for two minutes when I get home, listening to ESPN Radio or waiting for a song to finish. Today, I watched him as he shuffled down the sidewalk: dejected, depressed, wondering what his life has become?
Ten minutes later, there was a knock at his door...