I really did a good job picking a place to live. When we first moved in it seemed perfect. The houses were nice; people were friendly. The yards were well kept, animals only partially visible or heard, and there were hardly any children to get hit by cars backing out of driveways.
It was perfect.
Bit by bit that picture began to crumble. Our neighbors to the north are college kids like us. Our neighbors to the south hate us, compete with our yard, and call the cops on us. Across the street is one normal house, I assume, the broken home that we call “The Broken Home” and another broken home that is now “Chris’s House.” Dogs bark, kids run and scream, cops hang out, and it seems that the only trash to be taken out is alcohol related.
Our beautiful neighborhood has quickly gone to hell. I suppose it’s fitting, in a way. I tried hard not to believe it, but the second time the cops showed up across the street (for God knows what) I decided to quite pretending that we were fortunate with our streetmates.
There were things that I probably ignored up until that moment. I assume that this always happened, but I just ignored it because it was weird. I assume that they always did it, every Saturday, but I just pushed it away, back from my mind, to function with everything else that was going on.
Every Saturday night, for an unknown amount of time, the neighbors across the street, “The Broken Home”, turn on the disco light in their front porch. I am not making this up. It’s one of those crappy, small-town DJ disco lights. This is the kind of disco light that makes a junior high dance so much cooler. They have it hanging from the ceiling of their screen-in porch which faces the street (and thus our house).
I had never seen this before. What sort of ritual this is, I don’t know. Perhaps they do it for attention. Maybe it’s soothing. Either way, when I see that disco thing, I can’t look away. So there I was, last Saturday, staring and staring and staring at this thing. The harder I stare, the deeper into nothing I fall. Then I see something…
A person. There was someone standing outside of their house staring at ours. I freak out. “Jeff, did you see that??” With panick in our eyes, we pull the blinds shut. “He has a stick; oh my God. Shut the blinds!” We try and try. The blinds are stuck! We can’t get them down! Exclamation point! I peer outside for a brief second and, sure enough, there is the same person standing outside with a large stick (about 12 feet tall) at his right side. He holds it as a sensei would, sensing danger but feeling protected, waiting for the next kill.
It is in that moment – looking out – that I recognize the person as the 12 year old boy who lives next door. My heart sinks and my jaw drops. What does he want? Is he deranged? Is he unstable? Does he want to hurt me with his stick in ways I’ve only imagined myself seeing on TV? I hid behind the safety of our deep green blinds and tried to calm down. Jeff was on the floor making noises inbetween laughter and screaming.
I watched between the verde slits. The boy was walking backwards, but he was still looking at our house. He was walking back towards his house, staring at ours, in a peculiar way. He was trying to keep his eye on something and, at the same time, make his way toward something else. I can’t quite make out what he’s going for.
“What’s on that tripod?”
There are lots of things you can fit on a tripod. Including… Oh, no. “Get down!” I yell, and I toss my body to the ground. I could just about hear the whistle of the sniper bullets as they slice through the air, glass, and flesh. I just about feel the dull, cold punch of the slugs as they tear through the house.
“Oh, it’s a telescope.”
Right. Of course it was. There need not be any need to panick. Just a telescope. It didn’t matter though; we had to leave the house. It was too creepy, the things that had happened. We, all four of us, left the house to venture to the store. I made a quick call to Megan, “Do not come over. There is a crazy kid with a gun in the street. I’ll explain later.”, and we left the house.
“Boy, I sure hope Jerry doesn’t get lonely being the only person left inside our house… with his gun,” I tried to say loud enough for the scary-stick kid to hear. At the same time that I feared him, I felt sorry for him. That night was a Lunar Eclipse. You don’t often see those. Well, I don’t, because I’m pretty much oblivious to everything.
As we got into Brandon’s car (which picks up the most chicks per capita than any of the other cars at our house), I couldn’t help but feel sorry for the kid with the stick. He wasn’t just star-gazing. He was looking for a home that isn’t broken… in space. I, for one, hope he finds it. And I hope it’s warm.