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Neighbors2

Neighbors2

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Published by U.L. Harper

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Published by: U.L. Harper on Mar 04, 2011
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04/24/2011

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 Neighbors
This is one of those awkward stories that makes you wonder about your surroundings, but mainly, well, your neighbors. I remember living with someone years ago, and I had this habit of leaving all the doors in the house open, which pissed off my roommate plenty. He used to always say that the bad neighborhood a ways up would one day steal from the house. I never believed that…because at one time I lived in one of those bad neighborhoods. People from those areasdon’t rob from the rich and sell to the poor. They rob from each other and sell to each other.Usually it’s a crack head or some kind of addict or some young punks with really nothing else todo. All those elements are here in quite the satirical way. I hope you don’t know anybody likethis. If you do, by all means comment on my blog.
The people most likely to rob your house are your neighbors. Not necessarily your immediateneighbors. It might be someone from down the block or across the street. In some cases, it'ssomeone from around the corner.Before I moved to this place six months ago I lived in a small apartment with the rest of my pretty large family. There's my mother and father--still married--and my younger sister and brother. Both of my siblings are ten years younger than I am and fraternal twins. I'm 23 yearsold. It's a two bedroom apartment, so that place is too small. My family is still really close. For instance, they all have a key to my house. It's the least I can do. I could have stayed home andhelped out, or I could have moved out and helped them a lot less. If they have a key it helps myconscience.I remember the first time we got robbed. I was real young, like 10 years old or something likethat. Whoever stole from us took some dumb stuff: cake mix, eggs, my backpack--probably to put the cake mix and eggs in--some milk, is what I remember. They didn't take anything nicelike the television or VCR or money or the radio. The next time we got robbed I was much older.I was fifteen so the twins were about five. I baby-sat a lot. If I wasn't watching them, my mother was. If my mother wasn't with them, my father was watching them. If nobody could watch them,Aunt Sara did. Whoever robbed us had to know when we weren't going to be home for a periodof time. They'd have to know our patterns. All they had to do was pay attention. That's what Iheard my dad saying. My mother was pissed. My dad thought it was bound to happen, sooner or later.When I was eighteen the same thing happened. I even think I know who it was the last time.Whoever it was, they didn't do it themselves; they got other people to do it. How can you proveit, though?
 
 Never mind proving it.I moved out with my best friend Ralph.Ralph is my age and works delivering sandwiches during the day. At night he does security. Hedoesn't do either one five days a week. On the other hand, I work five days a week managing amovie theater. I work days and nights, including weekends. Ralph and I put our money together and started renting this two bedroom house over here on the other side of town. It's not the nicest place in the world, but it's, basically, affordable, and not too far from my family.On this street there are all kinds of families. Me and Ralph made a point to meet mostlyeverybody. We didn't want anyone thinking we would thieve them. We know how importanttrust is. They had to get to know us, quickly. Now keep in mind this isn't the most amiableneighborhood of people, merely one where people are acquainted. For instance, everybodyknows about the tweakers in the house around the corner. The tweakers wander theneighborhood late at night and early in the morning, like lonely vampires with nothing to do. Idon't know who pays rent or actually lives there. We, meaning the rest of the neighborhood,figure the people in the tweeker house will eventually burn themselves out and die. They'reabnormally skinny, with their eyes bugging out of their heads, and for some reason, their tonguesare always moving around in their mouths, like their chops are perpetually dry or something. If they don't die off, they'll get evicted.Our closest neighbors are the Roberts across the street. What I mean by close is we talk to themfrequently. We consider each other friends. We watch each other’s back. I play with their dogs:Hercules and Venus. I play video games with their kid, Josh. I talk politics with their father,Jack. I don't say much to his wife, Jill, but we don't mind each other.I'm looking at the Roberts house from my living room window. I'm peeking through the curtains,not letting today have a good look at what little material possessions we have. We have nofurniture, except for three fold-out chairs. Against the wall is a television that has no reception,which is horrible for someone like me who has nothing to do while not at work.Ralph pulls up outside and he doesn't seem too happy.I watch him drag himself up the walkway and to the porch. My eyes are on the front door whenhe steps inside."What's wrong?" I ask.He closes the door behind him, kicks his shoes off and starts rubbing his hands through hisshaggy hair. "They're saying they don't need me.""Really. What'd you do?""Nothing. They just don't need me. It's fucked up." He lays down right there on the hardwood
 
floor."Is business slow?" I say, closing the blinds."I don't
think 
 business is slow. Not
really
.""Listen," I say moving next to him. "They're firing you and just said they didn't need you. I do itat my work all the time. Someone's not performing, we stop putting them on the schedule. Wetell them there aren't enough hours. Stuff like that."He gets off the floor. He's shorter than I am, but weighs more. "Fucked up.""It happens.""That's cash not in
my
pocket. Not this month, but next month..." He shook his head. "It's fuckedup.""I don't think so."He starts for the kitchen. "Why not?""Just find a day job."He goes to check the fridge like he usually does and finds out again that we have nothing to eat."We have nothing to eat!" He comes back into the room with me, holding his belly. "Theykicked me out before I ate.""They kicked you out?""Actually, I left. They wanted me to leave, anyway. Fuckers. Let's get some light in here." Heopens the curtains.I grab a fold-out chair from the corner, set it in the middle of the room and sit."Want to see a movie tonight?" I ask him, knowing he isn't in the mood for a film."I have to conserve gas," he says, gazing out the window."I'll drive.""Hey, Donnie," he says all inquisitive. "How long are the Roberts out of town?""The Roberts? I think they're gone for a solid week or so.""I'm going for a run," he says, facing me."When did you start jogging?"

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