The Neighbors Get a Minivan

van

A sleek black minivan was parked between our houses after work.  It did not leave as expected, rather, it returned day after day.  A paper tag protected by a sleeve of plastic was attached on the back, stating the expiration date at the end of June.  The minivan was here to stay. 

We saw the neighbors boarding their new cruiser and all of the bags and baskets that are apparently required to take a baby anywhere.  The baby was strapped to his daddy’s chest, supervising the undertaking and keeping an eye on his mother who stood nearby in obvious discomfort.  She appeared to be 12 months pregnant.

Hipsters are trying to extend the average gestational period.  Or so I have heard.  It could be fake news.  In any case, our neighbor just had a baby and then was instantly pregnant with another one in a phenomenon that will make their offspring “Irish twins” when the second one is born.  The timeline is unclear but it definitely seems that they have been continuously pregnant for the past two years.

The neighbors started out like us, very cool and modern, engaged in work and exercise, friends, and family. We resolved to share a pizza and a few cold adult beverages but never got around to scheduling a date because all of a sudden, wham-bam-thank-you-ma’am, they were pregnant and went underground. They emerged this Spring, eyes weak and blinking under the bright sun, pushing a stroller with a round faced ooling, drooling baby boy and with a belly popping out like a snake that just ate Mousezilla. 

We walked up to the new van and B said, “Looks like you are just missing the decals on the back.” 

He was referring to the ever-popular cookie cutter stickers of each family member and pet, usually something like two parents next to a half-sized sticker of toddler or two, with the outline of a dog wagging its tail in familial bliss. 

The couple smiled together in a wholesome unity, clear that they were of one mind, and the man said, “That’s a great idea. We’re just glad we have room for everyone now, even the dog.”

They will leave the neighborhood soon, there isn’t enough room as it is for the current occupants of their home, let alone when the babies start to stretch out and grow.  Already, they are planting petunias and Hosta’s, laying mulch, trimming trees and power washing their siding.  It’s just a matter of time before the FOR SALE sign goes into their front yard and they pack their lives into a U-Haul truck.  When they move, it will be with a family double in size than when they moved next door to us.

Meanwhile, we remain in place, at the same address with the same number of residents, exactly three cats and two humans, as when we came to town two years ago.  We will be just as childless but still happy, healthy, well-rested and living relatively uncomplicated, minivan free lives.  For now, anyways.

     

Nobody’s home

closed

I exhaled a sigh of absolute relief. The Danger was gone, at last, and with it went the anxiety and fear of what the Danger might do in a drug induced, brain addled hour or two. It wasn’t easy getting the Danger to leave and it wasn’t exactly voluntary when he marched out the door.

But the Danger was gone and I was free.

I watched him struggle down the sidewalk from the safety of a window. A white, plastic bag dangled from a hooked finger, while the Danger gripped his most prized possession with both hands: a sixty-inch, flat screen, still-boxed television.   Paperwork, pictures, pillows, blankets, dishes, knick-knacks and clothing; all of it was left behind in a clear establishment of priorities.

He could have been heading across a Wal-Mart parking lot with his boxed tv and shopping bag, but instead, he was traveling by foot through one of the most treacherous areas of the city. At least it was during the day, I reasoned, but the forecast called for rain.

A bus pulled up and blocked my view of the soon-to-be weary traveler, and when I returned to the window, the Danger was completely gone, tv and all.

There was closure in this, like when the curtain drops down after the final applause.

Now, several days later, the curtain has been rudely withdrawn. H e’s back ringing the doorbell and peering through the window.  I am hiding under my desk, thinking quiet thoughts and waiting for the nightmare to pass.

Hold-out

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The man sat on an upturned bucket next to a jug of cheap wine.  He stared out the window with bleary, blood-shot eyes.  Despite all logic and the warnings of his wife, he knew he was making the right decision.  What was he anyways, as a man without a home?  I’ve never lived in an apartment and I’m not about to start, he reasoned.

A car slowed in front of the home and pulled into the drive.  The man’s heart beat quickened.  He walked to the window and peered out from the side to avoid detection from the outside.  A couple stepped out from each side of the car, beaming with excitement.  It was time to take a stand, the man thought, they’re here. 

The man heard the front door open and steeled himself for what was to come. 

“Oh my God, someone’s here,” the woman exclaimed.

Muddy boot tracks led down the hallway to the den and the door was shut. 

Why was the door closed, the young man silently wondered with a sick feeling, afraid his wife was right.  He tried not to jump to conclusions, but instinctively wanted to protect the woman from whatever was on the other side of the door. 

“Stay back here while I check the door,” he said.

 He bravely walked forward and tried to open the door.  It was locked.

“Try to push it, maybe it’s just stuck,” his wife tried to help.

 “I can’t turn the door knob, it’s definitely locked,” he said over his shoulder.

“Who’s in there?” he demanded.

“Listen kids, the deal’s off.  I’m not leaving,” the man behind the door explained in a gruff voice.

 His mind was set, this was his house.  Paperwork from the bank could never change that, he thought.  He would find the money the bank wanted.  He looked around and put his hand on the wall, I put this up.  I ran electricity into this room and I built that staircase.  Why should I walk away from all this and let a pair of brats move in?

The man paced back and forth, I bet they never did a full day’s worth of work in their lives.  They don’t deserve this.  He was more resolute than before, he would move back in and they would leave.

The pair heard the man clomping back and forth in heavy boots.  They knew exactly who was on the other side of the door and worried what it would take for him to leave their house.   There was nothing left to negotiate, the deal was done and money already changed hands.

“You need to leave before I call the police,” the young man said.

“Do it, I’ll explain that I’m the rightful owner and you are trespassing,” the old man yelled through the door.    

“There’s something wrong with this guy.  What if he has a gun? ” the woman whispered. 

Indeed, on the other side of the door, leaned neatly against the wall was a shot gun.  It was the man’s just-in-case-insurance policy that he had taken out as precaution.

“Ok, I’m calling the police now,” the man announced and dialed 911.

The woman walked back towards the front door and called Brenda, the real estate agent who sold them the house.  They had just closed a week ago and went out to dinner afterwards to celebrate. 

“Brenda, we have a situation,” the woman said quietly into the phone.  She quickly explained the predicament with confidence that Brenda would have a solution. 

“I was afraid of this with him,” Brenda responded gravely. 

The woman heard Brenda yell to someone in her office, “We’ve got a hold out situation on Central and 50th.”

“Honey, hang in there and don’t worry.  I’ve dealt with this before and I’m on my way.”    

The woman breathed a sigh of relief, there was a name and a protocol for this circumstance, and it would all be over very soon.  

Hunting for Houses

s and c

“Have you seen what our rent will be next year?” I asked the Mister, feeling panicked.

He was casually surfing the internet, searching for his next deal.

“It’s almost doubling,” I shrieked.

“Hmmmm….seems pretty high,” the Mister responded, only half listening.

I re-read the email from our landlord, hoping I had a transposed the numbers or even imagined an extra number at the end. The number remained the same, revoltingly high price.

This email was just a simple mistake, sent out too early and without being proofread. I justified the situation in my mind. There was nothing to worry about. Until the next day, when the same email came, asking for a decision on if we would stay or go. This one was signed with a smiley face emoticon after the landlord’s name, which should have been a skull and crossbones.

“Did you see the newest email she sent?” I asked the Mister the next night.

He was focused on disassembling a computer. He looked up at me with a screwdriver in one hand and nodded.

“Sounds like it’s time to move,” said the man of few words.

This was the very opportunity for which he had been waiting. It was just the push that I needed to agree with him to move, yet again. Only this time, it would be into a house that we would buy. No more surprise fees, changes in the rent, or upstairs neighbors stomping across our ceiling at night.

Since those emails, our search for a house started and continues.

Not to worry, we aren’t alone in this mission. It’s a big job to navigate the market, so we got help.

We found the most inexperienced real estate agent possible who has in turn taken us to the most colorful set of homes and locations. She even got us an exclusive peek at “the cutest house sure to sell quickly” that reeked of urine and rotting corpse. Some of the homes have fist sized holes in the walls and are missing minor things, like door knobs and handles. While some of the other homes are missing bigger things, like the walls and electrical wiring.

“She’s trying her best,” said the man of few words when I attempted to fire her.

Aren’t we all, I silently thought.

Not everyone is lucky enough to have a quiet hero stand up for their potential in a world where intention and effort don’t hold much weight.

So the house hunt continues with our real estate agent, saved only by the good graces of the Mister.

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