Saturday, August 22, 2009

A Neighborly Noise

At first, I thought it was distant thunder. Something had roused me from a relatively deep sleep, but it could have been a dream. But then I heard it again; this time, it was louder. When I heard it a third time, it sounded like metal trash cans being slammed against one another; a loud, startling noise that caused my heart to skip a beat.

I listened intently and began to hear it grow louder and louder. I jumped out of bed, threw on some shorts, a shirt, and some flip-flops, and went out to investigate.

The sounds were unmistakable now. Sheet metal being pushed and pulled and bent by someone without regard to whether it would be permanently damaged with all the movement. I looked outside the three big windows to my backyard and there, through the tiny spaces in the fence, I could see a garage light, though not clearly. And something between the light and me was moving violently, keeping perfect time to the shrieks and rumbles of the sheet-metal music.

The more I watched, the more it seemed to me that someone was tearing the sheet-metal sections of the neighbor's garage door to shreds. I glanced at the clock; it was 4:50 a.m. I don't know this particular neighbor well, this neighbor whose house is one over and separated by an alley from mine . So, rather than risk interrupting a burglary-in-progress or worse, I decided to call the police. Just as I was hanging up from talking to them, a car backed out of the garage and sped down the alley, heading away from the nearest street.

Two police cars arrived within ten minutes. I stepped into my backyard and looked toward the garage and listened. I could not hear well, but I did pick up that the old man who lives there, a reclusive old bastard who has not said a friendly word to me in the twelve years I've lived in my house, was telling a tale to the police about how he has lived there 25 years. Whatever the tale, the police left soon thereafter and did not appear to have the old man in chains as then went.

The old man's grandson (or someone I presume is his grandson) lives with him and is not reclusive like the old bastard he lives with. He is gregarious in a way that makes me uncomfortable, like he wants to befriend me so he can steal my tools and snatch my wallet. This boy reminds me of trailer-trash characters on disturbing low-life sitcoms.

The kid has driven any number of old cars during the past few years, cars that look and sound very much like they were snagged from the junkyard just before they were to have been crushed. He has no compunction about revving the engine to an old jalopy at 5:00 am or gliding up the alley at midnight as the vehicle backfires explosively.

The more I think of what I saw this morning, the more I think that what happened is this:
  • As he tried to leave for work to go to McDonald's or some such fast-food joint at 4:30 a.m., he discovered the garage door would not open.
  • So, he started trying to pry it open.
  • The more he pried, the worse it got.
  • So he started disassembling the door, metal panel by metal panel, until he was able to drive his car out of the garage.

After daylight, I'll walk back there to determine whether my theory has any potential merit. I'm not going back there now, though. The old man may be sitting in wait with a loaded shotgun to welcome his neighbors.


KathyR said...

Well, you go get your shotgun and your lawn chair and sit out there, too.

Me, You, or Ellie said...

Well, this is terrible news. I hate everything about this story. Except how you wrote it. Just please have some sushi and stay away from them, okay??


Springer Kneeblood said...

Kathy, I don't have a shotgun. Hell, I don't even have a lawn chair. Oh well. I will heed Ellie's admonishment...and sushi sounds really good!