Sunday, July 17, 2011

Feels Blind

4.13.04: Feels Blind

I am obsessed with the cars again. The cars that park between our yard and the neighbor's at all hours, that I know by their license plates, makes and models, but not by their passengers, who are often invisible. I look out the window and a car is there, vacant. The passengers are not visiting me, not visiting Bobbie next door, they have no business with anyone on our street. They have disappeared into the night. An hour later, the neighbor's dog barks, a door slams, the car is running, and quickly, gone. I keep a log of these cars: when I noticed each one, when it disappeared. Once in a while I catch a driver, ask him what he is doing, why he leaves the car there. All of their answers differ slightly, but most claim to be meeting a friend. For various reasons, they do not want to park their car at their friend's house. No, this spot, this no man's land, an unkempt patch of bramble between street lights, between houses, is the place. Sometimes they are hostile when asked why they choose this spot. Sometimes deferential. Sometimes they move their car if asked. Sometimes they refuse. All insist that they are doing nothing wrong. But once confronted, they rarely come back. Instead a different car arrives in the night, noted only by the neighbor's dog, bark, bark, barking at nothing.

I keep a log of the cars that park, the people who loiter, those who I find at the baseball diamond when no games are going on, sitting on the bleachers, waiting for someone or something. Dates, times, license plate numbers, descriptions, names when I can get them. An accumulation of data detailing the secret life of the neighborhood, the comings and goings that wish to be unnoticed. I am hoping to find a pattern, a Fibonacci sequence, a key to the underground rhythm.

Even before our house was burglarized, one of the frustrating things about the neighborhood was not knowing about the people around. Friend or foe? Inquiring neighbor or scouting robber? Crack head or idiosyncratic coot? Seemingly nice people walking by the house would hurl an insult, hostile old men would turn out to be neighborhood stalwarts. After the robbery, I had a great distrust of everyone who passed by. Was this the person who forced the door lock with a crowbar? Who kicked in the front door? Who stole the VCR and a pillowcase from the bed to carry it away in? But all I can do is watch and wait for things to make sense. There is a language to this shadow world which I do not know. Common vocabulary comes first, then phrases, sentences and one day, the numbers, letters and juxtapositions align and comprehension takes place.

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