Monday, January 14, 2008

fill in the blanks

The Sold sign went up on the yellow rental house on the corner. I greeted one of the new owners, a well-worn man in his forties. He was talkative and told me more than was comfortable for me to know on a first acquaintance, among other things, that he had worked for the city and been fired, and now he worked for the county, they were happy to be living across the street from the Big Denomination church’s gym and rec building (we old-timers hated that building, and the destruction of the lovely homes and trees it entailed, and the increased traffic in the formerly most beautiful neighborhood in America), his own church did not have such a fancy facility, he had a daughter, a high-school student in the local private school, his wife worked somewhere I can’t remember, he was going to redo the house, he was going to cut down trees.

More trees removed in our tree-depleted neighborhood? He liked the gym? He had been fired?

It was the last we spoke. The wife spotted me walking my dogs and glared. I felt like an instant enemy though we avoided her yard assiduously, and my dogs never jumped their cat. I saw the daughter in her mother’s car maybe twice. The man, when I did catch his eye, smiled a poop-eating grin, like saying hello to me was something he had been given orders against. He drove a big manly truck and had a motorcycle that he often used, too. The truck he parked in the side drive and the motorcycle lived under the front carport, next to the decorative baby cradle.

He had gone right to work, hauling out rotten lumber and sinks and toilets, filling the rubbish pile with paint cans and strange pipes and building debris. The place buzzed with activity. The work never stopped. The rusting shed in the back yard was carted away, rotting gutters were replaced, and true to his word, trees were cut, including the wonderful tulip tree in the front yard, the stumps ground into pulp. The house was painted an unfortunate celery green, and the shutters a flat black that was almost purple. All of that work to the house, and most of it that I could see I thought was unfortunate.

Before the paint had time to dry, a For Sale sign went up in the front yard. At some point the truck and the motorcycle and baby cradle had disappeared. The wife’s car continued to come and go, but we did not even pass enough to avoid eye contact. The car was now parked under the carport, next to the kitchen door. I no longer saw the cat or the girl, though as I said, the girl had been pretty much invisible.

One day the For Sale sign was lying on its side. Sometime last week, it was gone. The truck is back. I haven’t seen sign of either the motorcycle or the cradle it used to share the carport with, though yesterday I spotted the cat lurking behind the garbage bins in the church parking lot.


Mrs. G. said...

Hmm...I'm curious what's going on. This sounds like the makings of a short story.

Camellia said...

The For Sale sign, she is back up, though I was not out early enough to spot the truck. Dufresne says a the story line (badly remembering this here) is the king died, then the queen died. A plot is the king died, then the queen died of grief. Wondering what the plot is in this short story makings.