Thursday, September 14, 2006

4. Like a Good Neighbor...

The GMC pulled straight into the driveway and parked, instead of going into the garage, as it normally did. Cade and Melissa weren't staying long. They climbed out and walked (or limped, in Cade's case) to the front of the house. As soon as Cade rattled his keys in the lock, an excited bark exploded through the door.

"Hold on, pal, we're coming," Cade said as he swung open the door. Loki burst through as soon as the opening was wide enough and went a little bit crazy, just because they were back. He jumped into Cade, showing no regard whatsoever for his cracked ribs. In truth, the ribs didn't hurt all that much, but that was probably the meds talking. They watched him run in wide, erratic arcs for a moment and then we able to calm him down. Cade dropped to one knee and stroked the panting dog's fur. He traced a finger along matching gashes that ran almost the entire length of his body. He didn't seem to mind.

"I guess we all got beat up. Hey, if I forget, remind me to cover the window with cardboard or something before we leave. Who knows what kind of wildl-"

He was interrupted by a banging sound in the back of the house. Melissa gasped, and the banging repeated. He heard the tinkle of broken glass. "Goddamn, what now?" He grabbed a shovel that was leaning against the wall, and then he looked at his dog, content that his mistress was scratching him absent-mindedly behind his ear. And then he looked at Melissa, who was looking at her dog with the same expression Cade figured he had on his face.

Why wasn't the dog upset?

Cade took a few tentative steps towards the back of the house, looked into his backyard and smiled. He motioned for his wife to join him.

* * *

Cade walked toward the tall black man in a Michigan sweatshirt. He was wearing headphones, and Cade thought it might not be a good idea to surprise him. "Alvin! AL!" Alvin jumped and spun, mallet in his hand.

"Hey...there he is!" He took off his work gloves and walked towards the couple. "I didn't think you'd be back so soon. Kinda ruined my surprise." He kissed Melissa on the cheek. She hugged him. So did Cade. It felt like the right thing to do.

"Why are you fixing my window?"

"It was broken. Did you paint my garage two years ago when my leg was broken?"


"There you go."

"Neighbors, huh, Al?"

"Neighbors, kid. Now let me finish; I'm sure you want to relax a bit." He pulled his gloves back on.

Melissa said, "I wish. We have to hit the road. Just came to pack a few things. Coffee?"

Al took his gloves off again and let them fall to the ground.

* * *

The instructions consisted of Melissa getting out one half of one sentence before Alvin made it quite clear that, seeing as he had raised four boys, he was quite capabale of handling two cats. And he was sure he could figure out how to get the mail on a daily basis, as well.

"Men." Her voice was mock-exasperated.

"You've been talking to Dorothy. Speaking of..." He reachedinto a a cupboard and pulled out a plate covered in tin foil. Cade's eyebrows rose.

"Chocolate chip?" Alvin smiled. "I do love that woman. Where is she?"

"Daughter's in town. She sends her best."

"I can see that." Cade looked at his watch. "We have to get going." He grabbed both suitcases, which his left side did not agree with at all. He put that one down. "Ow." Alvin picked it up easily, still strong despite his near-seventy years.

They threw the suitcases in the back. Melissa gave Alvin a kiss and opened the rear door for Loki, who happily jumped in. She closed it after him and climbed into the driver's seat. Cade took a moment to say something that needed to be said.

"Al, I..."

"Hey, don't give me any of that sappy shit, kid. Melissa told me why you went outside in the first place. You didn't have to, hell, you shouldn't have, but you did, just to protect us. Not that I'm surprised; that's the kind of man you are."

Alvin nodded, opened the passenger side door, and motioned for Cade to climb in. Cade did, shutting the door with a thud. Alvin handed him the plate of cookies and leaned towards the open window.

"I'm sorry about your brother. I wish I had time to figure out a better way, 'cept I'm old and slow. But you have to understand this one thing, kid: even if I knew that he was your brother, it still would have come down to a choice of either him or you two, and I wouldn't have hesitated one bit longer than I did. That's the kind of guy I am."

He straightened up, rapped three times on the roof, and went back to work.

Neighbors, Cade thought. That sounds about right.

To be continued...


Dr. WhoAmI said...


We work like a horse.
We eat like a pig.
We like to play chicken.
You can get someone's goat.
We can be as slippery as a snake.
We get dog tired.
We can be as quiet as a mouse.
We can be as quick as a cat.
Some of us are as strong as an ox.
People try to buffalo others.
Some are as ugly as a toad.
We can be as gentle as a lamb.
Sometimes we are as happy as a lark.
Some of us drink like a fish.
We can be as proud as a peacock.
A few of us are as hairy as a gorilla.
You can get a frog in your throat.
We can be a lone wolf.
But I'm having a whale of a time!

You have a riveting web log
and undoubtedly must have
atypical & quiescent potential
for your intended readership.
May I suggest that you do
everything in your power to
honor your encyclopedic/omniscient
Designer/Architect as well
as your revering audience.
As soon as we acknowledge
this Supreme Designer/Architect,
Who has erected the beauteous
fabric of the universe, our minds
must necessarily be ravished with
wonder at this infinate goodness,
wisdom and power.

Please remember to never
restrict anyone's opportunities
for ascertaining uninterrupted
existence for their quintessence.

There is a time for everything,
a season for every activity
under heaven. A time to be
born and a time to die. A
time to plant and a time to
harvest. A time to kill and
a time to heal. A time to
tear down and a time to
rebuild. A time to cry and
a time to laugh. A time to
grieve and a time to dance.
A time to scatter stones
and a time to gather stones.
A time to embrace and a
time to turn away. A time to
search and a time to lose.
A time to keep and a time to
throw away. A time to tear
and a time to mend. A time
to be quiet and a time to
speak up. A time to love
and a time to hate. A time
for war and a time for peace.

Best wishes for continued ascendancy,
Dr. Whoami

P.S. One thing of which I am sure is
that the common culture of my youth
is gone for good. It was hollowed out
by the rise of ethnic "identity politics,"
then splintered beyond hope of repair
by the emergence of the web-based
technologies that so maximized and
facilitated cultural choice as to make
the broad-based offerings of the old
mass media look bland and unchallenging
by comparison."

Anonymous said...

aaah, got my fix, mr fix-its. Thanks for posting parts 3 and 4. Amazing what a rude comment or two can accomplish!