I awoke, as usual, well before dawn. I lumbered around in the kitchen, letting the dogs outside and setting my water to boil so I could make my blessed cup of coffee. This morning, I really needed it. Of, course, that’s the way I feel every morning. I managed to stop myself from pouring the boiling water into the wrong container. It seems like I always do this. Right! Stir the coffee and put the lid on the carafe. There’s a good boy. Now, sit down and wait for a few minutes for the coffee to brew. Thank God, there’s half and half. We had been out of it for days. I pour the black, steaming liquid into my cup, mixing the cream, as I pour, and then carefully stumble for the front door, open it, and step out onto the front porch so I can observe my daily ritual of sipping coffee in my rocker, as the darkness evaporates into the early morning sunlight.
Without my glasses, I see someone has parked a huge RV down the street. “Must be someone’s retired parents”, I think, “No one can afford such a vehicle in this neighborhood!” I think I can see people milling about in front of the house just across the street and down the way a little. Hard to tell, everything is such a blur, between my lousy eyesight and the sleepiness.
I retrieve my glasses so I can see. The rear of the RV has something painted on it. It looks like, no, it is! It’s a great big Sheriff’s star, and surrounding the RV are about a dozen cars and pickups, parked askew and blocking the street. “Wow!” I think to myself, “This is an early morning bust!” One man leaves the house from the front door, and proceeds to a parked pickup. He intentionally looks like a scumbag: dirty, disheveled T-shirt and faded ragged jeans. His size, hair, and beard make him look a little like Haggred from the movies. Only the holstered automatic on his hip gives away his true identity. “Must be the narc!” I think. He climbs into a nice, new truck and drives off. Another man, conservatively dressed in pressed slacks, dress shoes, a new golf shirt, and wearing a holstered automatic with two spare magazines on his hip and the customary star on his belt, quickly walks across the street from the house to a waiting unmarked car parked behind the RV. He talks on a hand held radio. He smiles and nods his head to the neighbors, who have already started gathering in the yard across the street. He continues talking on the hand held as he climbs into the car. He drives off. The sun slowly rises in the sky. Twilight has given way to a hazy dawn. Various men, dressed in jeans, some wearing t-shirts and some wearing regulation Sheriffs Office golf shirts and the ever present, holstered automatics on their belts, carry bags from the house to their vehicles, and drive away. The morning drags on, and the RV remains parked across the street from the house. Most of the unmarked vehicles have left. Two remain, parked carelessly in the street. Traffic, if there were any, would be blocked. Nobody comes from or goes to the house. I have long since finished my coffee. I go back into my own house to straighten things up and feed animals. While I am inside, the two remaining cars leave. The RV remains. Nobody stirs anywhere.
Noon comes blazing with midsummer heat. I finish working in my vegetable garden; naptime. The RV has left. Only a yellow plastic tape, with the words, ‘police line’ remains behind after all of the officers have left. The house and yard across the street are deathly quiet. I leave my front porch and go inside to lie down.
The soothing whir of the fan recedes into the background, as an ice cream truck tinkles, “I’m Popeye the sailor man….” outside. Late afternoon has replaced the morning stillness with noisy ice cream trucks and school buses. I leave my bed and go again to my front porch. Nothing stirs at the now empty house. School children run to their houses from the buses. A game of futbol forms up in the street. Soon, mothers will be calling children to come home and eat. Someone is barbecuing. The smell of a charcoal fire and searing meat invades my nostrils. I rock in the rocker. Dinner punctuates the monotony of the evening. I read for a bit and struggle off to bed. Ah, the engulfing blackness of my tiny room!
The alarm slaps my psyche. A new day slithers in. Once again, put the dogs out, boil the water, and make the coffee. The rocker awaits on the front porch. The empty house across the street stands forlornly in the pre-dawn dimness. A man strides from the bus stop and pauses outside the house’s locked gate. He goes home and returns, wearing a change of clothes and carrying an empty bag. He jumps over the locked gate and stalks quickly to the backyard wall. Diving over it, he disappears. Only minutes later, he returns to the front yard, carrying what appears to be a bulging pillow case. He makes eye contact with me and glares, just for a moment, then, walks away, presumably to his house. I recognize him as the man who walks the Rottweiler every day. I get up from my rocker and go inside. I clean the shotgun.