Looking back, I suppose it was foolish for me to think it was really over. I should have known things were going too well to last.
Last night, Gary and I were in the kitchen discovering what happens if you don’t let the pan heat up enough before attempting to make french toast when we heard the booming bass from a car outside. Gary commented that it seemed really close. We’ve become accustomed to enjoying a good deal of quiet during the months since the city took care of the infestation next door. He went to the living room window to check it out, and sure enough, a black mustang had parked in front of the abandoned house.
Gary returned to the kitchen with a sigh. “Well, I’m afraid our neighbors two doors down are a little shadier than we had hoped.”
We always knew some young-ish people lived on the other side of the Crackhouse, and we assumed they were in cahoots with our shared neighbors, because that just seems to be our luck. After the house was condemned, however, we began to notice that they were coming outside a lot more often, having parties, playing softball in the backyard...almost as if they were celebrating right along with us. Eventually we met one of the guys who lived there (who looked remarkably like Sean Astin), and as it turns out, they had been celebrating. They hated the crackheads as much as we did, which Gary and I felt created a special bond between us.
And so it goes that we were a little disappointed that a group of people with whom we shared a mutual respect (and, dare I say, love?) would associate with someone with so little consideration for the city’s noise ordinances. But wait! As Thugly Duckling got out of his car and gangster leaned his way up the sidewalk, we realized that he was not headed toward our cool neighbors’ house, but to bang his bony fists on the boarded-up side door of the Crackhouse! SUCCESS! Or so we thought.
We were so busy patting ourselves on the back for having accurately judged our neighbors-once-removed that we never stopped to consider that this might not be the last we would see of Thug E. Fresh. As a result, we were caught completely off guard when his sunken-cheeked, shifty eyed mug appeared just outside our kitchen window.
Gary was the first to react.
“Heyyyyyy, brother! How ‘bout you meet me around the FRONT of the house?”
I was torn as to what my next move should be. On one hand, I’ve never seen Gary in a fight, and I’ve always secretly wondered what it would be like to watch him kill someone with his bare hands. On the other hand, I knew that if I stayed in the kitchen I’d be able to tell the police I "didn't see a thing" with a relatively clear conscience.
The conversation didn’t last long.
Vanilla Lice: Hey, do you know what happened to the people next door?
Scary Gray: The house is boarded up, unlivable, condemned by the city. Also, if you don’t mind...
I can only assume this sentence was going to end with "...I'd like to pummel you now," but I'll never know for sure. Apparently Dim Shady managed to pick up on the fact that Gary was somewhere between Bruce Banner and the Hulk, and before Gary could get another word out, he started backing away with both hands up, mumbling apologies as he scurried back to the hoopty.
I was only slightly disappointed that it hadn’t led to a physical altercation. I guess my morbid curiosity will just have to remain ungratified. Besides, he struck me as the kind of guy who’s likely to be carrying some sort of homemade shiv, which is cheating, so really it's for the best.