We just live in a bad neighborhood.
The other day, the neighbor kid was over in our yard chasing down his (very sweet, how did it get that way?) dog. He looked sort of like your typical kid guy, no shirt, pants hanging off his butt, but I found his tattoos decidely unnerving. They weren’t cool, full-body, polychromatic fire-spewing dragons, and they weren’t bad-ass motorcycle-riding skull-and-crossbones w/snakes flowing from empty eye sockets. Just plain, blue, block letters across his back and chest. Maybe it was the way he walked or the way he yelled at the dog, I don’t know, but I looked at those tattoos and instantly thought, “Prison time.” He thoroughly creeped me out, and I didn't particularly want to give him back his dog.
Well, earlier this week, Catherine saw his name in the police blotter of the local newspaper; he was arrested for theft (and the subsequent probation violation). I think my instincts were right: that kid is headed the wrong way down a one way street and he’s not going to end up anywhere good.
On the other hand, it was a peaceful couple days next door with him in jail. He’s obviously back, because the yelling and screaming was up full volume again today. It’s really too bad. We’re relatively decent citizens, Garry and Amanda are definitely good people, Dana and her group across the street seem like good neighbors, and we’re all listening to this family self-destruct next door.
What really decided me I wanted to move, though, was my little jaunt to the store on the corner (sells the most lottery tickets in the county every week!). I couldn’t help but overhear the man and the woman parked next to the soda machine, obviously catching up after a few years of not seeing each other. I missed the story about his divorce (he thinks he got married at the end of ’96, divorced in ’97), but did catch her talking about her boyfriend: “I love him and everything, but he’s on house arrest, and if he comes over to see me, he has to go back to jail.” I don’t even need to hear the rest of that story to know that relationship is the worst idea I’ve heard in a long time.
We so need some upward mobility in our lives.