Thursday, March 19, 2009

Livin’ in the hood

I am an urban dweller. On the cusp of the city where it meets the county line. In St. Louis there is a colossal divide between city and county – mental, not geographical.

While it’s not the barrio, you will not find rolling green lawns with friendly golden retrievers as greeters. Though for this city, it’s about as suburban as you can get. I have an oversized yard that’s anchored by a specimen apple tree, a dwindling forsythia hedge and a fairly impressive perennial garden.

For the most part it’s quiet here, unless my northerly neighbor decides to crank up the rave music. You know -- that synthesized crap that makes you want to bang your head on the wall. And occasionally the bozo down the street will ride his pocket bike through the alley like it’s the Daytona 500.

But for my depraved amusement, I look to the drug dealer across the street.

Levi is his street name. For the first two years I lived here, a light was never turned on inside and he never went into his house through the door. He always crawled through the window. Who knows? Maybe he's also a rebirther.

Initially I was fairly alarmed about his presence. He was after all sullying up the neighborhood. The traffic was a nuisance. And his goth girlfriend gave me the jeebies. But once I realized he wasn’t connected to any Colombian drug cartel, I relaxed into it.

About five years ago he was in a car accident and lost his leg. Your tax money – and mine – bought him a nice prostheses and a state-of-the-art wheel chair. After a while, the new leg lay strewn across the lawn and the wheel chair was traded in for cash flow.

Then he was arrested. No. Not for drugs. But for stealing utilities. He had connected a hose to the faucet of the empty house next door and ran it into his window. Then he took an extension cord and pulled power into his house.

Within 24 hours he was released. I dunno. Maybe he has connections on the police force. Or maybe he’s too small time to worry about.

Besides the entertainment factor, Levi fuels my overly active imagination. I suppose I’ve watched too much Law & Order over the years, but I pride myself on being an aware good citizen with a keen eye for detail. Beware druggies cause I’m paying attention.

That way when Detective Ed Green shows up at my door (Jesse Martin was the coolest cop on L&O), I’ll have my ducks in a row, the coffee hotly brewed, and my most seductive eye witness motor running.

Though that’s a good fantasy, I kinda think I would miss Levi if he were gone. I’d miss seeing him roll out of his friend’s van and crawl up the walk to his porch. I’d miss the conversations he has with the light pole. I’d miss hearing the neighbor yell cause he’s shooting bottle rockets at her dog.

Welcome to my little slice of the hood.


Anonymous said...

It's probably extremely wrong that I laughed like a moron at that photo (not the Jesse Martin one!)but I did. Hee!!

I lived in Manhattan for a while, I know all about crazy.

Dr. Monkey Von Monkerstein said...

In our old condo complex there was a chick who lived let a succession of crack dealers live with her. She got free crack, they got a place to deal from. Thank gawd we got out of there.

Anonymous said...

Hey in my hood...we get to listen to the "arriba arriba" musico!


And I agree...Jesse Martin not only cool...but hawt!

heh heh

Cormac Brown said...

Ah yes, with neighborhood flavor like Levi, who needs vinegar? At least no rival dealers are shooting at him and that is the biggest blessing of all.

Kelly said...

ooooh, I love me some neighbor watching! My whole life I have been watching neighbors and have seen some interesting things. I live in a very quiet neighborhood now, so not so much exciting stuff to see. But I never realized that others may be watching ME until recently when a neighbor made a comment that I was not home for a short period of time because my shades were not pulled up. It made me realize we must all be watching each other!

Bruce said...

Sounds much more exiciting than my neck of the woods. We just have the society for creative ananchronism bashing each other in the head with broad swords and dagger every Wednesday night across the street in the park....yawn.