Thursday, September 18, 2008


So you're walking down Royalwood Road where you walk all the time, listening to Warren Olney on your iPod and some guy in a green pickup drives by and honks. You have no idea who it is but since everyone in this town knows you, you wave back like you always do. You keep on walking and listening and thinking that someone somewhere ought to kick the President in the United States of America square in the nuts when lo an behold, that green pick up comes back around, going the opposite way and honks at you again.

So you wave again and keep walking.

When the pick up turns around yet again and passes you, honking, and then pulls into a driveway, essentially blocking your path, you figure it's one of the old-timers who used to yak at you all the time when you were the local political reporter, so you step up to the window thinking, sometimes you've just got to give a little bit back.

But then you realize you don't know this old-timer.

"Thought you were someone else," he says from the cab, "but you're pretty good looking too. Want a ride?" You back away, not feeling threatened by the old-timer, but not feeling exactly comfortable either. This is strange behavior and who the hell knows who's toting a gun these days with the way they dole them out like dumdum suckers at the grocery checkout?

"Naw," you say backing away. "That's all right, buddy. You have a good day." You immediately pull out your cell phone. The old-timer sees this and throws the pick-up in gear and high-tails it down the road. You dial the cops because this really is weird behavior and the next person this guy encounters might be a thirteen-year-old girl.

The cops come around and you tell them what happened and they sort of look at each other and say they might know who it is and here's a picture and does it look like the guy in the pickup?

Yeah, you say, it does.

They don't think the guy is any trouble and so they finish up their business and tell you they'll let you know how it pans out and go on their way. You finish your walk.

Sure enough, your phone rings later that day and it's one of the cops. Yeah, it's the guy we thought and he's got a history with alcohol that's gotten a lot worse since the wife died some months back and he's the old guy that lives in that one house on the corner of so and so and we found him at the Sip 'N Post Bar and he said he was awful sorry for bothering you and that he only did it on accounts that you looked like his one neighbor.

You say you sure didn't mean to hassle a lonely old guy or be a pain for the cops or anything but that when guys are driving around trying to get women into their cars, it's best to alert the cops and thanks for the call back. The cop says no problem and that making that call is the right thing to do because you never know and, yeah, they told the old timer that he can't drive pull up next to people on the street like that and don't apologize because that's what the cops are there for.

You say thanks again and hang up and look at your husband across the dining room table and at your kid and you feel the timeline beneath your feet that's the same timeline beneath your daughter's feet and the cop's feet and the President of the United States' feet and the old timer's feet.

You sigh, swallow hard and reach for the mashed potatoes, but you know that somewhere a switch has toggled and it is not good or bad, it just is and there is nothing you can do about it other than let a teaspoon of sorrow float around your heart for a while.


Diane Vogel Ferri said...

Just. . . wow.

Sam Bennet said...

Life; what can I say.
It bought a tear.
Great writing.

Zen Wizard said... old redneck was driving his pick-up around and trying to get laid?

Shouldn't you have called the Department of Homeland Security??

The Scribe said...

"teaspoon of sorrow" - fantastic, heart rending.

emmapeelDallas said...

Great writing, Erin.

Geoff Schutt said...

We are awake early, and we are impressed by your words, Erin, to no small account, and we are also feeling that same bit of sorrow. It is good to take such pause, and breathe in.

The morning air stings of story.

-- Geoff & Eleanor

Anonymous said...

yes. indeed.
a teaspoon of sorrow mixed in with some bitters.
a tough cocktail to swallow.
excuse the puns.

Velvet Fog said...

Glad you are safe.
Next time stick your car key in his eye, kick him in the nuts and then finish him off with a nice ridge hand to the throat.
But that's just me.


yeah, that just made me burst into tears.

Amy Sparks said...

Erin, those last two graphs are stunning.

BTW: the cop part would never happen in my part of town....

Richard Helms said...

So, you read a lot of Richard Brautigan way back when, didn't you?

Nice piece...