Scissors and spackle Sandra Florence

12 Июн 2014 | Author: | Комментарии к записи Scissors and spackle Sandra Florence отключены
MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)

Sandra Florence

Neighborhood Watch

I see a man’s shadow moving back and forth in the room behind my house. A woman is in the yard screaming at him.  I notice when I step onto my back porch.

  There are purple olives and huge rotting pomegranates all over.  They fall off the trees all night and land with a thunk on the cooler or roll down the roof and land with a soft ping on the deck below.  As I sweep, the woman screams, and I’m tempted to call the cops.

You think you’re such a man.  Go on and spend your money on drugs and your old lady.  You’re such a man.  I’m gonna kill you for runnin me outta my house you… on and on.  I go inside and lean against the window frame.

  My body feels heavy.  I try to listen.  I don’t know why.  Her noise goes on for thirty minutes.  The man she’s yelling at keeps saying things under his breath.

Lady, I didn’t. lady, that wasn’t my fault. lady.  He paces.  She screams.  Come on, you’re such a man. Come on out here, she yells, challenging him.

  You’re gonna hafta wait awhile for that, lady, he says and keeps pacing.  Now he’s standing in front of the mirror and splashes his face with what looks like after shave or cologne.  He has something like a hammer attached to his back.

  It’s hard to tell what it is in the dim light.  I begin to hear the helicopter chopping its way through the afternoon sky.  The police arrive and I hear a knock on his door.

  The woman is silent now.  Who is it? he asks innocently.


He splashes his face once more then moves toward the door.


The boy on the red bicycle rides past me quickly.  It’s late.  The sun is going down.  He is looking for someone.  I’m walking my dog through the alley smelling food, barbecued chicken, beans, cilantro.

  I never walk in the evening without my dog.  When I get back to my street, there he is with another boy.  Their small bikes are parked together, curled around each other.

  As I pass, they press their shoulders together and turn their backs to me, concentrating, examining something, trying to light something.

A young black man saunters to the OK Market to use the phone.  The Mexican family who lives in one of the row houses behind me pulls up in their old Chevy El Camino which is laden with two beat-up sofas.  The car barely moves through the alley to its destination rocking from side to side like a ship in a storm.

I’m alone here.  Trying to live alone for the first time in my life.  Last night, for the third night in a row, I dreamed of my ex.When I woke up, it was still dark and I was sweaty and hot even though the fan was blowing on my back.

  I felt sick, an ache in my throat and a painful cry I wanted to let out.  But I couldn’t cry, so I turned over and went back to sleep and dreamed again.


The tailor who lives next door is from Cuba. His name is David. He refuses to speak English although he knows much more of the language than he pretends.  In his red-curtained living room,

he sews beautiful gowns for parties and weddings.  He is the model for all his gowns.  He moves carefully in front of the mirror to make sure the material is perfect.  The ruffles, the white-lace collars, the taffeta borders must be perfect for his customers.  When the young girl comes to admire her new gown, he is a little depressed.

  He came here five years ago by boat without family.  Sometimes he gets a postcard from home.  He looks very happy when he reads the card sitting on his front porch with his dog Bobby.

  He dresses up and goes out on Saturday nights and if I see him, I wave and say, You’re going out tonight!  He smiles, puts his hands on his hips, twists back and forth and says with a laugh, disco, disco.  He has very black wavy hair with a few threads of silver in it.

  He is older than he looks.  Sometimes he goes to live with a lover for a few months, but he always returns to his little house, bringing his dog.  One lover built a fence for the dog.  He worked very hard in the hot sun and David brought him iced-tea to drink and supervised the work.

  After the fence was built, the lover disappeared.  David says he won the lottery.


I’m getting angry about the money situation. Working so hard all the time and there is never enough money to go out and buy the things I need.  I had to figure out if I can buy a dog brush for my dog or a towel rack for the bathroom.

  It’s the same old thing each week, and it’s not getting any better.

Driving down south 4th Avenue, I pass an abandoned Mexican theater.  It looks gutted, blackened, empty.  A boy and girl are standing at the phone booth nearby.  The girl is on the phone and the boy is holding a baby girl.  The boy’s hair is waist length and black.

  The monsoon wind whips the long strands of his hair around his face and shoulders.  He is wearing blue jeans. No shirt. The child clings to his white chest.

  And the boy’s face is the same as the child’s, as they watch the storm brewing and wait for the girl to end her conversation.


A man drives by and blows me a kiss.  At night men pull up in front of my house and turn off the car lights.  Waiting for someone who has what they want.  Sometimes it’s a woman.  She strolls out into the street, speaks through the car window.

  Sometimes it’s a man who arrives in another car.  There are signals, gestures, movements I don’t understand.

I sit and watch the hookers in their lullaby, watch the van pull up to the curb and the lights go out.  There’s no driver.  I never see the driver, but I see the girl and her pale hair as she steps from the curb and into the dazzling heat of the street.  It rises to greet her.

  And she is always running.  She stumbles barefoot past my house toward a man whose milky bones will come apart when she touches him.


When I leave the house this morning, a man is lying on the pavement with his head propped up on a blue pad.  He is curled in the fetal position, and as I pass, his dog begins barking.  The dog has a red handkerchief around its neck.

  The man doesn’t move.  I study him for a moment.  His nails are black with dirt and very long.  His wiry beard grazes the sidewalk, pine needles and gravel stuck in it.  There are no apparent wounds.

  Children pass on their way to school.  The man down the street comes out and waters his lawn and sweeps his end of the sidewalk.  I think perhaps someone will come and take him away.  No one does.

  When I return home later, he is still there.  His dog curled up at his head to protect him.


I go inside and look around at my apartment.  At the new things I’ve added to the decor.  A red bamboo fan.  A Zuni ….  An Apache burden basket.  The basket is still empty.

  A friend calls and asks how I like my new neighborhood, and with a laugh, if I’m ready to move yet.  She chatters on about her new security system and how safe she feels living on the eastside.  I see David through my window, so I make an excuse and get off the phone.

He is busy at work this afternoon.  Sometimes I can hear him laughing.  Right now he is trying on a beautiful taffeta skirt, pale blue with a dark blue border.

  He comes out on the porch and twirls around in a circle.  The wind catches the hem of the skirt.  He goes back inside.

  I see mothers and daughters and an occasional grandmother going in and out of his house.  I hear them speaking loudly in Spanish and laughing.

Sometimes a beautiful boy drops by for fashion advice.  There is something inviting and cozy about his home.  I feel good that he is my neighbor.  He keeps his curtains pulled back.

  They are a red and white floral design, very old, something from the fifties.  I can remember having those curtains in my house as a child.  Maybe they are my family’s curtains.  I feel that anything is possible here.

  He has the fan on and I can hear the soft hum of it and the buzz of the sewing machine late into the night.

A young, very muscular woman wearing a tight white skirt and spiked red heels crosses the street to stand under the light.  Her dark hair is bleached out to a red gold color.  It catches flame under the lights.

David comes out on his porch. We watch. There is something strange in her movements.  Not quite female.  I look at David questioningly.  He shakes his head and says, es una carretera muy dura.


The first day I moved in here, I saw a young man hoist himself up on the adobe wall and slip through a tiny back window of the house behind me.  My dog barked wildly.  The man seemed to know the place.

  I stood there not knowing what to do, remembering my friends’ warnings about this neighborhood, break-ins, burglaries, drug-deals, and remembering my own insistence upon living in a “real” neighborhood.  I dialed 911.  The cops kept me on the phone while they dispatched someone.  I finally saw the cops across the street at the wrong address going through the bushes.

  People were coming out of their homes and staring.  I wanted to hide.  To stay safely tucked inside my house, but I had to go out onto the porch and yell, over here, on this side, behind me.  Six cops ran across the street, their holsters undone and flapping and surrounded the little house.  I went back inside and waited.

  Soon a burly, red-faced officer rang my bell.

It was the woman’s son, he reported in monotone.  I couldn’t tell if he was irritated or amused.  A bushy mustache concealed his lips.

Oh, I said feeling foolish.

It’s okay, he assured me.  Things like this happen all the time around here.  The neighbors watched me from their porches.  David smiled. I went inside. The bell rang again.  This time it was the young man.

  As I walked to the door, I thought, why didn’t I just mind my own business?  What have I done now?  I opened the door and he smiled.

“Thanks man, for callin the cops.  I keep my stereo and stuff at my mom’s cuz where I live it would get ripped off.

Uh, I hope the police didn’t hassle you, I said trying to sound casual.

No, but they gave my friend a hard time cuz he has a gun, but it’s cool man, it’s registered and everything.  My name is Ernie.  He extended his hand.  I took it for a moment, and he backed away.

A few nights later, I’m on the porch watching the moon and the inky blue sky and the hookers working 6th Avenue.  He pulls up in his Chevy, gets out and comes up to the fence.  At first I don’t recognize him.

Hey, it’s Ernie.  Did you see the fire?  he asks.  I shake my head.

These crazy dudes set my brother’s bike on fire, man, right over there” and he points to the alley next to my house.

“I didn’t see anything. I just got home.”

“I’m gonna get em. He says, heading back to his car.

Be careful, I say and my words are blown away in a soft wind.

He pulls his noisy machine into the alley.  The car grinds, sputters and throws sparks of flame that burn up into the gauzy night air.  Men freeze.  Boys stop.  Women come to the edge of doorways and listen.

  A siren.  Crying.


Tonight David is sitting in front of his house talking with a man in a wheelchair.  The moonlight hits their faces as they speak in a language I can only pretend to understand.  The man in the wheelchair smiles at me and offers his hand.

  I try to remember my small Spanish.  Como esta usted?  I ask David about material.  Something for my windows, I tell him, so people passing can’t see in.  He laughs and nods his head yes.

I retreat into the darkness and look out at the street.  Try to get comfortable.  Try to understand my neighbors, their movements, their arrangements. There’s the girl again.

  She’s wearing a yellow dress tonight. She staggers toward the street. I don’t know how she can stand up, she’s so drunk.  But she’s got some guy hooked.

  He’s stopping his Toyota truck for her and she can’t be more than fifteen.


In the alley beside me, the woman in her barrio dress slams the door.  Somebody’s going to get it.  She whips out of the alley throwing gravel.  She’s at the wheel with words that can kill.

  Her husband makes it home later with inky blue tattoos and a scar.  This has been going on for some time now.  The screaming starts.

Shut-up, shut-up.

No, I’m not gonna shut-up. The voices hammer. They do this every night. No one interferes.

  Men pass in the alley humming, holding bottles of beer, a slow shuffle through the dark, dust creasing their palms and moonlit faces. The infant sleeps among sobs.


A Tarantula Wasp appeared today hissing its way into the yard and landed on the patio table where it made itself comfortable.  I reached out my back window with a can of Raid House and Garden and depressed the nozzle.  The huge bug was immediately engulfed in the white vapor.

  It retreated then, sputtering its way up and over the fence and out of the yard to find a place to recuperate.

I’m getting used to strangers and the black man asking, Hey, is that dog of yours really vicious?

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Yea, I say, she’s real mean.  And the other guy says,

I’ll bet she ain’t as vicious as me once I cut loose.  They stroll across the street. Street men.  Getting up off the sidewalk.  It’s too hot to just lie there riding a tidal wave of heat.

  And the lonely voice of a woman at my back window. She’s looking for her fix.  Her blue eyes frozen into a stare of dust, wind, and the metallic buzz of cicadas.

  And some crazy man comes by while I’m still on the porch and stops at the fence and starts jiving.

Jemme she me dogee she me do parlez vous franz sez a me.  You bark one mo time I’m gonna burn yo nose off,  he says pointing his cigarette at my dog. Izzat dog fine? he asks.

Yes, she’s fine. I tell him.

Spell FINE, he demands blankly.  I stare him down hoping he’ll lose interest and walk away.  I’m nervous, but there’s a fence and gate between us. Finally, he puts his hand up and mumbles, “Awright, awright, I’m goin” and he shuffles out into the middle of the street and stands there waiting for a car to hit him.  One comes, pulls up alongside him, and he begins his jive talk again.

  The car revs its engine then speeds away.  I take this opportunity to go inside.


In the middle of the night, the family behind me moves out. When I wake up there is a stillness in the air, a certain lack of pressure and tension.  The windows are completely empty, and I peer over the fence into the rooms where shafts of morning light hit the bare floors and dirty walls.  Voices screaming and objects breaking and the infinite whine of the TV are gone.

I take a deep breath, inhaling the silence.

Each morning I get up in front of twenty-five people who are trying to learn English and ask, what did you do yesterday?  We go around the room. They have come by boat in the night, been robbed by sea pirates, had loved ones shot and …, escaped terrorists and crossed the mountains in Afghanistan to get here.

  When I hear their stories, it makes me wonder how I got into this classroom.  It makes discussing How To Use Would In Polite Conversation seem ridiculous.


I think about the girl in the yellow dress today.  She climbs into someone’s CRX, black with a red stripe along the side, big, husky tires, tinted windows.  The license plate reads CROOZE -6.  They whisk around the corner and down the alley in the heat.  It’s 12:00 noon and getting hotter.

  Later, I see a different woman at the corner.  She’s got red spiky hair and she’s wearing cut-offs and a black muscle shirt.  I want to scream at her to go home, to stop this, and I want to ask where the girl in the yellow dress is, but I can’t.

Instead, I stare at her and the car in voiceless rage.


There is a man in the deserted house behind mine.  I notice when I go into the kitchen.  I can see his arm moving up and down along the wall as though he’s painting.  I have my windows open because no one has been living there for some time.

  I have been moving around the rooms …, feeling relaxed. I wonder if he has actually seen me. How long has he been watching?  As I shaved my legs?

  As I stood at the bathroom mirror combing out my wet hair?  I go into the closet and put on some clothes. I walk back into the bathroom ignoring him, pretending not to notice, hoping he’ll disappear, then I quickly pull the curtain over the window and turn out the light.

  My heart is beating hard.  I sit there for a moment till it slows down.  I have an urge to take the hose and squirt water all over his fresh paint job.  Or go to the fence, pull myself up to it so I’m eye level with him and simply stare.

  When I look back out the window, he’s gone.

A stranger carefully unlatches my front gate, runs the full length of the porch, grabs the clay pot with ocotillo and dashes back down the steps and disappears.   At one o’clock in the morning, a stranger unlatches my front gate and moves into the yard so quietly my dog doesn’t hear.  He moves from window to window hoping to see something.  David, returning from the disco, yells at the man, salia, ella es mi amiga!  The man hurries from the yard.

  The cops come. The helicopter hovers. A report is made. My dog and I sleep through it all.

The next morning, David tells me the story and describes the man — small, Mexican, wearing a red-plaid shirt, and walking with a limp.


The wind rattles the trees against the fragile panes of an old adobe.  I stare out to an ancient house of stone and sometimes a man emerges from inside.  The windows are boarded up and look like an empty billboard waiting for a message.  The man moves into the hot dark of Saturday night.

  Beer bottles, cans and paper bags are tossed out car windows and into the vacant lot by the house.  Shattered stars in grass.  Low-riders move upstream and fat-tired trucks bump sound.

  Night welds itself to the sky as car lights dance down the man’s back.


Every morning now I’m awakened by the sound of hammering, sawing. They are remodeling the row of adobes behind me, men on the roof lifting, shouting, cursing each other, spitting dirt in the wind.

Every night the young women go to work and the old women, too.  The pretty and not so pretty.  One blonde woman was on the street for a while, but the other day she passed my house and I could see she was pregnant, and I heard her tell the man she was with, when the baby gets older, we’ll switch him from milk to juice.


Two women dodge the cops walking way up past OK Market.  One of the women is wearing very short cut-offs.  Her … sags, hanging partially out of her jeans.  She has a tough expression on her face, tense and business-like.

  The other woman, tall and gangly in her yellow shorts and tank top, is looser in her movements, more relaxed.  They make their way down 4th Avenue hurrying to find a place to hide.


The young prostitute stands in the alley holding a pair of men’s jeans. It’s the girl of the yellow dress.  She keeps looking at them, holding them up to the evening sun, waiting for them to dry.  She watches me pick up trash that she and her customers have dropped during the night.

  I wonder what she thinks of me and my clean-up, which is completely futile here along the alley.  She smiles at me as I come close enough to see her face.  She is so young and doll like.  Her brown doll’s body blows in the wind and casts a shadow across my own in the furious heat of the evening.  Blue light.

  Blue smoke.

A heavy tropical beat of a Caribbean song or a windy melody from the Cape Verde Islands.  I hear the clanging of bells and congas.  Someone is sitting in his car in the alley playing the music as loud as he wants.  For a moment, the bells and drums intrude on the Big Action Movie I’m watching.

  I think it’s the neighbors, but when I open my back door, the engine starts up and the driver cruises on down the alley. Bells, cymbals, drums fade to a soft hum.

It’s late.  The neighborhood is quieting down.  I go back inside and move closer to the window for air, for a taste of water so far from this desert.  I turn my head to the windy side of the window and look out.

  Stars bristle against my cheek.  The sky looks like the sea turned upside-down.  There are a few clouds.  The moon is frosty and cool-looking even in this heat.

  Light falls onto everything, the gold bicycle, the chain-link fence, the garbage cans, the spotted cat, and the woman stepping from darkness into the street.

MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)
MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)
MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)
MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)
MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)
MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)
MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)
MIA ELECTRIC Mia Electric 18kW Auto 3dr / Electric (av UK mix)

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