Neighbourhood Watch

by Shelby Molyneaux

“Gerald, they’re back!” I shout to my husband, knowing that he probably doesn’t have his hearing aid in again. That man will be the death of me, if not these delinquents across the pond.

“What’s that?” He shouts back at me from the kitchen.

“The men with the cars are back! Come here and look, you ninny.”

I can hear his heavy feet clomping across the kitchen floor before I see him enter the living room, his finger digging in his left ear. “What’s all this, then? Why’re you shouting?”

I sigh, exasperated with the man who refuses to wear his hearing aid, knowing full well that he can’t hear a damned thing without it. But he’d rather be upset with me for mumbling or never having told him something, than admit he’s getting old. “Those hoodlums that’ve been up to no good at the pond, they’re back.” I pull back the curtain enough that he can see, but not wide enough that the men across the pond will notice us spying through the window. Well, not spying really, that’s what Gerald calls it. I like to think of it more as monitoring.

“Ooh, whitewalls,” is all he has to say about the line of cars that have just pulled up across the water, and I elbow him in the side. “Ouch,” Gerald says, rubbing his ribcage. “What was that for?”

“These men are up to no good, I tell you Ger. No good at all.” I turn to my left and see my husband looking at me in disbelief. “Now don’t give me that look, I know what I’ve seen, and those young men are up to something.”

Gerald rolls his eyes and closes the curtains abruptly. “Let them be, Faye. They’re just kids, enjoying the sunshine.”

I ignore him, knowing in my gut that he’s wrong, and slide the curtain open a bit so I can keep monitoring the situation. Who else is going to look out for the neighbourhood, if not me?

He points across the water to the group now exiting the cars. “See that? They have their swimsuits on, they’re just trying to have a little fun.” He squeezes my shoulder lovingly, then turns around. I can’t argue with him as he heads over to his favourite pea-soup coloured recliner, since he’s not wrong; they do have their swimsuits on, and they are probably just out today to enjoy the sunshine. 

Looking at the young women, I’m reminded how much I don’t like these new swimsuits. In my day, there was such a thing as modesty. Nowadays, the suits these girls wear are so revealing and precariously perched on their bodies that it makes me wonder exactly how one is expected to swim in them without some sort of mortifying wardrobe malfunction. Though, to be honest, I’ve never seen any of these girls get in the water; they mostly just lounge on the grass, getting tanned and showing off their slim figures. 

But something just doesn’t feel right about these young men, especially the one that drives the car with the “whitewalls” as Gerald calls them. He’s always got a black leather jacket on, even on the hottest days, and I’ve seen him handing something to the people that walk up to him, so I’m fairly certain he’s dealing drugs, though I wish I had a pair of binoculars so I could get a closer look. 

Once the girls get settled into their tanning spots on their towels, the men light up their cigarettes and turn up the volume on their car stereos. I can hear Bill Haley & the Comets from here, so I know they have the music turned up obnoxiously loud. 

I’m still looking out the window, squinting at the man in the leather jacket, when I notice my foot tapping to the beat of Rock Around the Clock. I slap my hand down on my leg, stopping it in its place. I’ll admit to myself that I like the song, but I don’t want Gerald to see me enjoying anything to do with these troublemakers; he’d never let me live it down.

I look over my shoulder at Gerald napping peacefully in his recliner, then turn back to the window. And just in time too! A young boy I recognize from church, a twelve year old named Danny Singer, is approaching the leather-clad hoodlum, and I find myself wondering where his parents are. No boy this young should be using drugs. He shouldn’t even know what they are yet; he’s just a child. He’s probably seen these young men, surrounded by beautiful girls, driving fast cars, and listening to rock music, and wants to be like them. Well, I won’t stand for it. 

I pull on my loafers, wrap a shawl around my shoulders, and head over to cross the pond. If they want to behave this way, I suppose that’s their decision, but I won’t let these delinquents drag down an innocent young boy like Danny.  

Danny is the first to see me making my way across the pond, and he waves at me as if nothing untoward is going on; what an innocent young boy, he doesn’t even realize that buying drugs is illegal. Don’t worry Danny, I think to myself, I’ll put you back on the straight and narrow

“Hey, Mrs. Evans!” Danny says with a smile on his face, waving me over. 

“Hello, Danny,” I reply as I tousle his hair. “What are you doing out here with these…fellows?” I almost feel as if I have to yell over the music blaring through the open car doors. One of the young men must notice the volume of my voice, so he reaches through the passenger side of one of the cars to turn the music down. Well, at least one of these young men has some respect

“It’s a secret,” Danny whispers, “Don’t tell my mom. She’d be mad if she found out I was spending my allowance again.” Oh no, I think to myself, so this isn’t the first time Danny has bought drugs off of these criminals

“Yep,” replies the man in the leather jacket. “Danny here is one of my best customers.” He extends his hand and I’m so flustered by his kind voice, that I shake it. “Mrs. Evans, is it?” He smiles a very charming smile, then continues. “I’m Dave. Dave Walker. Nice to meet you ma’am.” 

This young man isn’t at all what I expected. Usually on crime shows, drug dealers try to hide their nefarious activities, and this Dave character is openly talking about selling regularly to a child. 

“You too Dave,” I say, not knowing how to respond. “So, what has young Danny purchased from you today?” I ask, trying to catch him at his own game. 

Danny reaches into his pants pocket and pulls out a thin piece of paper, about the size of Gerald’s drivers’ licence, and I think to myself my goodness, what new kind of drug is this? Then Danny hands the paper to me, and I can feel the blood rushing to my cheeks in embarrassment. I turn the paper over and realize that it’s not some new kind of drug, but a baseball card, for some rookie named Sandy on the Brooklyn Dodgers. 

I hand the card back to Danny, and tell him I won’t say anything to his mother, as long as I see him in church on Sunday. 

“You betcha, Mrs. Evans!” Danny yells back at me as he runs over to a group of boys his age, excited to show off his newest purchase. 

“He’s a good kid,” Dave says to me as I watch Danny go. “Any chance your husband is a collector? I’ve got a Roberto Clemente, and I’d bet my Chevy he’ll be a big star.” Dave, noticing the trepidation on my face, adds, “Could be worth a lot of money someday…”

“That’s very sweet of you Dave, but I don’t know much about baseball, and my husband isn’t a big sports fan.” Dave looks a bit disappointed, but he shrugs, seemingly certain he’ll be able to sell it to Danny once he gets next week’s allowance. 

“All right then. No harm in asking.” Dave smiles at me, and I can see now that I was wrong about him. His entire face lights up when he smiles, and I think to myself that he must not have to try very hard to get all these girls to spend their weekends with him. “Say, how ‘bout I walk you back to your place?” He offers. “You never know what kind of characters are out and about on a day like this.”