“There she was just walking down the street singing do-a-diddy-diddy-dumb-diddy-doo”. And yes she does look good that dear Barbara; especially for her age!
Of course her name isn’t actually Barbara, well it could be, but that isn’t important. Most of the neighbors around here are simply friendly faces I have taken the time to observe and name. By most, there are a few odd balls or stressed out humans who hurry by screaming and yelling to get their kids, spouses or animals in line.
Starring out my window is like having my own personal reality tv show. No, I am not a stalker – per say. I am a stay at home mom whose little one is extremely independent which allows me to do house work while glancing out the windows to enjoy the weather or the new “drama” happening on the street.
Every soul who passes by the house has a name. Some appropriate for age some appropriate for their behavior. There is as mentioned Barbara who lives across the street who is approximately 80 years old. She lives with her best friend Gladys. They enjoy long walks in the sun and putting out the craziest holiday decorations.
Next door to them I have dubbed the family the “Bates’”. An older woman spends her days rocking back and forth in the front parlor window – Norma and her son lives with her and takes care of her; who I have named Norman.
Perhaps the reference may be lost on some but these names came calling to me as they remind me of the odd family dynamic portrayed in Alfred Hitchcock’s “Psycho”. Sure, they could be nice people but no one will ever know as they have never been seen leaving the house. The only individuals who come to their door are either the mail man or the delivery drivers for fast cheap greasy food.
Next door on our right is was the block has deemed as Mr.Fix It. All residents on this road turn to him for their small repairs or help with their cars. He must be that good right? I am convinced the primary reason is he is approximately mid-twenties with rock hard abs and his face is very easy on the eyes.
We do have our occasional small talk together since we seem to be around the same age and have similar interests in sports; as fa as I know. We do not converse as much as the neighbor on my left and him do. Single mother of two little girls who constantly run ramped in their house and the streets. You can hear them screaming and shrieking from outside and their frazzled mother yelling after them.
I can’t quite put my finger on why she is always so frustrated and angry when she spends most of her days flirting with Mr.Fix It. Whether it be making him breakfast lunch or a quick beer she is outside in the yard viciously spying on his every move for her chance to pounce.
She has no name. It varies from day to day. Not one seems the perfect fit for her. Psycho, hooker, ignorant, whatever the day brings is the name I bestow upon her.
Where am I going with this? The point is not to say that I too have lost my mind being inside educating my child feeling like the walls closing in. Absolutely not. Most days we to are often out and about I can only imagine the names others have dubbed me.
After watching most of the streets every move every day you start to notice certain discrepancies and odd tendencies. Furniture being loaded and unloaded into trucks, neighbors gone missing for days… Something is going on here but with who and what are the pieces that get missed from peering out the window. Once seemingly happy faces have turned to frowns. Neighbors ignoring one another instead of waving the polite hello. Hustle and bustle all around us. But why? The holidays are over, it’s not moving season either. Something fishy happening on this quiet Suburban Street and perhaps I am the only one who has noticed.
To really hone in on what could possibly be happening here is a small background of the serene area we live in. Families and the elderly live on this very busy suburban street. Generally it is a calm quiet area unless someone is throwing a birthday or block party. Across from us we enjoy the beautiful view of the river and what has been named by our elders in the city- the boardwalk. Endless bike trails and trees surround us and the nature we try to preserve such as our bird sanctuary.
There is no connecting street behind us. We enjoy the laughter of kids playing in a field. The occasional Wednesday night dance party by the water. On the weekends there are sporting events you can hear those involved screaming for miles with excitement. The field isn’t misplaced at all. It houses a large mental illness hospital as well as all of its facilities.
From my description hopefully it portrays the calmness and true joy it is to live is this quaint little neighborhood. Now that a description of the area has been laid out, let’s go back and figure out what could possibly be happening in the neighborhood.
Daily routine; wake up, feed my son his breakfast, go to the living room for some morning news and open the curtains. As he plays on the floor I sit sipping my coffee starring into the abyss outside. Everything is still, there is no movement, you might even say it is a ghost town.
The peace and quiet is always much appreciated in the busy day to day routine. However for a few days now I am starting to believe we might be the only two individuals who are still living and breathing on this street.
In order to make sense of this let us go back to the beginning…
Being a stay at home mom I have begun to notice things and people who are always around outside, sitting on their balconies, or carefully decorating for the up coming holiday or solstice.
It all began with an obsession with “Barbara and Gladys”. They fist caught my attention during the summer sitting outside on their porch enjoying a tea and conversation. At first I thought oh how sweet two sisters who live together. Upon further inspection and nosiness I became to understand that they are best friends and also neighbors.
Each morning they have their tea together while watching the hustle and bustle of those going to work or school. They great the mail man and all the daycare children who pass by. All in their fabulous bath robes I might add.
After their tea, they retreat indoors to (which only I can assume) enjoy their favorite program of price is right and have a bite to eat for lunch. The afternoon is when they are most busy. Whether they are decorating the balconies or gardening, even mowing the lawn they are together and having a complete blast. Did I mention they are in their 80’s?
Once the front yard is to their liking some days they leave walking quite briskly for their age to either the mall or to do groceries. As their reward and dusk begins to settle back on the porch they go with another cup of tea until bed time.
A few weeks ago a large moving truck was parked out front of their place. I watched appliances being hauled away and hadn’t seen them for a few days. I was grief stricken thinking the worst had happened. But then poof like magic there they were, Barbara and Gladys best friends forever out and about.
All was fine and merry until a few days ago. No one had been seen, no lights have turned on and no decorations had been changed…
Norma and Norman. Oh the Bates family… I understand it may sound demeaning or horrid to have named them as such, allow me to explain.
“Norman”, a man in his mid 40’s, lives at home with his mother “Norma”. Every morning Norman opens the curtains in the front room to let some sunshine in. He then helps his mother walk to her favorite lazy boy. After tucking her in her blankets he brings her breakfast on a TV tray. Then he disappears.
Norma sits idly by watching passer byers come and go. She never goes outside. She feels the sunshine on her face through the window, sadly that’s as far as she comes to actually enjoying the outdoors. Then comes lunch rinse and repeat. Norman brings lunch, she eats, he disappears, she stares out the window.
Supper time their routine is a bit different. And by a bit I really mean a smidge. Norman joins Norma for dinner, however, instead of starring out the window they watch a TV he rolls into the front room. They sit side by side, until one can only imagine, Norma is ready for bed and the curtains close the show is over with no standing ovation needed.
Around the same time that Barbara and Gladys had disappeared the curtains stopped opening. Months had gone by with the same routine – curtain open in the morning, sit and stare, eat, curtains close at night. All of a sudden the routine came to brisk halt. Days turned to weeks and no one had ever opened the curtains.
Which made me start to believe (or go insane thinking) that perhaps she was deceased this whole time. Norman did preserve his mother and kept her locked away in the house behind their motel. Could this be the same scenario and he was finally caught or just got tired of the charade? Then again what does that have to do with Barbara and Gladys?
Oh Mr.Fix It. If only I could paint the most beautiful painting with words but this will have to do. Mid 20’s, gym nut – he has abs for days front and back. His face is young and tender. The whole package minus a couple marbles missing upstairs if you know what I mean. I think the term is Mimbo? Male bimbo.
I digress. His routine is less stable. Depending on the day he will be outside working on his cars, garage, yard, house it doesn’t matter. If it looks like it needs fixing he’s outside doing it. Shirtless and when it is really hot outside, scorching hot, he tends to come out in his underwear.
Did I mention he is the go to guy for the entire street? I’m assuming you can imagine why. When he is not fixing something he is walking his gorgeous “manly” Doberman or playing volleyball down by the public pool. The neighbors all know him and say hi or rush to their windows when they see him strut by.
The buzz about his disappearance started first. Have you seen him? No have you? Maybe he’s at work? Maybe he’s on vacation? The panic and questions kept coming and going. Frazzled voices were heard through all my windows.
Originally I thought, yes this kid has a life other than fixing whatever it is you “broke” or working shirtless in the hot son. What peaked my curiosity was the dog. She disappeared too. Rationalisation took over between the neighbors and secretly myself. He must be on vacation and took his dog. Well what vacation lasts over a month and then some? He was the first to go.
Finally, the last to go was “whats her name”. Sometimes she works sometimes she doesn’t. Her kids are constantly running a muck and screaming while on her days off she sits on her patio smoking dope. Yes she has 2 young children yet prefers to do drugs then spend time with them.
That isn’t her only pass time. Mr.Fix It caught her eye quite quickly and she has been on the prowl ever since. Someone with no regard for the others who live on the street or her kids. A true narcissist. It only makes sense she would be the last to disappear. The most annoying, ignorant one is who we get stuck with for the longer haul.
Not much to say about her since I was taught if I didn’t have anything nice to say don’t say anything at all. I should stop now before I overstep boundaries and perhaps judge too quickly. Maybe she had a rough life that we don’t know about and this is her starting over. I am not saying I am mother of the year just that my son comes first not drugs or the hot young guy next door.
One day it all went quiet. Little by little the neighbors disappeared the houses went dark and quiet. Honestly it is once “that woman with no appropriate name” left that it became noticeable. No cars passed, no lights came on. My son and I were alone in the world, but why?
I was woken up abruptly by someone banging on my door. I couldn’t quite seem to get out of bed without a struggle. It didn’t feel like mine, yet it was so dark in the room I couldn’t really make out where I was. I could be dreaming, sure, but sleep paralysis was never something I was accustomed to.
Somehow, someway this stranger made his way into my bedroom. I retreated as far as I could into my bed but hiding was no option. Why is he talking to me? Why does he know my name and where is my son?This stranger placed a tray of food down on what is not the kitchen counter I remember. How long had I been here? Once he opened the window slowly but surely the memories came back to me. Long gone were the days of raising my son and spying on the neighbors. Nothing happened to them I just begun to forget about them over time. The timeline is still unclear but seeing my face in the mirror I can confirm I am no longer the young stay at home mother.
Looking out the window the field isn’t behind my house but smack dab in the middle of it. I have been sitting in the window day dreaming of days that passed. I am in the mental illness hospital wondering how I got here in life.
Stranger doesn’t want to converse with me over the past, he’s acting agitated and startled. How many times have a relapsed like this? No matter the case, I will just slip back into my dream land where life was beautiful and serene. ….. Rinse and repeat…..