People watching is the best show on earth...

Oct 29, 2008


. Oct 29, 2008


I am slumbering nicely after an emotional day. A close friend's father was laid to rest at Riverside National Cemetery and my last images behind closed lids at bedtime are of the flag presented to her mother by a soldier on bended knee. Grief is a mysterious emotion. An old woman's silent tears flow and yet she looks strong as an oak.

A bright yellow light awakens me, screaming through my bedroom window. An engine chugs. Clanging and rattling chains yank me into coherence. I peek through my blinds and see big plumes of exhaust rising in the cold early morning air. It is coming from a rumbling tow truck across the street.

The man quickly hooks my neighbor's SUV up to his tow truck, working deftly with chains and levers. I wonder for a fleeting moment if he is stealing the car. A light flicks on in the house. The man looks at the glowing window and returns to his cab. His muffled voice speaks into a radio. He returns to his levers and the SUV begins rising.

My neighbor comes out. On bare feet she walks slowly to the car, clutching her thin arms across her nightshirt. The man says something to her and she answers. She stops in her tracks on her lawn, near the sidewalk. She looks left and right, down the street, up to the night sky and then down at her feet.

The SUV jerks to a stop and hydraulics wheeze. The man lowers it back to the ground and motions the girl over. She unlocks the doors and retrieves a tote bag, some papers and a stuffed toy from the back seat. After closing the door, she gives him the key and wipes her face.

The man turns his yellow light off and flicks on flashing blue ones. His tow truck groans and again the SUV rises. Moments later, he climbs into his cab , revs his engine and slowly rolls away.

My neighbor has dropped her bag and papers on the grass. She stands alone on the sidewalk, clutching the small bear and watching her car disappear. I do not know her, but I know the car. It is already gone when I leave for work in the early morning and it does not return until long after I've finished my dinner. It carries two young children to and fro with their mother, and sometimes a friendly mutt bursts out of its hatch back.

I turn my head back from the disappearing tow truck to see the girl looking at my bedroom window. I feel like an intruder. Does she see me? Should I go outside? Stupidly, I wave at her. She does not wave back. She gathers her belongings, wipes her face again, straightens her hair and walks to her front door. The silhouette of a small child stands behind the screen door against the yellow light.

11 Whispers:

Jessie said...

That has got to be the most embarrassing thing for your neighbors to see happen to you.

Anonymous said...

How sad. Carol

Laura said...

So so sad....

cat said...

Oh that's sad - but I love your evocative style of describing it..

Jennifer said...


Vivienne said...

Hi Jessie, yes, I know she had to be terribly embarrassed and I'm hoping she didn't see me watching. I still feel stupid about waving and wrong for watching like a thief in the night. I was just so taken aback by what was happening. I know tough times are striking all over, but to see it right across the street is something else.

Thanks for commenting, Carol and Laura.

Cat, I'm glad you liked my writing. I sat down at the computer right away. I guess my emotions were still raw about it, because I typed through teary eyes.

Hello Jennifer. You said it.

luaphacim said...

I believe this is what the smug pundits on cable news shows like to call "the impact on Main Street."

My brother-in-law and his ex-wife had a few vehicles repo'ed toward the end of their marriage... never a fun experience. The worst part, for me, was that there was nothing on earth that I could do about it. C'est la vie, I guess?

NathanKP said...

That's very sad. If only we could help all the ones with trouble such as this, but it really isn't possible.

NathanKP - Imagination Manifesto

Andrea's Sweet Life said...

My neighbor is a repo man, and I'm often drawn to the vehicles up on his tow truck when I leave for the morning.

Who are those people? What does this mean for them? How did they react?

How very sad for your neighbor.

Nicole said...

Vivienne, you have the most beautiful way of writing something. I'm so sorry for your neighbor but almost glad it happened so we could read your words explain it to us.

I tagged you on my blog (you don't have to do it, I just picked you because I love your blog and your writing).

Macy said...

I really like your writing tone! But I feel sad for your neighbor.


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