by Rebecca Drake
The gas line is being replaced on my block, a process that seems to involve lots of huge vehicles, even more men and the solid roar of jackhammers and backhoes for several hour stretches each day. I put on headphones and try to pretend I don’t hear them. They knock on the door and politely ask that I move the car.
In one respite from the noise, I hear the unmistakable sound of water dripping. A leak has sprung in the tile roof and water is pouring through a crawlspace and down into my daughter’s bedroom.
A bucket is hastily put in place. A roofer is called. They come a week later, joining the line of company trucks outside, and mount their ladders outside my office window, climbing across my flat office roof to reach the section of tiled roof that needs to be repaired. Back and forth they go, back and forth, thump, thump, thump. My head throbs along to the beat.
In the stillness of the night, always near midnight and often at 3 and 4 a.m. too, the man across the street who suffers from insomnia, walks in and out of his house, letting his heavy screen door slam behind him. A jarring, sit-up-in-bed and say “what-the-f” kind of noise.
Several times a night.
I’m an advocate of gun control. I’ve participated in peace marches. I could at one point have been certified as a latter-day tree-hugging hippie. Now I could just be certified. I want to kill someone.
Should I pick the construction worker blithely tossing his empty coke bottles on my stretch of sidewalk? I could stuff him in one of the holes they’ve left and fill it up with gravel from the enormous pile sitting at the end of my road. They’ll never miss him.
Maybe the chatty roofer, who wants to explain exactly when I should call to get my gutters cleaned, instructions so complicated--call the main office and ask to be put on a schedule--that he needs to explain the process to me at least five times.
Smile, nod, agree that, yes, that’s the thing to do all right. Can’t let those leaves pile up because you’re bound to have more trouble down the road. Got to call now to get on that schedule. If you wait you won’t get on the schedule and then you’ll be waiting. Forever.
It’ll take less time than that for them to find him if I reach out my office window and give that ladder he’s standing on a little push. Whee-e-e. A short flight backwards through the air and he won’t be bothering me about the fall clean-up or any clean-up anymore.
Or maybe I’ll help the neighbor across the street with his little problem with insomnia. I’ll tiptoe over one night and wait for him. Just as he’s making his second trip outside, I’ll sandbag him and then I’ll bang his thick skull so hard in that screen door that he’ll be sleeping with the angels.
I’m thinking of posting a sign on my lawn: Beware of the Crime Writer!