One of these days, I’m going to go over and introduce myself to my new neighbors.
A few months ago, the woman who lived next door to me was killed in a drive-by shooting. I had often seen her sitting out on her front porch smoking cigarettes for the year or so that she and her three children had lived in the house next to mine. She was a young, pretty African American woman with very well-behaved kids — two boys and a girl, all under 10. She had a boyfriend who was there some of the time. The boyfriend was very outgoing and usually had a big smile on his face. He chatted with me a few times — he was a driver for a towing company in Compton and I had once told him the only tow truck story I have in my repertoire. She was quieter than he was, but would usually give me a little wave whenever I pulled into my driveway.
The family was a welcome change from the psychotic weirdo and his perpetually angry girlfriend who had lived in the house previously. This other guy stalked the young neighborhood boys — slowly driving along side of them in his car as they rode their scooters down the sidewalk, glaring at them and cursing them. What the hell?? I saw him do this on a couple occasions and took to calling the police regularly to report this and other threatening behavior he exhibited, such as pacing in his front yard, swinging numchucks over his head on any given day. He seemed to want all the neighbors to know that we had better not mess with him. Why would we want to?
His mad-faced girlfriend would occasionally come out and fanatically spray, what I think must have been pet repellent, around the bushes in front of the house whenever a stray or our little cat, Sassy, wandered into their yard. Sassy didn’t know any better — the neighbors before them had put food out for her. They LIKED her to come over.
When these two whackos finally moved out, many of us on the block were very happy. And relieved.
After a year of truly enjoying the new family with the friendly-enough adults and polite children, a few months ago I was shocked and saddened to hear that the young mother had been killed by a bullet from a passing car as she was coming out of a local mini-mart. Hit in the chest and died at the hospital a few hours later.
Within a week and a half after her murder, the house was empty again. Her poor, bereft children went to live with their poor, bereft grandparents. I have a picture, permanently etched in my mind now, of their young mom sitting on the porch, never growing any older.
I wish I had taken the time to walk across the yard and say hello. I didn’t know her well, but God I miss her.
Originally posted on Black-Eyed Pea Cake Tasters.