Thursday, August 03, 2006


Early in the morning he stands across the street from my building. One hand wrapped around a coffee cup, the other hand holding a cigarette, he paces in front of his building and looks up and down the street. Andy is 5'9''. His hair and moustache are all grey. In the summertime he wears camo shorts and a muscle t-shirt. At fifty something, he still carries himself with a pugnacious athleticism. His arms curl slightly by his sides when he's not holding a coffee cup. He rocks side to side as he walks.

Andy's prize posession is his Toyota SUV. He details it every Monday morning at 7. Over the two years that he's owned it, he's added a few modifications. There is now a fake airscoop on the hood. On the rear left quarter of the body he has placed decals that look like bullet holes at a glance.

When people walk by he glares at them.

When he worked, Andy was a corrections officer for New York City. I don't know what jail he guarded. Now he's out on permanent disability. He says he has a bum arm.

The parking space in front of Andy's house is his. It is a streetside parking space, the same as all the others on the block. But it is his. If you drive up the block while he is out and park in his spot, he will be upset upon his return. If he sees you taking his parking spot, he will scream at the top of his lungs and treat you like a perp at Rikers who's been done for statutory rape of a Dominican boy.

You will move your car. As you drive around the block you'll mutter, "What a fucking loser."

If Andy returns from a trip to Home Depot with a load of lumber or cinderblocks in the back of his truck, and you happen to be coming out of your house at the same time, he will cross the street to talk to you. Then he will say, "Buddy, can you give me a hand unloading some of this stuff? I got a bum arm."

Everyone on the block knows that he does this because he fears that spies will photograph him lifting cinderblocks and rob him of his disability pension. He has a hard time finding helpers.

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