We live in a very interesting neighborhood. One block northwest is a saloon, one block south is a middle school and a very popular park, two blocks south east is a mixed-martial arts academy. There seem to be churches everywhere.
Somewhere nearby, there is an old folks' home. The only reason I know this is that the residents are always cruising up and down our street in their little mobile scooters, one right after the other. They choose our street because we are one block off Old Rt. 66 (more popularly known as 6th Street, if you happen to live here). It's a busy place, so, rather than to brave the onslaught of traffic and possibly face their (untimely?) deaths, the old-timers find their way safely down my street and then turn down to 6th Street when they think they might come out close to where they need to be.
This makes for great people-watching and fascinating conversation.
There's a man, for instance, I call Cane. I have named him that because he walks with a cane and a big, ugly dog past our house every single day, no matter what. Snow, rain, heat or wind, Old Cane comes tap-tap-tapping down the street at the same pace, wearing worn out sneakers and a crooked smile. He's always unshaven and his clothes fit poorly, but he's friendly. He apologizes that his dog is so friendly, but it doesn't bother me much, and he always comments about the weather.
He doesn't visit 6th Street. He goes to see my neighbor across the way. I have made up a story in my head that he's my neighbor's uncle and they shoot the bull for about a half hour everyday, sitting in lawn chairs and talking about Aunt Griselda's pee-can pie and Obamacare and the War on Terrorism. I want to believe how nice it is that they're holding strong their family ties, and they make a habit of spending quality family time together. However, in all honesty, I think he's actually just buying a little "smoke" (if ya know what I mean). I mean, nobody likes their shaggy old uncle and his smelly, noisy dog quite that much.
Today, Old Cane said the weirdest thing to me as he passed by.
I wasn't sure I heard that right, since the sky is a nice cerulean blue, big white puffy clouds cheerfully dotting the sky today. I asked him, "Sorry, did you say a flood?"
"Yep!" He reaches into his shirt pocket and pulls out a plastic zip-lock baggy, which I thought for one horrible second was going to be marijuana, so I closed my eyes. (If I don't see it, I can't be a witness.)
But it was cigarettes. Not Marlboros or Camels. They were the sub-generic cheapazoid cigarettes-American Eagle, or some shit like that.
"I'm ready for it," he announced. I smiled and nodded, happy that I hadn't been exposed to his illegal drug habit, and confused about why he thought a flood was imminent. But he just smiled back at me, offering no explanation, content with the knowledge that his cigarettes would survive the disaster.
I came into the house and halfway listened to his cane tap-tap-tap down the street as I checked the weather forecast.
No Rain This Week...
Just in case, though, I put my Kindle in a zip-lock baggy.