Literary Yard

Search for meaning

By: Sally Smithson

They never liked Brad.  When they moved in, and they were lugging the cardboard boxes up the driveway, there he stood across the street.  His arms were crossed, and he was scowling.  They could see a toothpick in his mouth, and they could hear it, as he sucked on it with a loud clicking sound.   The click managed to convey disgust, but why, they wondered.  We just got here, Sally thought.

Tom decided to be friendly, so he walked across the street smiling.  It was a lovely autumn day, the kind where people think anything is possible.   He was just beginning to extend his hand when Brad turned on his heel and went into the house.  He got in one last click of reproach as the door closed behind him.  Go to the devil, Tom muttered as he walked back.  They finished unpacking.

They discovered Brad’s name because one day a woman appeared in his driveway and started screaming.  Brad, Brad, Brad, she shouted over and over and over.  This was early one winter morning when the whole world was still, with the sun breaking mildly over the horizon.  I know you’re in there, she screamed, but he did not come out.   Is she drunk, Tom asked, as he peered out the blinds.  I don’t think so, Sally answered.  Should we call the cops, he said.  Then the woman staggered down the street and disappeared.  Tom said with a laugh, you know he does look like what Brad Pitt will look like when he’s seventy.    

Then there was what they came to call the Snowplow Incident.  Late in the spring, when winter was still lingering in the air, they had one last snow, fluffy and soothing.  As they fell asleep, Tom asked Sally, do we even own a snow shovel.  At five o’clock in the morning, they heard a motor blasting outside, and it was Brad.  He was snowplowing his driveway, which had an accumulation of maybe four inches.  Doesn’t that violate some kind of snowplow policy, Tom wanted to know, as well as common courtesy.  Hell, it was still dark outside.  They could see the lights coming on in the other houses, flaming against the black night.   

That day, one of the neighbors went door to door, quietly asking about the Snowplow Incident, and there was a meeting in someone’s living room.  Ten people came, united in their annoyance with Brad.  They discussed the Woman Screaming Brad’s Name Incident and other events that preceded their arrival, such as the Riding The Lawnmower Incident, the Garbage Can Incident, and the Altercation with the Pizza Delivery Man.  Who will speak to him about this latest, they asked each other, and Tom volunteered.  After all, he told Sally, we live across the street.

When Tom knocked on Brad’s door, he could hear a television set humming inside, and he could smell some kind of meat cooking.  A carnivore, naturally, he smiled to himself.  First, he tried three quick little raps, not too aggressive.  He heard someone walking towards the door and stop just on the other side, so he waited.  There was no peephole, yet he felt certain that he was under observation.  Still, the door did not open.  So he knocked again, five knocks, at a good strong time-to-open-the-door volume.   Nothing happened.  

Tom decided to call out his name, again with healthy bursting volume, Brad.   Only silence.  So he walked back towards his house, moving quickly because now he was angry.  Just after he set foot in his driveway, the door opened, and Brad fired a BB gun at Tom, missing his leg by a few inches.  Tom and Sally checked into a hotel that night, and they paid a moving company to empty their house of all its furniture.  Two weeks later, they sold the house.  The neighbors who remained behind referred to it as the BB Gun Incident.              

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