If you’ve lived in a place long enough, stories begin to creep out of their dingy holes until all manner of foul creatures are known. -Intellectual Shaman
Neighborhoods that have soul, have stories. They’re told so frequently and by so many that they become a common language and legends form. Even with the rise of online shopping and city services, the neighborhood across from the Maplewood Golf Course insists on doing things their own way. This small alcove of suburbia is a last holdout from neighborhoods where people deal with each other through intermediaries. Modern dwellers in look-a-like houses have a habit of calling city workers when they notice their neighbor’s lawn is two inches too tall. Not in my neighborhood; the next-door-neighbor fires-up his lawnmower and trims it for you. Everybody here believes in attending garage sales and water co-op meetings. When the Cedar floods, the men sandbag into the night. Their wives bring them hot soup so the job gets done and the neighborhood is saved once again. Stories get passed from ear to ear when gardens are planted, hedges are trimmed, lawns are mowed, and cars are washed. The dog walkers spread local news like wildfire.
Kenny is the neighborhood delinquent and he’s held that title for over 32 years. His crimes began when he started swiping cigarettes from his grandma. Then he progressed to blowing up mailboxes. When I was 14 years old and my sister was still working at the golf course, Small Tom told her a story about a boy who lived in our neighborhood.
“It was a busy Saturday afternoon,” Tom said. “We didn’t have a cart kid that day, so I had to park golf carts in front of the pro shop any chance I got. Golf carts kept coming back dirty and I didn’t have the time to clean them. Only two clean carts were left. I pulled one around to the pro shop and walked back to get the second, but it was gone. I could see water marks where the tires had been; they led out of the golf course entrance and into your neighborhood.”
“Really?” My sister asked.
“Really.” Tom said. “I hopped into the Martial Cart to see if I could follow them, but they quickly disappeared. I kept searching and soon I saw this kid driving a golf cart like he was drunk. It was zig-zagging across the street and hitting trash cans. I would’ve honked, but there was no horn, so I had to shout. Hey YOU, STOP!” I yelled, but the kid only drove faster and tried to lose me. He cut across a neighbor’s back lawn so that he was driving parallel to the river. I followed him and began to close the distance ever so slowly. “PULL OVER!” I yelled, but he kept on driving. I rammed him from behind, but he didn’t seem to notice. We were quickly approaching a wooden fence and he didn’t have anywhere to go. This is the crazy part. He swung left, flying off the embankment into the river. A couple hours later they found his golf cart in Renton, washed up next to the municipal building. I called the police and told them to meet me in your neighborhood. When they arrived, I walked them through the story and we looked around. It wasn’t long until we noticed a water trail. Big drips and splashes of water led us along the sidewalk to a dingy house with gasoline cans in the back yard. I think they were siphoning gas. Anyway, we knocked on the door and a bewildered grandmother opened it.
‘Does a boy live here?’ The officer asked.
‘KENNY!’ His grandmother yelled.
And a boy who’d just taken a shower appeared in the doorway. Handcuffs went on without any questions. I guess the officer knew him. Months later, I met the police officer playing 9 holes. ‘What ever happened to that kid?’ I asked.
‘Oh, he spent a few months in Juvie and got out last week. Keep your eyes open.'”