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Friday, April 18, 2014

Crouching in the Dark

I grew up in a trailer.

We moved once a year, sometimes more than that, one dirt-road court after another.

“It’s harder to hit a moving target!” Dad crowed.

The lack of sustained contact influences one, as you would suspect it would; and I compensated by developing a rather dangerous habit.

I became a Peeping Tom.

Don’t get me wrong! I wasn’t the peeping-in-the-bedroom type, and I wasn’t the I-hope-I-catch-you-showering type.

That would be wrong.

I just stood outside of people’s living rooms, looking in.

No big deal.

At the time, I told myself that those people wanted to be seen. Why else would they leave lights on, drapes open, in a trailer park? In hindsight, of course, they could hardly have been expecting the child that crouched in their bushes.

I just wanted to know the people around me.

But I would not be in any park long enough to know any of the people in it.

And I would not be remembered.

Who were these people, these new neighbors of mine? I watch in the waning light of an autumn evening as the bikers two trailers away from ours pull a mirrored tray out from under the couch as they cut straws in half.

The windows were open.

“I used to use Burger King straws,” said the dark-eyed one as he slid a driver’s license up and down the mirror. “But I find they lack the finesse of your McDonald’s straw.”

“What’d he say?” asked the girl lying on the floor in front of the TV.

The blond one answered. “He said he finds that the BK straws lack finesse.”

The girl rolled on to her back and lifted her legs toward the ceiling, her hands at the small of her back. “What’s that? What’s binesse?” she said.

The dark-eyed biker put an index finger to one side of his nose, closing off a nostril, and used the straw in question to snort the line he had just laid out.

“It means – “ he stopped short, and his eyes went to the living room window. He lifted a finger, motioned to the front door. The man seated on the stacked beer cases rose quietly.

Heart pounding, I slid out from under the bushes and ran down to the darkness of the creek that ran behind the trailers.

The screen door slammed as I flew into our living room.

My mother called out from the kitchen. “Where have you been?”

“The bikers two doors down prefer McDonald’s straws to Burger King,” I panted.

“Discerning,” my mother muttered. “Wash up for dinner.”


Should Fish More said...

Well, I grew up a bit low-rent too, but you out-rednecked me here. Never lived in a trailer, but there was Olympia beer and duct tape a-plenty.

Sounds like we both did ok, maybe learned a little on the way.

jenny_o said...

I spent my teen years in a trailer, too (it was a step up from where I lived before that) but no trailer court for us - we were too far out in the country to have such things.

Unsure whether McD's could use the bikers' preference as a selling point or not ...

You were always a watcher of people, were you not? You had my pulse rate up a bit at the end there.

joeh said...

You are still a Peeping Tom, and your observations of life capture a side that those of us with blinders miss.

Aloha Acres said...

This one gave me chills. That could have ended so differently for you. Glad you lived to tell about it.

Yamini MacLean said...

Hari OM
My early years were out of a caravan too - but always solitary and countrified. Not that it meant there wouldn't have been strange things going on in the bushes...

I agree with Say What?. This was a breath-holding moment for the reader. Glad it didn't cure you of curiosity though! YAM xx

Steve said...

You learned alot over the years.

vanilla said...

And yet you survived into adulthood.

Watson said...

... following Vanilla's statement I would add ... so glad that you did. I think you not only survived, but you developed a wonderful gift for telling stories - even if they do sometimes cause my heart to skip a beat.

Connie said...

Run, Pearl, run! :-) Sometimes it is better not to know who your neighbors are.

Have a great weekend!

Elephant's Child said...

I am still a watcher - and an eavedropper too.

Geo. said...

I suspect much of what we learn in youth involves skulking and scampering.

Busy Bee Suz said...

Your memory for detail is amazing.
I spent a lot of time in trailer parks as a kid as well as bowling alleys. I think those might be the most interesting people on the planet.

Buttons Thoughts said...

I think Daisy summed it up for me too:) Hug B

Sioux Roslawski said...

Peeping Pearl. Or Pearl the Peeper.

I think that would make a great title for your next book. ;)

Suldog said...

That's what they get for leaving the shades up when doing lines. Some folks have no sense of decorum!

fmcgmccllc said...

I have never known a person whose mobile home was actually mobile. How refreshing. I love to look in the windows and watch and wonder.

Jo-Anne's Ramblings said...

Sounds like an interesting pastime for a child seeing how different families are to one's own.

River said...

Holey Doughnut! You almost got caught!
I'm glad you had enough sense to scarper.

"I just stood outside of people's living rooms, looking in" had me thinking of all the crime shows I watch where some "idiot" living alone comes home from work, usually after dark and goes about the house flipping on lights, changing clothes, cooking dinner or sampling the wine...all without closing any curtains or blinds, then in the next scene she is a murdered or raped victim...while I'm sitting in my chair yelling at the TV..."close the curtains, lock the door!"

Rose L said...

Bikers talking about straws??? Hmmm...makes me immediately think of drug use, ya know--snorting.
You were pretty brave!

Twisted Scottish Bastard said...

The lack of roots must have been quite scary for a child.

Catalyst said...

Eavesdropping is a life-long habit of mine. I remember the frustration I had when we toured Europe and when we lived in Mexico - not being able to understand what the nearby chatters were saying.

Slamdunk said...

Yikes--that is quite a memory. I have always enjoyed people watching, but realize it is best done at a public event or mall rather then me getting arrested while looking through a bay window and watching a family eat dinner. Haha.

Slamdunk said...

Yikes--that is quite a memory. I have always enjoyed people watching, but realize it is best done at a public event or mall rather then me getting arrested while looking through a bay window and watching a family eat dinner. Haha.