Thursday, August 18, 2011

The Neighbors

Holly and I have been in Fayetteville NC for a little over 2 years now.  Most of that time we've hung out on the front porch in clear view of the street.  I've got my laptop, coffee and cigarettes.  Holly is on a tether to keep her from detaining passersby for a thorough inspection.  (Maybe the TSA should hire her.)  Meaning no disrespect to exercise buffs, and totally meant tongue-in-cheek, I refer to them as "streetwalkers".  Oh come on, you should see some of the outfits they wear.  Still, it doesn't matter if they're covered head-to-toe in thermal fleece or flaunting shiny Spandex, it's my generic term for anybody running, jogging or walking.  Plus it gives me a chuckle when someone asks what Holly is barking at and I say a streetwalker; this is an upscale middle-class neighborhood. 

The neighbors who aren't scared of Holly venture into the yard to greet her.  She is a big girl; twenty-five inches to the shoulder and weighing in at 82 pounds.  Since she doesn't have a tail, cropped too short hence her nickname of Twinkle Butt, Holly tends to come across as imposing.  Mainly she's just doing her job, alerting me there's someone near.  For 2 years I've been answering questions about Holly.  Yes, she's friendly.  Yes,  you can pet her.  She's a Boxer  - Great Dane cross.  Do you think anyone asks about me?

Lately I've learned the neighbors had been leaving me alone because they saw the laptop and thought I was working.  Actually, that's pretty thoughtful of them.  Equally impressive is the range of occupations they've assigned me.  Because I'm frequently seen on the phone the majority decided I'm a customer service or sales rep.  Coming in a strong second is medical transcription and other home-based data entry type jobs.  Far down on the list are: web site designer, stock trader and online party host.  I think that last one came from sheer hopefulness that I could hook him up with a date.  Ah, maybe if he checked the mirror before leaving the house?  Even Holly winces at some of his color and pattern combinations. 

Earlier this year two of the neighbors discovered I write.  One of them has read Desert and has started The Privacy Fence.  I cut her some slack.  She's very pregnant, with twins, due anytime and trying to finish her last term of college before the babies arrive.  Note: remarkably none of the neighbors have assumed I'm taking online classes.  Interesting. 

People on the West Coast who know me always include the following warning when introducing me - "it is highly likely that anything you say or do will end up in a book."  For the record, this is true.  Also for the record, there are 3 fictitious characters in Desert: Kayla, James and Scott.  I changed occupations and last names of everyone else.  I might have used a bit of creative license in regard to physical appearance or marital status but only for the sake of the storyline.  See what you get when you say "I want to be in one of your books!" 

The neighbors here are so naive.  Totally out in the open I've been studying them for 2 years.  I guess they're so used to seeing me I now blend into the scenery.  While I can't say The Privacy Fence is about them, I will admit they gave me the idea for it.  It's simply amazing what I overhear. 

Heads up Fayetteville!  I've started a new novel and the chances are good that some of you will be in it.


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