Melodrama at DuskIt's a quiet day in the neighborhood. From below the horizon, the sunlight provides light while a slight breeze adds to the cool ambiance of a summer evening. Across the street some young men are playing Mexican "Rancheros" for my specific enjoyment. Birds are beginning to return to the trees to nest, adding to the music in the air.
I sit quietly out here near my huge pots of flowers with my laptop keeping an eye on things. And what am I doing? I'm protectin' the neighborhood. Almost, I wish I had one of the guns I had as a girl at home.
We live right beside the church. For this evening, we loaned the building to a local social service agency to give an informational seminar on immigration and immigrant rights. A University from Chicago sent a lawyer and some immigration specialists out to talk with people. There isn't much of a crowd. It's a frightening thing to admit that one needs such help. Families arrive slowly, reluctantly.
About an hour ago I came out of the building after helping set up tables, etc. There was a man in a cowboy hat and boots with a "Cowboy Up" tee-shirt in the parking lot examining cars. Did I mention he was a paleface?? In our neighborhood, anyone in a cowboy hat and boots is usually Hispanic, not white. But there were other suspicious things. In one had he had a pen; in the other he held a few 3x5 cards. From where I was, I could see a couple of license plate numbers on the card.
And when I said "Hello", he jumped like I'd pulled a gun. That's when the old "defender" persona sort of descended on me. I'd always been the protector of my sister and young cousins. It felt a bit like that. Like running a bully out of the neighborhood.
"I'm just waiting for somebody." He stammered at me. Even though I hadn't asked what he was doing. I should have.
I played it cool and just stood and watched him. Under the intense glare of my Wonder Woman-ish eyeballs, he didn't write down any more license plate numbers. (Maybe my eyeballs are more Annie Oakley-ish! Or Nancy Drew?)
It was a waiting game. A friend came out of the building (A social worker type, although at this point he is a teacher) and asked what I was doing.
I guess my wide-legged, arms akimbo stance looked suspicious to him. Or maybe it was that glint in my eyes. "I'm defending our territory." I explained that I was out-staring an intruder.
Together we just stood and chatted, always looking in the direction of the intruder who was now careful to keep to the sidewalk. Cowboy sauntered slowly down the walk. You could see he wasn't going to let US run him off. But he kept moving. And so did we. Always keeping him in view. Finally he retreated almost to the corner. We were very subtle, just walking casual-like and talking. Eventually a van drove by and picked him up. My friend decided to leave.
But, like a dog with a good bone, I'm not leaving my post. As long as there are pale-faced strangers in the neighborhood up to no good, I'm staying here. Armed with a laptop and a glare.
Makes me wish I had my Southern sisters up here.