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Monday, November 5, 2007

What a Wacky World

I’m reading Write Great Fiction: Plot and Structure by James Scott Bell. In the chapter on getting plot ideas, tip No. 11 is “Noodling the Newspaper” for snippets that can be turned into plot complications. I’m telling you, the last couple of weeks around here I’d like to add another venue for ideas. Let’s call it “Noodling the Neighborhood.”

I live in an established, middle of town subdivision. Nicely manicured lawns. Mature trees. Friendly folks—a few young families, but mostly middle-aged and retired people. Sedate. Not boring, just settled, okay? Until a couple of weeks ago, that is.

On a weekday morning, a woman traveling 85 mph on a 40 mph city street, crashed into a brick retaining wall, stopping short of the house on the other side. All this at 5:30 in the morning. Two blocks from my house. A lot of questions come to mind about that. Sadly, the woman perished in the crash, but I am curious about who she was and the why of it, you know.

The week of Halloween our neighborhood watch captain emailed everyone that there had been a confirmed sighting of a coyote in the neighborhood a few blocks north of mine. A coyote? In the city? We’ve had our share of possums, squirrels, and homeless cats, but that’s the first I’ve heard of a city-dwelling coyote around here.

All right, I’m still thinking about the coyote when Zelda, our little dachshund who is a self-appointed guard dog, does the usual yard patrol this past Saturday night. She zips over to the darkest corner of the yard, barking, barking, barking. Coyotes DO NOT jump eight-foot wood fences, so I’m thinking a rabbit or stray cat is the cause. She barks until she’s worn out, and I’m sick of it. We go to bed.

The next morning she beelines to the same corner and will not relent. I’m more curious now and decide to investigate. A crepe myrtle and cherry laurels anchor that corner of the yard with an open space in the corner for the gas meter. I peer through the branches and spot something behind the gas meter. A bag or something. I step closer. Not a bag. A garment of some kind. Leaning over I see that it is a brown plaid flannel something. Gag! Boxer shorts. How did those get there? They are soiled, and I’m pretty sure it’s not mud. Oil maybe? I’m hoping since the other alternative is way too gross to even contemplate.

Gingerly I pick them up in a clean spot and deposit them in the outdoor garbage can. Zelda is now happy. Nothing is invading our yard. All is well in her little doggy world. I scour my hands, of course, but I can’t get the absurdity of it out of my mind. Why did someone put their underwear in my backyard? Sick!

Today, I learn that a rash of car break-ins took place over the weekend. One occurred on the street behind me. During the night, my backyard neighbor heard someone talking on a cell phone outside her bedroom window. She got a description and reported the prowler. The next day she found two sets of car keys in her backyard--about ten or twelve feet from the spot where I found the suspicious flannel boxers. I don’t want to know the whole story. I want to feel safe in my little corner of my boring neighborhood where hardly anything ever happens. Besides, if I wrote about it, who would believe a tale about a bare-bottomed car thief being chased by a mangy coyote in the middle of the city? Get real.

Until next time, when I hope be just be noodling the newspaper for plot ideas.


Myra Johnson said...

Eeeeeeew! Boxer shorts???? But on the wild animals in the city thing, not long after we moved here last year, I saw either a bobcat or coyote strolling along outside our back fence with a dead squirrel in its mouth. And another time I'm certain I saw a coyote running around back there. We live on a greenbelt, so no telling what kind of wildlife is roaming our area!

Hope Chastain said...

That's why it's said that truth is stranger than fiction. Fiction has to make sense! LOL
Glad Zelda is all right!
Keep praying for your "boring neighborhood," that the Lord will keep it safe and put a hedge of protection around it. I will agree with you in prayer for that!

I've lived in huge cities, small towns, and now I'm in a rural area close to a city and a small town. It's just as strange around here as it was in the huge city!

Hope :-)

carla stewart said...

Thanks for the comments, Myra and Hope. With all the creeks and rivers around here, I'm not really surprised about the coyotes, but it is pretty unusual. As for Zelda, having a dog who loves her daily walks, we are out in our neighborhood most days. It's great to interact even on a casual basis with our neighbors and learn what we can do to stay safe or what to look out for. Most cities have crime, so that's not unusual, just a little unsettling when it seems so close. We're keeping more outdoor lights on. Appreciate your prayers, Hope. Now, back to my normal plotting schedule . . .

Erica Vetsch said...

I'm cracking up! A car thief who goes commando and forgets to put his cell phone on vibrate? LOL

So sad about the woman who perished in the crash. It does make you wonder what came before.

Stay safe and keep the guard dog handy!