who scraped the skin off!?
would’ve been a close one.
First light. Friday morning. I reached over & turned the volume down on David Sanborn ‘Backstreet’. I had spotted something & pulled up close to the curb, switching the engine off. The lawn was dead. Once it had grown thick & lush across the front of this stucco & red brick ‘San Bernardino’ monstrosity. Trash, leaves, and old newspapers had collected on the porch & the black wrought- iron railings were thick with cobwebs. I ran an experienced eye over the adjacent properties. Everything in its place. This early in the morning, I could scout & perform my recon with little threat of interference by neighbors. I was dressed like anyone else out here. I looked like I belonged. That is the key. Look & act like you belong, remove suspicion, wave ‘hello’ at neighbors & people generally leave you alone. It has worked for me.
The palm trees were thick & sagging with dried & dusty palm fronds. Stark red Bougainvillea grew across the brick wall surrounding the property. I checked the mailbox, front windows & assessed for human presence. The grass crunched underfoot & I immediately thought of the 2003 fires out here. With the heat & dessication occurring in ‘San Bernardino’, it only takes a cigarette & life changes drastically for people. The official estimate for homes lost in the 2003 fire was close to 1500. That’s a bunch of suffering.
I approached the side wall & peered through a broken wooden gate. I saw blue tiles. Pulling myself up & over, I checked for the presence of dogs & ‘threats’. It appeared abandoned. Trash bags of rotten garbage were stacked in a corner of the back patio. It seemed as though the owners just let things go. I saw indifference & abandon at every glance. Whoever lived here, didn’t care.
The pool was a great shape but the surface looked like some giant hand had come down and grated the surface off. It seemed as though the owners had wanted to re-plaster the pool but never got around to it. The transitions looked stellar & my only thought was “…messed up.” A large green lizard –startled by my intrusion–scurried across the deck, blinked & disappeared into the ivy growth. It was a fitting gesture, because whoever lived there had disappeared in a hurry.
Cereal bowls were sitting on the counter with green mold growing out of them. Toys, clothing & a broken television were in the kitchen, strewn about. The propane gas grill was squatting darkly on the deck by the shallow end…its propane tank long gone. The lid was in a corner of the yard. Half burnt fire logs were stacked on top of the grills grating like some obscene makeshift fire pit. In the corner beside the grills lid were about a hundred empty wine & liquor bottles. That explained it all to me. Messed up. Letting things go. Booze. Thus endeth the lesson. Skate-Ozzie