Kevin lived across the street from us. We saw him from time to time headed for his jeep, the same make as ours. We waved, he waved. Sometimes a black lab stayed with him and they played Frisbee in his backyard.
At night in our upstairs bedroom, we lowered the shade because light from Kevin’s desk lamp across the street fell exactly into our eyes as we lay in the big four-poster of our room. Kevin’s silhouette hunched over the computer; he didn’t have a shade. When one of us did an early dawn bathroom trip, Kevin was still there. We didn’t wave at night; that would have felt creepy.
At Christmases, we put a basket of baked goods on his porch. He put a nice card – the kind you buy special from Hallmark – on the windscreen of our Prius.
Kevin put up the Biden sign first, then we put up ours. They stood like pillars across the street from one another, flanking cars. We counted nods versus single-finger salutes.
And then one day I watched Kevin pull his car into the wide driveway of his home across from ours—and miss. Ours is a busy street. He backed up to try again as some driver whose time was more important than anyone else’s hit the horn to signal inconvenience.
Kevin took three tries to get into his drive. Days passed – almost a week exactly—before three cop cars parked alongside our house, another in his drive; no sirens blared. They weren’t in a hurry.
A few minutes later, Jack asked the policeman walking back to his car at the end of our driveway, “Is Kevin dead?”
The officer nodded. Jack didn’t want details and the police didn’t offer any.
The house went up for sale, listed cheap as “an excellent investment.” Every time we looked, hordes wandered about inspecting windows, tut tutting over the front lawn’s misshapen bushes, pointing at gutters dangling like accusations from the house. The realtor parked at 7 am and drove away at 7 pm; when it became evident the front door stuck, the savvy realtor left it open all day.
We wondered which ones would be our new neighbors.
The sign came down. Work vehicles arrived. The bushes were trimmed, front door replaced. Stuff began to appear on the front lawn, with a sign that said “FREE PLEASE TAKE.”
Jack and I watched people stop by and dwindle the pile. As dusk fell we walked over and looked at the remainder atop a ripped-out cabinet. And took home a small glass mug engraved KEVIN.
Kevin, we hope you enjoyed your life. Your mug on a shelf in our living room gathers dust and throws prisms. Life is like that, isn’t it? We will reach out to the new neighbors once they move in, because your mug reminds us to make friends while we can in this short dust-and-prism-filled life.