Michael & The Lock

There was a knock at the door today. At my parents house we rarely get visitors and when we do they’re always expected. Protective in nature as I am I immediately made way for the door as I whimsically said to my dad, “Get the gun.” Before I opened the door I realized I was wearing sweatpants, slippers, a grey A-shirt (aka wife beater…….aka gr-A shirt) and an old Lake Tahoe zip-up hoodie that was unzipped…and I hadn’t showered in several days (hectic weekend, fine, judge, smell ya later.. er.. me…I smelled okay though according to me). I hurriedly zipped up my sweatshirt to give the illusion that I’m civilized for whoever was on the other side of the door. As I zipped I was instantly reminded of the broken zipper, leaving me with an open zip-up hoodie connected in the middle by a zipperhead. “GAHHH!” I thought to myself. The knocking persisted and sounded rather troubled so I jerked open the door despite my appearance to find a young man leaning against the stucco wall looking right at me. We made eye contact and there was a moment of silence. (And yeah I called him a young man because I’m in my 30s now and my back hurts sometimes.)

After a mildly judgmental stare he announced, “Okay so.. I hit your parents car.” Wtf? I thought to myself.. “I’ve gotta get to work but you guys already have my license and insurance information..” “Sorry what?” I interjected. “I hit your parents’ car,” he repeated. “I have to go to work,” he repeated. He was a little shaken up it seemed. I asked him to show me what he did … as we walk through the front walkway toward the driveway I think to myself how my car is the only one out there resulting in two simultaneous thoughts: “Figures he hits my car the day before I plan to trade it in for a new one sonofabitchhhhhhhh” and two: “Why’s he think it’s my parents car? What a dickhead 20-something he is!! I’M 30 and nearly independent from mumsy and pop pop!!! I CAN AFFORD A CAR I’M BIG!” Asshole.

We get into the driveway and it looks… totally fine. My car is in the driveway, I see no other car around. And I ask him, “Which car?” He points to a house across the street, two houses up. “That Altima in the driveway over there…” ………Oh… he’s crazy………”Why would you knock on this door when the car you hit is in another driveway you psycho?” I asked him in my mind. “Please don’t kill me you frickin’ weirdo,” I then thought to myself. Wow…. this was really happening. Awkwardness. Judgment. Fear.

He said it was parked in front of my house on the street earlier today when the accident occurred, and that he spoke with them already, and I guess just figured we lived here and then parked it in a neighbors driveway because who knows he’s crazy. He had a small piece of skin missing on the corner of his lower lip, sort of shining with insides but not bleeding necessarily. I asked if he was alright as he did seem a bit shaken, “Yeah… I mean no…” he showed me his arm that had a few marks on it, nothing major. Anyway I told him we didn’t know the neighbors because my family is rather reclusive and that he should go talk to them and leave me and my life alone forever. He took it well and hovered, like he wanted a hug or something. I said “good luck,” and shook his hand. Asked his name, “Michael.” He said, not returning the question. “Salvator,” I responded. He walked off and I went inside, keeping my right hand with his crazy germs on it away from my body, opening the door with my left hand and going straight to the bathroom to rid myself of any remnants of his weirdness.

Time passes. I think about writing this story. And then…

My dad is outside closing our side gate from the front yard to the back. He comes in to say “Someone stole our lock.” Both he and my mother start panicking immediately with a flurry of “oh my god, maybe it was the gardeners •••calls gardeners••• nope not them, this is scary, our neighbors have been broken into last year, someone was definitely here” worry has officially set in. I put my shoes on to help dad find a new lock. I find one and he says “NO! That’s not the right one..” It was a silver Master lock, standard, with a key and everything. “It has to be BRASS!!!” He said, sternly. Goddamn…. can’t even pick the correct lock. Therein lies the reasoning for my constant self-doubt. I hesitated and asked, “Why brass good?” “Because it doesn’t RUST!” he responded. (Let it be known, he’s not “yelling” at me. And not mad, yet. He just speaks very directly and loudly as any 70-year-old disabled war vet would be.)

He hands me a brass lock with a metal chain bolted onto it along with some wire-cutters. “Here, take this off!!!!,” he asks nicely. I cut off the chain part right under the latch/bolt thing attaching it to the lock. Thought I did a great job. Showed him, “like this?” “NO GODDAMNIT!” now mad. He grabs it from me and goes at it himself to take the bolt part off as well—mind you, there was not reason to take this off… would have worked just fine if we left it on.. and turns out he wanted me to take the little bolt part off as well as the chain even though at first glance I didn’t think I even could take it off.. i don’t know.. i can’t do anything right when he’s around. Even if I’m doing something simple like backing out of the driveway and he’s watching I’ll do something different because I can feel him watching and fuck something up to further prove I still have a lot to learn from him and then he tells me lengthy stories about how to properly wash the dishes and I tune him out and think of happier more interesting things as I do said dishes and then come back to the conversation when he says “And that was the craziest day in Vietnam I think we every had… I don’t ever wanna think about that again.” AHHHH… missed it. His fault.

I take the chain-free lock out to the side gate to replace the stolen one. Meanwhile looking everywhere for Michael as he’s the top suspect for someone sneaking into our backyard. No sign of Michael, found some dog shit though. Didn’t pick it up, didn’t feel like it, though I’m never really in an I-wanna-pick-up-dog-shit kinda mood…. I go to the gate and take out my phone which is with me at all times except in the shower. Turn on the flashlight, look around, found the lock on the ground. Hooorayyyyy we can sleep peacefully.

I deliver the good news to mom and dad. “FUCK YEAH!” They exclaim in my direct translation of them actually saying “Oh, good.” But they’re still worried because we’re Jewish. “How did it fall though? I didn’t leave it that way….” So tonight we sleep in fear, as all Americans should.

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