This is not all what I expected.
I was inside the house in our lovely little lower middle class neighborhood this morning when I first heard it. It sounded vaguely like knocking. It was too muffled to have been on our door but far too loud to be the usually knocking of husbands whose hands were too full to open the door from walking their dogs while holding their coffee cups. It also was clearly not the horn honk of car pools picking up people for work that we are accustomed to. As the knocking continued I began to make out the voices that accompanied them. I reached into the fridge for the half-and-half for my coffee, because powdered creamer has no place in my home, and the voices seemed to say what sounded like,”please” and “sir something”.
It wasn’t until my groggy eyes peered through the curtains that it became clear. The street was lined with cars. While on street parking has always been a problem on our street, this was way beyond what we normally see. Then I saw him. He was dressed the distinct blue uniform of our local law enforcement officers except he had a kevlar vest on. He was crossing the yard belonging to the rental house across the street. He was carrying what appeared to be an AR15. I am amazed at how proficient I have become at identifying assault rifles but that’s what you get for having a son who spends the majority of his waking hours killing digitally rendered zombies.
The remarkable part of the scene wasn’t the officer crossing the yard, it was that he didn’t stand out. He didn’t stand out because there were at least 15 of his brethren in the yard with him. They were advancing on the house and that’s when I learned that the voice I had heard actually belonged to the man at the front door with the battering ram. He was yelling out, “Police” and “Search Warrant” and “We are coming in”, and they did. I stood there at the front door in absolute shock. It was all too surreal. While my neighborhood may not be perfect, it is remarkably crime free. I don’t lock my garage most nights and on occasion have had my house keys left for me in my mailbox without event. This couldn’t be happening. The neighbors across the way had always been relatively quiet. They kept their grass cut and despite the fact that no one in the home had jobs they never bothered anyone. Hell, my kids even played basketball in their yard.
Slowly, thanks to a particularly verbose city police officer, the story became clear. Our lovely neighbors were actually cocaine dealers. Wow! No wonder they always had such nice stuff at their yard sales. And those teenagers who roam the neighborhood with their plastic tubes selling candy to help pay for college must have made out like bandits at that house.
Now, even despite my “wild child” years when I was younger, I have never actually seen cocaine in person and the only thing I know about it is what Miami Vice and Dr. Drew have taught me. So, I was most unsettled to know that I was sleepy within yards of a crap ton of Bolivia’s finest. I was so shocked that I couldn’t quite wrap my brain around this concept of a neighbor using his house as an illegal version of the Walgreen’s pharmacy. As I heard my son start to wake, I realize that I had to explain to him why there was a fairly good chance he would not be playing basketball with the neighbor’s kid for the foreseeable future.
As I started to recount the activities of the morning in our own little version of Law&Order: West side Jacksonville, the true shock hit me. When I told him about my neighbor’s pharmaceutical endeavors, he responded that he really wasn’t that surprised WHAT? Here is a kid that turns his head when a kissing scene takes place in a movie and won’t watch any movie that is even remotely scary, and yet the fact that we were living across the street from Mr. and Mrs. Scarface really wasn’t that big of a deal. He started to elaborate on the details as I listened with slack jawed awe. He told me of the numerous time that he had stepped into the doorway of the home waiting for their kids to come out and play and he saw the kitchen table so full of stacks of hundred dollar bills that they had to move the AK47 that sat there. As he told me this my body started to convulse with spasms of shock and belated fear. He told me that the kid had told him that the man of the house was his step-dad who had recently gotten out of jail for , here’s a shocker, dealing drugs. Now my son is the most anti-smoking, anti-drug kids that I have ever met. Hell, he gives me dirty looks when I have more than two beers on a Friday night. I asked him if he knew they were performing illegal acts and he said no. He told me that he had learned from me that you should always give someone the benefit of the doubt unless you can prove they were doing wrong. So he has been listening to me. I asked why he never told me of the things he had seen over there and he gave me a look that he probably had been saving for the past eleven years of his life to deliver and said,”You didn’t ask”.
Our cocaine cowboy neighbors were toted off to jail and the kids are staying with their grandmother. I asked my son if he would change anything that has happened in this whole affair and he said no. I asked him why and he reported to me that he really liked playing basketball with those kids. Through this all, one thing has become abundantly clear:
I have got to get that kid his own basketball hoop.