Quick Neighbor Story

When I was pregnant with my first, we lived on the second floor in an ancient apartment building on the corner of Briarcliff and Briarcliff Place in Atlanta. Across the street lived a crazy old woman and her--that's right--middle-aged son, who looked like a cross between Charles Manson and Goober Pyle.

We were a one-klunker family, so I worked at Stone Soup, a little health food/bakery/deli on Virginia, a short walk from home. My duties there kept me in the kitchen, baking zucchini muffins and stirring the bottomless kettle of black bean soup. Despite the fact that the kitchen was way in back and the powerful aromas of cinnamon and cilantro filled the air, we always knew as soon as Chuckie Pyle entered the store. The smell of moth balls signaled his arrival long before we actually saw him.

He'd study the large sandwich menu that hung on the wall behind the deli case and count his nickels and pennies. I'd hold my breath for as long as I could, then I'd shove a complimentary cookie at him and "run check the pot on the stove," disappearing behind the swinging door. When that sublime naphthalene vapor dissipated, I knew it was safe to come out.

Eventually, Chuckie figured out I was his neighbor. He seemed pleased by this. He'd stand for hours at the edge of his mother's yard, poking a stick into the sewer grate, staring at my window. Eventually he added to this repertoire: pants unzipped. I had to time my comings and goings to coincide with his breaks from this activity. Naturally, this meant I looked out the window frequently, which surely encouraged him.

But because of my habit of checking the street, I didn't miss it the day the police stormed his house, letting loose a naked young woman who ran out the front door, screaming and crying and tearing at her matted hair. She was collected quickly and Chuck was taken off in handcuffs. The girl turned out to be a prostitute he'd kidnapped and kept in the basement.

True story. True, I tell ya.


Rupert said...

Awesome . . . I bet he prob thought the cookie you gave him was a secret message . . . kinda like the way Cate Winslet speaks directly to me!
I still can't decide if you're a lighting rod or just super observant . . .
I loved Stone Soup. I still see Myron and occasionally Sara. What's her name on Big Love (bill's mother)and Twin Peaks worked there - that's tru too!

ButtonHole said...

He didn't have a butterfly collection, too, did he, a la John Fowles's The Collector?


Tania Rochelle said...

Cate Winslet speaks to me about YOU, Rupert!

Button, I don't think this guy was smart enough to collect anything. I was impressed he was smart enough to trick a prostitute.

Kathy said...

I loved Stone Soup too- didn't know that Bill's Mom from Big Love worked there.

If you lived in Ohio, I bet this guy would have found you. I wonder if he lives with his mother.

BELLBROOK, Ohio (AP) -- Police in Ohio say they have arrested a Dayton-area man they accuse of harassing girls while dressed in a green one-piece woman's swimsuit.

Police say several girls complained that a man wearing a woman's swimsuit approached them and verbally harassed them as they walked home from an ice cream shop. Police say some girls at a canoe rental shop said the man later approached them and partially exposed himself.

White says Miller was wearing a woman's swimsuit when police arrested him on his property.

Collin Kelley said...

Sounds a little Silence of the Lambs-ish for me. I'm sure you were too skinny to be skinned for a lady suit.

Tania Rochelle said...

I gained 50 lbs when I was pregnant, Collin. Every time.

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