birds in a barrel's mission is to release creative nonfiction into the wild.

40 Days & 40 Writes is its first project.

Iron lung

I've lived in this house for the past 10 years. I cannot name my neighbors by name which is really bad and actually, really sad. I've given them nicknames i.e. squirrel man, woman with paraplegic brother, crazy agave plant lady, stoner location manager, etc. I hear everything the neighbor behind me does when they are outside, including yelling "NO! DROP IT! Yeah baby!" countless times a day directed to what I hope is a dog. Then the neighbor on the side of me has recently decided to smoke and cough at night while sitting in his front yard. One night it's pot, the next night it's cigarettes. I don't need to smell the smoke to know when it's pot night because the coughing doesn't stop. This usually starts around 11pm and goes until around 4am. Add to it his Sanford and Son front yard cluttered with I don't even know what rusted items and I keep the curtains closed facing his house.

It is no fun not being able to open the windows at night because of "hacking-needs-a-tetanus-shot" man. I think adding a beat up plumbing van is a nice touch to the over curb appeal. But it's the guy that I see when I am washing dishes that I want to know what his story is. I've been unemployed for quite a while and am at home all day. And three times a day, like clockwork, this stranger walks his dog. Now I was home sick a few years ago, and he had the same routine but with a brown pitbull. Now he's got what I think is a pitbull but white with a brown face. He's not a fast walker, he has almost a "bigfoot gait" to his stride as he slowly walks down the street. He's middle aged, weather beaten in the face, looks like some tattoos on his arms, always wears jeans and always smokes. At first glance, he and his dog look a tad scary, however, I see him wave to certain people when they drive by. Not sure if he has teeth because I've not seen him smile. I wonder what his deal is that he can walk his dog three times a day (that I see) in the neighborhood. Doesn't matter if its raining, 110 degrees, 40 degrees, he's always on time. Always walking his dog and patiently waiting while he/she does her business. I was pulling out of the driveway one day and we was passing by and waved to me. I was so surprised that he acknowledged me, that I didn't wave back. That's really sad. I need to do better with my neighbor skills. Except for hacker man. He's one cough away from an iron lung.

Some Enchanted Evening