A few weeks ago, Chooch and I were outside eating lunch when this strange man came out of one of the houses on my block and began methodically pacing back and forth along the sidewalk with his head down. Every time he’d get to my driveway, he’d pause, pivot, and begin walking back up the sidewalk.
This went on for several repetitions.
“What is that guy doing?” I asked Chooch in a hushed tone.
“I don’t know,” he mumbled around mouthfuls of waffle. “Walking?”
But it was suspicious to me, especially since I remember Henry mentioning that he thought the house next to Hot Naybor Chris’s had been converted into a halfway house.
“Maybe he’s on house arrest,” I suggested to Chooch, because all four-year-olds know about house arrest. “And he can’t go any further than our driveway before his ankle bracelet alerts the authorities.”
Chooch gave me a “yeah, whatev” shrug and went back to licking the syrup from his plate.
Paranoia got the best of me and I quickly ushered Chooch back in the house before the deranged pacer had a chance to brandish a bloody machete or a lethal pedometer.
“What the hell,” Chooch complained. “He’s just WALKING.”
I quickly called Henry at work and told him how Chooch and I were almost victims in a mass murder.
“I know who you’re talking about,” Henry said, ignoring my hysterical conclusion jumping. “I think he’s just a little slow or something.”
A few days later, we were coming home from somewhere, probably the crack house, just in time for our criminal neighbor’s daily leg stretch.
“Don’t get out of the car yet!” I yelled at Henry. “I don’t want him to get scared and leave before I can get a picture of him.”
“Do not —-” Henry began arguing, but it was too late. “Oh, he totally saw you. That wasn’t obvious at all,” Henry muttered as I slunk my entire torso back into the car.
Just a few minutes ago, Chooch and I were outside embroiled in a pathetic mess of Thingie Ball, when the criminal neighbor exited his front door and began his slow amble toward our house. It’s at least eighty degrees out and he was clad in the winter jacket he wore in his photo above.
I was hoping Chooch wouldn’t see him, but he threw a glance over his shoulder just as the criminal neighbor came to a stop in front of our yard.
“HEY,” Chooch exclaimed. “IT’S THE WAFFLE GUY!” Apparently Chooch now associates waffles with the freak up the street, awesome.
I quickly put my finger to my lips and tried to use the sheer power of my eyes to will Chooch to lower his voice. Instead, Chooch chose to drop his Thingie Ball paddle and stare as the criminal neighbor slowly tromped back up the sidewalk.
On his second lap, Chooch screamed to him, “WHAT THE HELL ARE YOU DOING, ANYWAY?” The criminal looked up at me and I had no choice but to smile and say hello. He half-raised his hand into a wave, hinged on his heels, and lumbered back up to his house, never saying a word.
If Chooch can’t find the answer, then it truly is a mystery.