Fall Season / Fall Season

Raking Leaves

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Leaves were falling. the village was beautiful. the richness of colors, stunning. you don’t get this living in the concrete jungle. or if you live in an arid landscape. We deal with cold temperatures Bub.

The beauty of the changing seasons is our reward. something to embrace.

The doorbell rang. I opened it.

They thought I didn’t recognize them. It was The Macgillycuddy Boys.

Billy and his younger brother Timmy.

Both boys ran with the gang that would throw snowballs at my car last winter.

It was them. make no mistake about it.

The older brother was doing the talking now.

“Mister? do you need someone to rake your leaves?”

I locked eyes with the little one. he was giving me the stink eye.

“Is there something wrong young man?” he wouldn’t answer me. “Is this your brother?”

“Un-huh,” Billy responded.

“Are the two of you registered to rake leaves in this state?” they looked at each other.

“Are we what?” Billy asked.

“Registered. are you Registered? Do you boys speak English?”

“Un huh.” Billy said.

“So, let me get this straight? You two are Brothers. You live in Illinois, You speak English. You’re here today to ask me to rake the leaves in my yard for money. Are you boys Troublemakers?”

The younger one rolled his eyes. I looked at him. “Do you remember me Timmy?”

“No.” Timmy said.

“You Don’t?” I asked him very directly.

“No.” he said. I stood there staring at Him. Timmy starting tugging at his brother’s coat, he cupped his hand whispering something in his ear.

Billy spoke up.” “Mister we gotta go.”

“Go? but you just got here? wait a second, you came here today with a business proposition and now you want to run off before you get an answer to your question?”

“Umm? we…Umm?” Billy stuttered.

“Young Man ask me your question again.” they exchanged glances.

Billy softly asked “Umm…Would you like somebody to rake your leaves?”

“Somebody? Who?”

Timmy rolled his eyes again. exasperated he blurted out, “Us.

I shook my head from side to side like I was being offered something that smelled rank.  “No Thank You.” and closed our door.

I woke the next morning and looked out our window. the nine bags of leaves I had left out on my curb for pick up were spread all over our front lawn. the bags were missing and so were the yard waste stickers you are required to purchased from the village. no sticker? no pickup. someone was sending me a message.

It was The Macgillycuddy Boys.

Standing in your yard trying to clear it of leaves while more leaves drift down on you from the trees above can wear on you. Last year I raked 47 bags of leaves. a few of my neighbors were quite amused at the eager new guy on the block who thought he could stay ahead of Mother Nature. Mother Nature wins every time. don’t even try to take her on. she’ll kick your ass pal. Imagine trying to keep snow off your driveway in the middle of a blizzard? That is the feeling you get on my street when the leaves start to fall.

“Why don’t you hire a couple of kids from the neighborhood?” My neighbor Nancy asked me. “Why are you putting yourself through this?”

I smiled and almost bit through my lip. I wanted to throw her in her bushes.

Pay someone to tend our land? Never!

Never say Never……Ever.

I woke up and felt like a hundred year old man. My Back was killing me. my left shoulder ached.

I went over to take a look at the community bulletin board at our grocery store to see if I could find someone to handle the leaves for me. Tacked on the board was a piece of paper. It read in bold print.

FALL CLEANUP. We Rake Leaves.

At the bottom of the page was a phone number.

I called the number, a woman answered.

“I’m calling about the Fall Cleanup.”

She said, “Sure, hold on a second. SHAN….NON it’s for You!”

Shannon? a few seconds later a girl’s voice on the other end said, “Hello?”

I introduced myself. “Are you the person to speak to regarding the fall cleanup?”

“Yes.” she said. “My friend Eileen and I will rake and clean up your yard.”

“Great, How do we get started?” she informed me that they could come out tomorrow after school for an estimate. I gave her our address. we arranged to meet at 4:30.

4:30 on the dot. I was out in front of our house when two young girls with rakes walked up. Shannon the young woman I spoke with on the phone said “Hello.” then introduced me to her friend Eileen.

I showed them the yard, “Ladies? what’s this going to cost me?” they gave me three options. once a week 40 dollars, twice a week 60. and for the season 160.

“I’d like you to handle the season. When can you start?”

They looked at each other smiling.

“Right now? If you’d like?”

They went to work. no smirking, no shuffling of feet, no stink eye.

They raked both the front and backyard. bagging about 17 bags of leaves all neatly stacked at the curb. Once they finished they knocked on our door, still smiling. telling me they would be back on Saturday.

“Ladies? before you go? do you know the Macgillycuddy Boys from down the street?”

“Yeah, We Know Them.” Shannon replied.

I sensed an edge in her voice.

“Ladies? I’m worried that Billy and Timmy won’t be happy with you taking their business. I have it on good authority that these two boys are known troublemakers around town, it’s possible they might try to undermine your business.”

“Undermind?” Shannon inquired.

“Yes, undermine, They want to try to keep all the business to themselves. we’re not all bad ladies. but these boys? The Macgillycuddy’s? I just don’t trust them. Billy told me that if you want a Woman to do your work for you? go ahead hire one, see what kind of job they do? they’ll take your money and never show up. they also said you two ladies had been in trouble with the police?”

“Police?!?” The smiles disappeared.

“Yes, The Police. I also suspect that they might try to sabotage your work by dumping the leaves you worked so hard in raking on the ground.”

Eileen looked at me and said, “They better not.”

“Yes.” I pointed at Eileen. “They better not, keep an eye out for them.”

They told me they would, and to not worry.

Want to be treated like a professional? prepare like one. project yourself as one.

It was clear these girls knew the score.

In the business world today. when you look to provide a service to someone. you better be able to provide the customer with the factual information they need to make a well-informed decision that is best for them. You can’t stand in front of someone during a sales pitch and say, Umm? and Roll your Eyes at the potential customer. You sure as shooting can’t give them the Stink Eye and then expect them to give you money?

“Tell that to your little brother, The Eye Roller.”

 

Moving into a new neighborhood, one never can be exactly sure who your neighbors are going to be.

You can do advance scout work.

You can go to the street on which you hope to live and park your car at night.

Roll down the windows, listen for barking dogs or screaming children or loud disturbances that might seem out of the ordinary.

But in the end? you roll the proverbial dice, and take your chance.

It’s a bigger gamble for those who own in this regard. if you rent and get stuck next to an intolerable situation. you can break the lease, or wait a year and move when the lease runs its course. either way you can get out of dodge sooner than later. at a lot less of a cost.

When you buy? it’s a little more of a bite in the rear. you end up in most cases losing money on the deal. depending on the market of course. maybe you luck out, and the housing in your neighborhood goes up. maybe not? you’ll most likely be asked why you are selling? everyone asks that question. and no one wants to say it’s because of the kook down the street.

Maybe everyone has a Boo Radley on their block. Maybe you are the Boo Radley on your block and you just don’t know it?

Sometimes even with the best game plan possible, you might miss something. Boo Radley’s can be quiet. only showing themselves on those rare instances.

Maybe? at first you won’t see them.

Perhaps? you will hear stories. your neighbors who have lived on the street on which you have moved will start to speak of them. there won’t be any eerie music accompaniment when you get your first sighting. the Boo Radley on my street is a woman. everyone seems to have a Boo Radley story that they like to tell. neighbors on all sides of her house. people who live one street over have a story.

I had been warned, to watch out. never under any circumstance turn my back on Boo. even for a second.

I should give you a visual description. this may be why some of the neighborhood is a little uncomfortable around her. I’m guessing about 45 years old? whisper thin, pale complexion, her eyes are the thing that concern me. She never seems to blink. in any staring contest? Boo would destroy the competition. when she walks? she never moves her arms. that thousand yard stare has freaked out more than a couple of the kids in the neighborhood. no kid will walk on the sidewalk in front of her house anymore. you’ll see them ride their bikes or approach her house on foot. Right before they reach her property? they veer into the street. no one ever walks on the sidewalk in front of her house. except for me. seems a wee bit unusual doesn’t it?

What are they afraid of?

There have been stories of her standing in the windows of her house for hours on end just looking out the front window, never moving, just looking out of the window. when cars drive by, her eyes follow them, when people walk by, her eyes follow them.

The house she lives in is a brick ranch. no grass in the front yard. just some dirt and several large old trees. a late-model car is parked in her driveway. home security sign prominently displayed out front. and a “no trespassing” sign on her door. I see a light on in the front window from time to time after dark. but for the most part at night? it looks like no one is home. the mailbox next to her front door is crammed full. I’ve watched our postman deliver her mail, hustling up to the door doing the quick step, he doesn’t linger on her property. I’m guessing it’s not his favorite stop?

I know of no laws for people being odd or creepy.

Does she have some quirk’s? some think so.

She’s a little of the anti-social variety. I listened to my neighbors warnings upon moving in. “Watch out she’s a handful.” “She hates kids.” “Be careful about offering to help her shovel her driveway during heavy snow falls.” “Stay off her property.” “Don’t park your car in front of her house.” “Do not try to chat her up.”

OK? So I should just let her do her own thing? Doesn’t sound too bad to me? Some people just want to be left alone.

You never know what traumas they may have had or continue to have in their life? Maybe they are dealing with an illness or suffer from social anxiety and need medication to level things off.

I can handle that. I’ve been told by friends at times, I’m no summer breeze myself.

Her name isn’t really Boo, I call her that in the small chance…that billion to one shot, she stumbles onto this story. I don’t want to wake up in the middle of the night and see her standing there looking in our windows with blood dripping from her teeth. clutching a squirrel with no head in her left hand and a holding a list of names with my name crossed out in her right!

My wife passed her house the day before the Fourth of July last year. one month after we moved in. Boo was outside watering her dirt. my bride smiled, waved and said, “Happy Fourth of July.” she turned towards my wife and muttered “F*#& the Fourth of July.” I wasn’t there. I didn’t see it or hear it. I do believe my wife’s account. she’s just not the type to make up stories like this. Perhaps Boo had a bad experience with fireworks on the fourth? maybe this is part of that social phobia thing she may have?

When my wife see’s her now? she’s polite, she will say hello, but that’s it.

Boo Hysteria was running rampant around our neighborhood. and I kept missing it.

The village in which I live, celebrated a founders day recently. This was to honor the very first residents who settled here many moons ago and were the first to call it their home. many of these founders have street’s in town named after them. there was the usual small town celebration. pancake breakfast in the park. historical lectures and tour. an old fire truck was brought in to give rides to the local kids. the route of the fire truck went right down our street. the kids on board were between the ages of 5 -10. and kids being kids? when happy?  like to yell and scream a lot. apparently this did not please Boo Radley. by the 3rd or 4th trip? as the fire truck rounded the corner once more?

Boo appeared in her doorway. she came out of her house, walked down to the curb. most of the other neighbors were out in front of their homes waving at the screaming kids enjoying their ride. And the kids waved back. Boo did not wave. She extended both her arms and middle fingers. she didn’t shout at them, not a word passed from her lips. I don’t think the kids on board knew what hit them? the residents out watching her sure did. but then? no one had the gumption to say anything to her. once the fire truck passed. she slowly turned around and went back into her house. closing the door. as calm as someone is when they go out to pick up their morning newspaper.

No one believed me when I shared the story at work. I’ve had more than one of my neighbors tell me that they witnessed it firsthand.

Still? I wasn’t so sure…..at first.

I’ve always liked to think everyone deserves the benefit of the doubt. People are just too quick to judge others. just because someone behaves in a manner that is? Well? is a little odd to some. everyone is capable of a bad day. right?

Haven’t you ever done something you wish you hadn’t? that you later regretted? we all have a few skeletons in our closets. don’t we? C’mon now? tell the truth.

The more I heard the tales. The more I thought, Wow? it’s like the villagers in “Frankenstein” with their torches! wanting to storm the castle. wanting to destroy what they were afraid of, odds are, at least one or two in that crowd had to be thinking, “I don’t know? Hans? are we sure we want to burn down this guys house? I don’t even know him?”

I remember the day that my mind changed. The day Boo turned on me.

I was walking home from work. as I passed her house, Boo had come outside to take her garbage to the curb for pickup.

I’d had a difficult day at the office and wasn’t thinking clearly. my mind wandering on the days events as I passed her.

I said it by accident. I swear! it was, an accident.

I said, “Hey Boo.” I kept walking and heard behind me. “What the F*#% did you call me?”

I stopped, turned to face her, scrambling to recover. in my panic I couldn’t remember her real name? shit shit shit, What the hell is her name?

I broke into a Jackie Gleason “Hamana Hamana Hamana.” she snapped. charging at me, growling. was on me before I had time to react. I fell backwards. she pounced, Screaming. “I KNOOOOOO OOOOOH YOOOOO ARRR!”

You’re never supposed to hit a lady, right? of course not! Never under any circumstances. it wasn’t like she was trying to stab me in the leg with a pair of broken rusty scissors. So I just pushed her off. ran to our house. made it to the door. key in hand.

I don’t know if she chased after me? I got inside, slamming the door behind. looking out the peephole. nothing.

Then, I went around the house making sure all the doors and windows were locked up tight.

That night? I slept with one eye open.

I haven’t told anyone what happened that fall evening. Until now.

These Days? I try not to make eye contact with her. I walk in the street like the kids on the block. hoping she’s willing to let bygones be bygones.

Perhaps? I should have been a little more careful. I didn’t mean to call her Boo?

It just slipped out.

Everyone has a Boo Radley on their block.

Maybe you’re the Boo Radley on your block and you just don’t know it?

Maybe I’m the Boo Radley?

You never know who your neighbors are going to be.

We all roll the dice.