"Hey Molly, you wanna come up?" Orion and I are moving across the lawn after a run in the batting cages down at the park. My skinny neighbor sticks his head out of the second floor window. This is probably the twentieth time he's asked me up and I have declined every time. Fish sticks in the oven, no I don't drink beer, in the middle of cleaning, too tired. The list goes on. Recently, I let him show me a new path to walk around the neighborhood. He shared the history of having lived in the town for his whole life and introduced me to some neat back paths. Consequently, I decided he probably wasn't too creepy.
"Well he's all wet," I shout back up to the window.
"That's all right," he says. So up we go. I figure El Chew Munch will terrorize said neighbor if I need him to and at least I can go up, see his place, than loop home and continue with my day. Neighbor opens the door to his much lived in apartment, two giant sized Jesus pictures greet me, a confederate flag, adored with knives, skulls and old photos line the walls. Hum. I think, plunking down on the couch. I figure we can make it 30 minutes before Orion needs to pee.
"You mind if he sits on your couches?" I ask.
"No, I love dogs." So up Orion crawls, after sticking his nose into a bag of metal objects.
"What are those?" I ask, nodding towards the bag of metal.
"They are pop tops. I like the feel of metal under my hands so it's a hobby I've done since I was a kid. You wanna see how I do it?"
"Sure," I say. What the hell. This could be interesting. So out comes a soda can, he wedges his thumb in the top, all the while explaining about his low pain tolerance and begins twisting the entire metal surface off the top of the aluminum can.
"Interesting," I say, "Kind of reminds me of Twister, and the way they used soda cans to make the machines fly."
"Oh yeah, I got Twister somewhere in here," he gestures at the floor to ceiling stack of movies, "you want to watch it?"
"No, I have a copy but thanks."
From there I learn all about my neighbor, hearing the story of how his mom had a stroke, his childhood, his knowledge of "chemistry", his thoughts on alcohol, pot, the girl he's interested in down the street, his step siblings, old druggies he used to know.. Orion is chewing on my arm, chewing on his tail, chewing on his soggy tennis ball.
"Your dog like tennis balls?"
"Well sometimes I go on ball walks and I find a bunch of tennis balls down at the park." He disappears down the hallway and returns with three plastic bags, organized into baseball/softballs, golfballs, and a whole bag of tennis balls. Go figure.
"You want some? You never have to buy a ball for him, just check in with me," he says pulling three tennis balls out of the bag and tossing them to Orion.
"Thanks Neighbor!" I say passing them to Orion. Neighbor gets another phone call, and loops out to the porch, on his third cigarette. Orion is getting antsy. We've been there for a bit. I kindly thank him for the tennis balls, leave my soda can on the coffee table for him later, scoop up Orion and truck back to my place just smiling over the peculiar people I meet in my life.