It’s a good time to be a white gangster. It’s a good time to be selling drugs and guns and who knows what else to the neighborhood kids. The cops don’t care, they look the other way, all because he’s white. They only have time to pick on the black kids hanging out down the street, or next door at my neighbor Charles’s—he’s got a big family and they come over often. All those black people on the street—it scares people.

So instead the white gangster sells his drugs and gets a new car every month. Now he has a jeep, a stupid jeep that won’t be any good for these winters from hell. There’s no insulation in those jeeps. It’s a jeep for safari, something you need in the rain and the mud. Not snow and cold. He doesn’t have any sense. I don’t know how he hasn’t been caught. It doesn’t make any sense at all how he is still in business.

People come and go at his house night and day, he’s got a drug thing going on for sure, and I see women leave his house morning and night—women in tight, short dresses. Who are they? What do they want?

Don’t think I haven’t warned the cops about him, I’ve written letters and God knows I’ve called them, but nothing happens. He does whatever he likes. And on a pension too. He worked for the city so now he has a fat pension and can sit back all day and sell his drugs and watch TV and take his bikes out for a spin. Yeah, he’s got motorcycles. Harleys, two of them. Two Harleys, that should be enough for the cops to go on, but they’ve got their heads up their asses.

“So instead the white gangster sells his drugs and gets a new car every month.”

I respect law enforcement and the many hard-working men and women who risk their lives everyday for the safety of us all, but these local cops don’t know what the hell they’re doing. Whoever hired them doesn’t know about anything. This is the worst of the lot, the worst hiring of cops this city has seen.  

I have five daughters. I’m concerned about raising them in this environment. I’m concerned about having a drug dealer down the street. It’s not safe for them. People drive so fast on the street already, and we shouldn’t have to worry about a major criminal operating a few houses away.

My wife doesn’t think so either. She tells me what she sees during the day when I’m at work. She makes notes. We’re trying to make a case against him, get some solid evidence, something we can give the cops.

He’s usually pretty quiet in the morning. He doesn’t get going until 11am or noon. Steph’s notes from yesterday, for instance:

11am – White car pulls up. Man gets out and goes up to back of house and talks to him. Drives away about 20 min later.

12:37pm – Two bikers pull up.

1:12pm – Bikers leave.

3pm –Sitting on front porch

4pm – Van pulls up into the driveway. They unload stuff in the garage. Drugs?

4:30pm – He leaves with van riding a motorcycle.

7pm – Comes back home, sits on porch, and drinks beer.

8pm – Two ladies pull up and they go inside. Women are wearing tight dresses with high heels.

10:00pm – Women leave

“8pm – Two ladies pull up and they go inside. Women are wearing tight dresses with high heels.”

I help with the notes when I get back home, as much as I can. I go to bed early so there’s only so much I can see. But when I get up at 4:30 or 5am it’s helpful since I can do some scouting. I take our dog Marcy out and go past the house and do my own investigations. I want to know what the hell he’s up to. Marcy shits in his front yard. I pick up after her. But I linger, trying to get a look inside his house. The curtain moves. Does he see me? He probably hasn’t gone to bed. Probably up from the night before.

I’ve seen him pull into his driveway at 4 or 5 in the morning and it’s clear from the clothes and the tiredness in his eyes and face that he’s just gotten back from whatever debauchery and sin and degradation he was participating in. It’s clear he has a problem. Maybe gambling. We have those new casinos outside town now on the reservations. We opposed them, we knew what gambling did, what kind of horrible disease it is and how greed can corrupt the soul, ruin a life.

My father was a gambler, brother too. My father gambled away our inheritance, what little there was of it. After the divorce, a long and ugly divorce that tore both my parents up, ripped them apart, they went after each other like two wolves, picking at each other, trying to get the last penny from the other. They limped around for the rest of their lives.

That’s what my father did. He limped to the nearest casino and spent everything he had left. He was drinking. He was staying up all night and playing the slots. It was insanity. He died last year. He went out suddenly. Two months from when he was diagnosed he was gone. Just like that. So fast. But he’d paved the way for that to happen with his lifestyle. He wasn’t taking care of himself. He wasn’t at all.

 

Carrie was playing out front. She’s our fourth daughter. She’s a sweetheart, just a sweet bundle of energy. Her favorite thing in the world to do right now is right her tricycle in the driveway. The older ones were at school but she was riding in the driveway. People always drive too fast down our road. I’ve made numerous complaints to the police station but they’re completely incompetent. They’re too busy paying out lawsuits for killing unarmed black people to do any real work. All that money they’re paying out, that’s my tax dollars at work.

Anyways, Carrie was playing in the front drive and Steph was watching her of course but he came around the corner going way above the speed limit just as she was riding down the driveway. She went too far into the road—she’s supposed to stay in the driveway—and just as Steph called out to her and was running after her this jerkoff came roaring down the road and hit her.

“She was sure it was the white gangster. I knew it too. Almost ran over a child and didn’t even stop. What a coward. A man like that doesn’t deserve to live.”

I say hit her but as it turns out it was more like a swipe. But still she was thrown form her bike, scared as anything. Steph took her to the ER and in the end she had some scrapes and cuts and a minor concussion. No broken bones or anything. It was a miracle. Steph told the police what she saw but all she could see was that is a jeep, she didn’t get the license or anything. She was sure it was the white gangster. I knew it too. Almost ran over a child and didn’t even stop. What a coward. A man like that doesn’t deserve to live.  

But the police, they’re so lazy, they said they couldn’t do anything about it. They needed a better description of the vehicle. Well, she only had a few seconds to see and she was taking care of our daughter who was thrown to the road yelling and screaming and bleeding. How could she get the license plate? The street curves around suddenly. They couldn’t even bother to go out and see if anyone else saw anything. I couldn’t believe it. My own child almost killed, and they couldn’t do anything about it. What the hell is this world? What’s the point of them? What’s the damn point of them?

 

He had gone on his trip. He always took a trip at the first of the month for a few days. It was the first and his car was gone, so I took Marcy out early in the morning. I let her off the leash but she wouldn’t go up to the house. C’mon Marcy, c’mon let’s go up, did you lose your toy, did you lose it up here? Marcy cocked her head and ears and looked confused. I walked up the driveway and took a look around me. It was early and I don’t think anyone saw me.

I looked into the separated garage he had. The windows were dirty. Didn’t he clean anything? Not surprising, he way he lived his life. I had my gloves on and tried to wipe the windows off a little, but couldn’t make out much of anything. I tried the door. It was locked. I picked up a rock and threw it through the window on the door. I reached through and opened the door.

 That’s when I heard the crunch of footstep behind me.  I turned and there he was standing there with a gun. Looked like a Glock. I had one at home. Should have thought about bringing that with me, now that I think about it.

He motioned for me to come inside his house.

 His eyes were bloodshot. His face looked tired.

He took me inside and poured two cups of coffee. He handed one to me. Milk, cream? he said.

Black, he said.

Oh, a real man, he said. Tough. I like it.

He sat down at the table.

“Oh, a real man, he said. Tough. I like it.”

Please have a seat, he said. We’re neighbors. But we never talk. We should talk.

I sat down.

He sipped his coffee. I sipped mine.

What should we talk about? he said.

I have no idea, I said.

You were coming to rob me, weren’t you? he said.

No, I said. That’s insane.           

Is it? I’m always gone the first of the month. I knew someone would figure it out eventual and come and try to take my shit.   

I saw some kids messing around up here and I came to investigate, I said.

You go to church don’t you, he said? Catholic? You’re going to have to make a confession for that lie.

Protestant, I said. I don’t believe inconfession. And I’m not lying.

I think you are.

I could call the police, he said. But I don’t want to do that. We’re neighbors. It wouldn’t be very neighborly if I called the police on you, would it?

Do what you think is right.

I always do, he said.

He took the clip out of the gun.

What’s your problem with me? he said.

You nearly killed my child, driving your car down the street. You got people coming and going at all hours, you’re selling drugs up here and the police won’t do anything about. You have women coming and going at all hours. There’s such a thing as right and wrong and even though you don’t care about it, I do. I have a family to protect. And I’ll do whatever it takes. I’ll make your life a living hell.

I do have women coming and going at all hours, he said. I like women. Women smell nice, don’t you like the way they smell? I’ve always liked that from when I was a boy. They smell so good. Even when I take a shower I can’t smell that sweet. You know, I can really scrub but I can’t smell that nice. You know what I’m talking about. You know it. You’ve got your daughters, you know how they smell.

“Women smell nice, don’t you like the way they smell? I’ve always liked that from when I was a boy.”

You ever mention them that way and I’ll kill you, I swear to God.

He put the gun in front of me.            

Go ahead, he said. Shoot me if you want to. Go right ahead. Shoot me. I know you want to.

We’ll call it an accident, he said. I’ll make up the story you can tell police while you get the courage. We’re neighbors and we’re just talking. You walked your dog up here and I said hello and invited you in for a coffee, just like neighbors do. I asked about your daughters. You asked about mine, she’s dead, thanks for asking, wife’s dead too, thanks so much for asking after them, but let’s just leave that be. I brought out this new Glock I just bought since we’re both gun nuts, we love them, guns are so amazing, and I was showing it to you. Somehow you pointed it at me even though it goes against the cardinal rules of gun safety—never point at something you wouldn’t intendto shoot—but wait, you did intend to shoot me. Would you shoot me in chest? In the head? Twice to make sure, so I’m not just some brain-damaged freak that you’ll feel sorry for? But you really have one shot to make it look like an accident. Make that one shot count so it can look like an accident.

I picked up the gun. I looked at him. He almost killed Carrie, she would be dead. The next time he drove that car down she’d be dead.

Let’s rehearse how it will go.  Or maybe I can attack you. I invited you over for a cup of coffee and then attacked you. We fought over the gun. We grappled. Two grown men fighting. You won. You got the gun, but I was trying to wrestle it away from you so I could shoot you. That’s right, I wanted to kill you. But you didn’t want to die. You have a family and beautiful children. You have so much to live for. So you shoot me, maybe you really don’t mean it, you don’t want to do it, but that’s how it happens.

“I picked up the gun. I looked at him. He almost killed Carrie, she would be dead. The next time he drove that car down she’d be dead.”

I held that gun. It was newer than the one I had at home. Shouldn’t be surprised, he had all the new little toys.

You don’t want to die, I said.

That’s where you’re wrong, sir. I wouldn’t mind dying. I really wouldn’t mind.

He stood up and got out a bottle of whiskey and some pills.

He started taking the pills, just swallowing them up.

You can leave now, he said.

Bye, he said, taking more pills. Buh-bye. Bye-bye. Bye.

The pill bottle was empty.

I’m tired now, he said. He was slurring. I’m going to lay down. I’m going to go to sleep. This coffee is not working at all.

 

They found the body that night, when some women came over. They came out of the house, screaming. The ambulance came, the police. That’s was months ago. The street is quieter now. The city installed some speed bumps so that’s nice. It’s a start. Some decent people moved into the gangster’s house. A real nice family. They drive slowly, they keep the yard nice, they’re friendly. I see them at church. They’re decent folks, which is saying a lot these days.