The Neighborlies


            Two volunteers, each carrying a card bearing their name, the words “Neighborhood Volunteer” and a phone number, enter the yard of a home not far from their own. They know that inside resides a person likely to benefit from, and be grateful for, a little company and genuine concern for their status. They may also be willing to accept a little help with some small problem(s) that, for any possible number of reasons, are insurmountable.

            Inhabitant responds to knocking and they are invited inside, or just asked their business at the door, the volunteers express an interest in the inhabitant(s), and a desire to make any small repair or correction of a condition that can be accomplished with such tools and supplies as they may have at their disposal.

           A dialogue ensues, after introductions.


            “Who’ja say yer with?”

            “We’re  ’Neighborlies’, sir.”

            “What the hell’s that?”

            “We’re people from around here who like the idea of sneaking up on our neighbors and fixing things.”

            “Oh yeah, well why don’cha mow that goddam lawn if yer such eager beavers! (looks around) Neighbors around here are newcomers that complain that yer grass is either dead o’ thirst, or tangly from too much water! I water it and they piss and moan when the weeds grow up! ‘Unsightly’ they call it. (the word delivered in a mocking, shrilly exaggerated tone of disgust)!”

            “Sure, no problem. Got a mower?”

            “I got one but ya gotta push it, and it don’t work none too good. In fact just tryin’ to push the goddam thing is how I did my back.”

            “No problem. Why don’t I just go ahead and do it now. Where’s your mower. I’ll get it out and squirt some oil on it, maybe knock a few burrs off the blades with a file. It’s pretty simple.”

            “Now hang on just a goddam minute! I don’t know if I want a stranger pokin’ around my shed. It’s all mostly junk, but I don’t know you from Richard Nixon! Why d’you wanna do this, anyway? If you’re missionaries, you’re wastin’ both our time. I ain’t interested and I’ve heard it all before.”

            “Ok, well, you got me. But we’re not missionaries. I’m more like you in that regard, nothing against anyone’s faith, o’ course. In fact, my friend here isn’t even staying. He’s on his way over to Miz Owenses’ house. Everybody knows missionaries won’t work alone (one leaves).”

            “Y’ still ain’t told me what it is y’DO want.”

            “Sure. It’s simple enough. We want you to vote in the next election.”

            “POLITICS, fer crissakes! I mighta known. Yer as bad as the missionaries! You come in here pretending to do me a favor and then try to sell me that snake oil. Them bastards (politicians, not missionaries) is all corrupt and they’ve proved it more times than I could count. Raising taxes, givin’ money to freeloaders, faggots everywhere, foreigners-I’m sick of ‘em all. Next thing I know, they’ll be takin’ my Social Security.  It’s all I got. That and this pitiful shack and weed patch.”

            “I don’t care who you vote for. I just think the country is better off when people use their say, and our vote is the only say most of us have.”

            “Don’t try to bullshit me with that “We don’t care who you vote for’ crap. I’ll bet you know who you’re gonna vote for.”

            Okay, well, yeah, some I do, but I won’t be telling you who they are. I won’t know myself who some of them are until I check them out. Now I’ve met you, I might vote for you if you’d run for commissioner or dogcatcher or something.”

            “Ha! I can’t catch ol’ George there, and he ain’t got but three legs.”

            “Why don’t we forget politics and I’ll just cut your grass and be on my way. Honestly, that’s all I had in mind when I disturbed you. ”

            “Well, that’s okay, but I still wanna know one more thing. I know I’m not the sharpest knife in the drawer, but I graduated from high school, and I watch TV, not that I believe anything I see on it. Why’d you pick me?”

            “Your name and address are on the list for van pickups at the community center. I asked my mailman, Mr. Evans if he thought you were likely to shoot at us if we came through your gate unexpected. He said you might if you had a gun, but you don’t, so we ought go ahead. He said you might let us lend a hand with a thing or two, but probably not.”

            “Elmore! That bastard. I’ll haveta chew his ass if he thinks he can send strangers over here just any old goddam time.”

            “I got the impression you and him are old friends. He told me you hate politicians. You’re not alone there. I don’t like a lot o’ them either, but I figure that, if I don’t vote, I got no right to squawk about ‘em. It’s one o’ my favorite rights.”

            “Tell me about it. Me and Elmore grew up here. I’m older than him by a few years. It was a different town then.”

            ”More neighborly, I reckon. Wanna tell me where that mower is?”

            “It’s out back. Put it away when yer done, and don’t leave ‘thout tellin’ me who yer votin’ for, or who you ‘spect ME to vote for.”

            “No sir, I won’t do that. It’s better you decide yourself which candidate is least likely to lie to you about what they’ll do if they get in. I’m not here to talk you into anything but voting. Later, if you insist, but not today.”

            “Fair enough. Sorry if I seem cranky. It’s my only defense against assholes. You’re not one a them. I’m glad for the help with the lawn, too, don’t think I’m not. And you should be glad I gave that ol’ shotgun to my grandson. Now get to it. I’ll fix us a fresh lemonade.”



7 responses to “The Neighborlies

  1. I love this JAck. the picture looks exactly like the house and land I owned a lifetime ago in east Kentucky and we had neighbors just like him!!! Simple people and as intelligent as any could hope to meet.

  2. I enjoyed your piece a lot. You really have the patois down. But I sure hope that bigoted jerk don’t vote. Got too many of that sort voting already!

    • Well, that’s the point, John. Sometimes people say things they don’t really believe, for a variety of possible reasons. You’d be surprised how easily people will let go of unreasonable positions in the face of reason. The underlying motivation for writing this little ditty is a kind of homespun guidebook for building an approach to electioneering that acknowledges the primary role of the citizen/voter in the process more that the aspirations of candidate X. There is so much misinformation flying about, and conscious disinformation from candidates on both sides (but most by far from the GOP) that a serious effort is needed to shine some light on all those darklies and force the little bastards to scurry away. BTW, it means a lot to me whenever you approve of anything I write. This one has been in my head for a long time, but I didn’t know how to write it until just today.

  3. You can do something that I can’t, dialog. Ever think about one act plays? My niece’s boyfriend was over yesterday and he was wrestling with copyright problems for producing an old play in a local community theater. I said why not just write your own script? To your point, the biggest problem is the selection process for candidates. I’d vote for you in a heartbeat for example, but there’s a snowball’s chance in hell the party will ever put you up. I have to disagree about Republicans being worse that Democrats though, Democrats are just better liars.

    • I’m no more fit for office than they are. As for liars, you may be right, but that would mean the Dems are also more adroit, because the Republicans can’t seem to stop practicing.

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