We didn’t immediately catch on to the fact that the neighbors were selling drugs. Of course, we’d just moved in and had a three-year-old, six-month-old twins, and I was starting a year of treatment for hepatitis C. I had plenty to keep me occupied inside and no time to check out the other houses on the street.
Also, the Tiny Kingdom isn’t the first place I’d look for a drug dealer. Sure, there are kids in the community with plenty of money, and drug use isn’t anything new, but I figured they got their drugs downtown or at any rate, somewhere else, not right across the street.
But as the years passed, my boys spent more time in our driveway, which has a clear view of the driveway across the street. Kids don’t miss a thing. At first their reports were tame.
“The guy in the house across the street was drinking a beer and he doesn’t look like he’s twenty-one,” Finn announced one time. He was about eight at the time and was shocked. I tried to act shocked, too.
“You know the house across the street? All these teenagers are sitting in the driveway smoking. Should we call the police?” Porter asked another day, as I was putting away groceries. “I mean, cigarettes can kill you. And if the smoke drifts over here and we breathe it in and die that would be murder. I’ll call 911.”
I restrained him with great difficulty. He was perplexed by my attitude, and summoned his brothers. They shared his indignation. They all put bandannas on their noses to protect themselves from the fumes and hid in our bushes so they’d have a front row seat when other sins were committed.
As time passed there were late night parties, some broken up by the police, some with abrupt endings. The driveway beer and cigarette gatherings continued. My boys began coming home from school and grabbing their air soft guns, playing Capture Osama in the front yard while keeping an eye on the happenings across the street. They grew familiar with all of the cars that made regular stops at the house.
Then cars began stopping by briefly during the day. The occupants weren’t staying to smoke or drink. They’d get out, glance around, disappear behind the garage, and emerge moments later looking satisfied.
No one ever bothered us, and we couldn’t call the police simply because teens were sitting in a circle smoking in the driveway. Still, the house gave off a scary aura. When Porter had to draw a map of the neighborhood for his Webelos Travelers badge, he marked the house with a skull and crossbones:
His map key helpfully noted that this house contained “bad peaple.”
On several occasions we’d see police cars circle the block several times, slowing as they passed the bad people. I instructed the boys to wave at the police, to refrain from peeing in the bushes when the police were around, and not to strangle each other while the police were watching.
Yesterday I left the boys playing air soft in the yard while I ran a quick errand. When I left, Drew and Porter had teamed up on Finn, who was hidden behind a tree and running out of ammunition fast. When I returned, they’d forgotten all about the game.
“Yo, Mom, you should have seen all the cops hanging around here right after you left,” Finn said.
“I want to tell it, I want to tell it!” Drew said.
“So first one police car started cruising around the block and my heart started pounding really fast because I thought maybe the cop thought my air soft gun was a real gun and I was trying to kill my brothers even though for once they were beating me,” Finn said.
“Yeah, we were beating his behind so bad,” Porter said.
“So I held up my air soft rifle and waved to the policeman to say, like, no real killing going on here, but he wasn’t paying attention to me. He was all talking into his radio and looking up at that house.”
“Yeah, he was holding this phone thing up to his mouth and talking into it,” Drew said.
“It’s my story,” Finn said.
“I was there, and I was hiding in the ivy and I saw the other police car park down the street and stay there,” Drew said.
“Yeah, so this other cop car comes and just, like, parks right past the house and the policeman just sits there and waits. And we were all like, whoa, and stuff, and so we got in the garage so we could watch.”
“And I made popcorn and chocolate milk,” Drew said.
“Yeah, Drew made us popcorn and stuff and we three just sat in the garage and took in the show,” Finn said. “Hey, did I tell you about the time I saw a guy walk up the driveway and come back with a bag of powder? I didn’t know what it was then, but now that I’ve watched CSI:Miami, I bet it was cocaine.”
“When was that?”
“Maybe a year ago,” Finn said. “Come to think of it, that was kind of stupid for me to just stand in the middle of the yard and watch this big dude buy drugs.”
“So did the police ever go up to the house? Did you see anyone come out of the house?” I asked.
“No, we ate all our popcorn and the police drove around and the other guy parked and watched for a while, and then they left.”
It’s hard to know what to make of all this. Until now, the neighbors have seemed to be more of a nuisance than a danger. Of course, all I’ve seen is the groups of teenagers hanging out, and the occasional late, rowdy party. I don’t know whether Finn’s account of the powder purchase is true, but I do know that there have been a lot of strange comings and goings at the house lately.
All I can do is hope for the best and look on the bright side. There have been a rash of burglaries in the Tiny Kingdom lately. The increased police presence around our house may not be intended to thwart the thieves, but it’s making me feel more secure on that front.
Plus, I have a battalion of air soft soldiers ready to protect me.
One year ago in My Tiny Kingdom: G-Strings and Tube Socks
It’s hard to believe now, but I was one of those moms who said, “No guns in our house! I mean it.” It’s a losing battle. Boys pick up stuff and say “bang bang” whether they’re holding a spoon, a stick or a feather.
My guys are way into airsoft guns (they shoot soft rubber round things) and they like both the Rifles and the guns like the 44 Magnum. Overall it seems like harmless fun, but make sure your kids are wearing Safety Glasses at all times. Plus, put them in charge of sweeping up errant round ammo. It’s a pain in the ass and you don’t want to do it.