Tuesday, April 24, 2007

The house on Sunnyside hill

Ryan and I live in a neighborhood that is "gentrifying." Basically what that means is half of the houses on our street look nice -- and the other half would not look look odd with a Chevy on blocks in the front yard. It also means there is a promise of increased property values -- but not enough to move us into a neighborhood that has already been niceified (my blog, my words).

The creepiest house on the street is about six homes up the block from us. It is dark and dingy, with an overgrown lawn and bushes, dirty windows and a walk and driveway that have never been swept. I have never seen a light on inside -- and there is something large in the driveway covered by a tarp. It looks like a set from Silence of the Lambs. For about a year I thought it was deserted. I mean, how could anyone live in a house without ever turning on a light? Unless they were half bat. Which actually would be kind of cool, but that's beside the point. Then about six months ago I noticed that a very clean Ford something was parked in the driveway. And then it was gone. And then it was back. I wondered if someone was coming into the get the mail, or check on things. So, I asked the neighborhood busybody -- and she told me the shocking truth. SOMEONE WAS LIVING IN THE HOUSE!!!

Girl Scouts go in -- but never come out...

She said she's only seen him once -- when she was heading up some neighborhood project. He's in his late fifties, had lived alone in the house for at least thirty years and is a nuclear physicist at the University. A nuclear physicist? No wonder he never turns on the lights, he probably glows.

After I learned someone was lurking behind those dirty windows and closed door I became an adult version of Harriet the Spy or Sheila the Great. Every time I walked past the house I would slow to the pace of an arthritic turtle. I would let Sally off her leash in the hopes she would run into the yard and I would have to follow her. But, she knew better, and would look at me like I was trying to feed her to a Kraken. Any time I saw silver car drive up the street I would strain to see the driver. But nothing. The mad scientist was eluding me. And no one eludes Libby!

Then, two days ago Ryan and I were walking up the street when we heard the door open. I had already passed the house -- but Ryan was in perfect viewing position. I regretted the fact I hadn't brought the giant net I bought just for these occasions. I held my breath in anticipation -- hoping I would scare him back inside. This was it, I just knew it! Maybe we would befriend him like the kids did with the weird looking dude in that movie Goonies. We would show him the joys of the outside world, like flying kites and Taco Bell. We would change his life. And everyone would think we were wonderful people for it. I didn't think a Nobel Peace Prize was out of the question. Or a spot on Oprah.

So, what did Ryan see? Nothing. The door opened, a hand came out and grabbed the mail, and the door slammed. It probably wasn't even the scientist. Probably his pet "thing."

I wonder if I left a little trail of uranium pellets if I could lure him out....