late this afternoon, i ascended the front steps of our brownstone, then unlocked the front door to let myself into the foyer on the parlor floor.
at the end of the long hallway, i caught a brief glimpse of something white, which quickly disappeared around a corner.
concerned that there might be an intruder, i paused, then called out.
i heard a faint shuffling of feet and then realised that the white flash belonged to our downstairs neighbor john, who reappeared from around the corner wearing his trademark white wife-beater tank top, white boxer shorts and slippers.
he had been hiding.
"is everything all right?" i asked.
"yeah, i was just going to check the mail and then i saw you come in."
i then said, “well, i hope i didn’t scare you. i wasn’t sure.”
"what? scared? naah…"
"you were standing over there in the corner. i knew someone was there."
my downstairs neighbor is an older sicilian american, originally from the town of pozzallo.
quite irascible, he is often seen shuffling around the building in his white wife-beater tank top, white shorts, and slippers.
a paranoid man who seems to bear a grievance for everyone in the neighborhood, he has a tendency to employ unusual expressions and pseudo-proverbs, such as “why keep the light on at night, it’s not like the cat’s going to give birth.”
i often don’t know how to respond to utterances like that.
while we don’t share a similar sense of humor, i do enjoy my encounters with him, such as this one:
i happened to see him sitting on a bench near the café which i was entering.
i greeted him, taking note that he wore a dress-shirt and slacks.
"what, are you tired?" he said to me.
"i need a little pick me up. it’s better than taking a nap."
"i can’t take naps no more."
"that’s too bad."
"yeah, i used to be able to, but no more."
"maybe you having something on your mind?" i suggested, "is there something bothering you?"
he raised his hand, pinching his fingers, then testily retorted, “you see, there you go!”
his voice quivered with barely-repressed rage, “i’ve got a clear conscience. only the guilty have trouble have sleeping.”