The first time the police cars rolled to a stop in front of the Elmore Arms, curtains opened wide, sashes were lifted, an older resident or two even drew up a chair. Those not fortunate enough to have a window opening onto the street, gathered on front stoops. Anxious mothers called in their sons from playing kick ball in the street and lit up the local party lines setting the grist mills of gossip officially into motion.
That was before they knew that Mrs. Birany’s son Brian had been sent back from the war because he wasn’t right in the head. That was before they found out that Brian often sat motionless for days at a time and watched the spider high in the corner, or the water drip from the kitchen faucet, not eating or sleeping or saying a word, and that Mrs. Birany only called the police when she was at her wits end and didn’t know what else to do.
These days, when police cars pull up in the middle of the block, the little girls just go on playing dress-up on the stoops. Their mothers aren’t called away from their soap operas by buzzing party lines. Why even the old men playing dominoes on sidewalk tables outside the cafe don’t stop to look up anymore.
After all, it’s just Mrs. Birany calling after Brian again. Nothing to worry about. Ol’ Brian wouldn’t hurt a fly.
- playing dress-up
- watched the spider high in the corner
- in the middle of the block