Neighborly, Standing Sentinel
But as he shambled out onto his patio, brown shoulderblades rounded under the stark white weight of his impeccable wifebeater, I saw obliquely through my window a young man of perhaps thirteen walk across the neighbor's empty carpad and make as though to jump the fence into the next yard, looking warily over his right shoulder, face shaded beneath a trucker's cap. His arms over the fence, he let slip two red globes to the ground on the other side; through the chainlink I watched them fall.
"Sure, g'ahead drop the tuh-may-tuhs like I don't see them," my neighbor chided, resigned.
Understanding: this was about tomatoes. One of the neighborhood toughs had entered my neighbor's property, opening or jumping either of two gates, to steal tomatoes.
As my neighbor neared the boy, he jumped the fence, as though to put a protective barrier between himself and the old man. But he didn't bolt. He stood rooted to the ground on the other side, just opposite, and took his licks like a man. By the end of the encounter, my neighbor was standing just a couple of feet from the boy, hands on his hips, voice no longer raised enough for me to hear, and the boy rested his chin on his arms atop the fence. They could have been grandfather and grandson.
Regardless, evidently I lack the imagination to anticipate what the neighborhood children are capable of. Good thing I don't have Binky's garden.