The neighborhood has seen better days, but Mrs. Pauley has lived there since before anyone can remember. She raised a family of six boys, who’ve all grown up and moved away. Since Mr. Pauley died three months ago, she’d had no income. She’s fallen behind in the rent. The landlord, accompanied by the police, has come to evict Mrs. Pauley from the house she’s lived in for forty years.
I’ve never been inside her home and I’ve rarely seen her outside. The bushes are overgrown and the weeds have taken over, what must have once been a pretty flower garden. Mr. Pauley used to do all of the gardening. He never got angry when I asked him questions about why he did this or that with his plants.
The landlord is tramping all over the weeds. He looks like a mean man and I feel sorry for Mrs. Pauley even though I don’t know her well. My mom said she is an agoraphobic. That means Mrs. Pauley is afraid of leaving her house. I wonder how they will get her out. The police keep trying to calm down the angry man holding a large hammer in his hand. One policeman takes it away and the man gets angrier.
I see Mrs. Pauley peek out from her curtains. Just one eye and her nose come through between the folds in the fabric. That one eye looks terrified. My mom told me not to interfere, that she would try to get in touch with one of her children. Didn’t they know she was in trouble? I would know if my mom was in trouble. And if she was, I would help her.
My front door creaks behind me. I see my mom staring across the street and she is talking to someone on the phone. She doesn’t sound happy. She’s using her angry tone which means someone is being unreasonable. Usually that someone is me or dad, but not this time. I hear the phone slam down on a table and my mother utters the word stupid. She never says things like that. She’s told me time and time again never to call anyone stupid. You can call a car stupid or a chair, but not another person. She must be very angry.
The door opens behind me and my mother comes out of the house and stomps around me. I stand up from my perch on the brick step, but she waves me to sit back down. She jogs to the police across the street and starts talking to them. I can’t hear what they are saying but both policemen nod and one goes back to the police car.
The angry runs over to my mom and starts yelling at her. I can’t help but stand up and start walking to the sidewalk, but I stop in the middle of my lawn when I hear sirens approaching. That’s when I notice that half of the block is out on their porch watching the drama unfold.
I return to my spot on the porch.
The ambulance pulls up near Mrs. Pauley’s house and a man and woman get out of it. My mom and the police officer talk to them. I guess they’re making a plan on how to get her out of the house. Suddenly there is shouting coming from the large window of Mrs. Pauley’s home. She is yelling at everyone to leave, to get off her property.
The angry man strides forward toward the front door but the other policeman steps in front of him. Now Mrs. Pauley and the angry man are shouting at each other through the window.
I wish my mom didn’t go over there. I don’t like that man. I wish daddy was home; his voice is louder than mom’s even though mom’s angry stare is scarier. Between the both of them, the angry man wouldn’t stand a chance.
Suddenly blue station wagon comes to a screeching halt in front of the ambulance. A pile of suitcases are strapped to the top and a tall man wearing beach clothes jumps out of the car. A petite pretty woman gets out of the passenger seat. The tall man looks just like Mr. Pauley only lots of years younger. The shouting stops and my mom smiles at the young man. While the tall Mr. Pauley look-a-like walks over to the now not-so-angry man the petite woman goes inside the house.
The EMTs go inside with the petite woman and then, after speaking with the angry landlord, the tall man shakes my mom’s hand then goes inside the house. The door shuts and all the neighbors return to whatever it was they were doing before.
My mom comes back across the street and holds out her hand. I hold her hand and we walk into the house. Over two ice cream sundaes, my mom told me that that was Mrs. Pauley’s son who drove like mad, from where he was vacationing, as soon as he found out what was going to happen to his mother. My mom said Mrs. Pauley would live with him from now on and she wouldn’t have to worry about anything. Right there and then I vowed, that when I was old enough, I would take care of my parents.