Fiction

“Neighborhood Watch, circa 2009” by Susan Rukeyser

“Oh, you have an answering machine? I thought all you Millennials used voicemail. Look, I know you’re home. I watched you pull into the garage. I see you’ve added another bumper sticker to your Prius: hope not hate. You girls have some nerve.

“So you’re screening my call? Suit yourself. This is Mrs. Darcy Wallace, from across the street, and, yes, it’s about the lamb. Here it is, a beautiful spring day, and the Colemans’ lawn ornament is still under a tarp. Like it has been since you bought the house. I imagine Betsy Coleman would’ve taken her lamb with her, if she’d known you were just going to hide it. I mean, if she hadn’t died. We had all that rain yesterday, but you didn’t see me covering up our Easter cross. We have an HOA in this subdivision. Restrictive covenants. You girls are from somewhere up north, right? Some city?

“You’re in Georgia now. This is a nice neighborhood. Our home values have taken enough of a hit, thanks to your Obama. I saw that bumper sticker, too. I know some of you homosexuals are drawn to Atlanta for the permissive culture. But this is not Atlanta. We have traditional values here.

“Cindi, at the corner, says there are churches that allow homosexuals, now, but you don’t go because you’re Jewish. Not the one of you who’s Black, obviously. You, with the nose.

“I’m not homophobic, don’t go calling the ACLU. (The mailman misdelivered your membership renewal. You should know—we’re patriots, here.) Gays love to play the victim card. Like the Blacks, for that matter. Or you Jews. Never let anything go.

“My husband and I are descended from Confederate heroes. We raised six children in this neighborhood. Suddenly we’re expected to let anyone in, even if they don’t respect our traditions? And hide the lamb of God at Eastertime? My family is saved, do you understand?

“You’ve been home a few minutes now, maybe you’ve started to look for your cat? While you were out, I saw her at the window. I thought, ‘Wouldn’t it be just like liberals to leave their windows unlocked, as if trust makes you a better person?’ She didn’t fight much. She’s okay, she’s in a cage. Don’t think of coming over here. I have a gun, and I think it’s a fair bet that you do not.

“Just uncover the lamb. People are talking; I’m doing you a favor, honestly. Do it and your cat comes home safe. Oh look, your garage door’s opening. What’s the Black one of you got in her hand? A baseball bat? Am I supposed to be scared? I already told you: I have a gun. Call her off! She comes onto my property and I’ll shoot. I do have some rights left in Obama’s America. Do you see what she’s doing to my Easter cross? Make her stop! I’d say you’re going to Hell, but you were already. You think you’re getting your cat back now? I’ll drown her in my tub! I gave you a chance. How many notes did I leave, before you pushed me to this?

“She’s at my door! Still with the bat! And you, running down your front walk with a kitchen knife? You don’t scare me, you lunatics! You lesbians! I have a gun, didn’t you hear me?

“Fine, take her! I didn’t hurt her, obviously. I’m not violent like you people. I don’t shove my politics down everyone’s throats. Just like a couple of Yankees, not closing the door behind you when you leave. Southerners have manners, haven’t you heard? Since when is there no freedom of speech, anyway? Since when do we bully real Americans? You should know that I’ll be reporting you to the—”

Beeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeeep….click.

Rukeyser Susan 20182Susan Rukeyser is a white lady but she’s trying to do better. She’s half-Jewish, queer, and in recovery from 12 years in the suburban South. She wrote the novel Not On Fire, Only Dying (Twisted Road Publications) and a chapbook of tiny stories, Swap / Meet (Space Cowboy Books). She edited and published Feckless Cunt: A Feminist Anthology. Susan’s short work appears in numerous places, including River Teeth, Mojave He[art] Review, Luna Luna, and Monkeybicycle. In 2017, Susan moved home to the Mojave, although she grew up in Connecticut.


Photo: Answering Machine by Susan Sermoneta via Flickr