One evening, Allie worked in her front yard. A couple wandered up and stopped.
Allie saw them out of the corner of her eye, and when they slowed, she grew
suspicious. There wasn’t a reason to be, but there were some sketchy characters
that passed by on occasion. She probably watched too much CNN.
“We’re your new neighbors,” the woman said. She was dressed nicely and had a tan coat on.
“Oh,” Allie said. She’d never met any of her neighbors. She lived in Riverwest, a neighborhood her real estate agent referred to as “transitional.” Like the rest of my life, Allie thought at the time. And it did suit her, the mixed ethnicities, the eclectic coffee shops and dive bars.
“I’m Bart,” the man said. He was pasty white like most folks from Milwaukee, with a slightly protruding beer belly. Allie noticed his groomed beard, reddish with emerging hints of gray.
“And I’m Denise.” The woman smiled, revealing perfect caps on her front teeth.
“I’m Allie,” she said, thinking I should have worn a bra. People never stopped. Or maybe she’d never worked on her lawn. No, she never really paid attention at all.
“Which house is yours?” Allie asked. She assumed it wasn’t the crack house to her immediate left. Or the Asian family who lived to her right. In the heat, the simmering smell of Szechuan cooking hovered between houses.
“We live in that house,” Denise said, pointing down the street at a blue two-story.
The one house on her block Allie never even noticed. Maybe because ever since she’d moved there two years prior, the house remained vacant. “Well, welcome to the neighborhood,” Allie said. She felt self-conscious, the way she felt around her family. Although familiar, it made her to want to go inside. Hide. “Nice to meet you both,” she forced out. “I’ve got to start dinner.” She turned to go.
“Allie,” Denise said.
She turned slowly around. The woman was holding a gun. It was pointed directly at her.