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The Midnight gardener.   —   A New York Moment

Last night as Adam and I were crawling into bed I noticed through the window a woman in red. At first I didn't pay much attention to her, I see many people standing outside at all hours of the night, doing nothing, doing something, smoking a cigarette, watching their dog take a shit, you know, whatever. But as I lay there on my stomach, propped upon my elbows, pillow bunched to my chest, ready to read my book by booklight, I glanced out the window again (as it was right in front of me) and noticed the woman in red bent over with a large and quite full garbage bag by her side. At first I figured she'd spilled something and was bending over to pick whatever that was up, but as I looked a little harder I noticed she was pulling at something on the ground. She was pulling weeds. Too intrigued to ignore this oddity I grabbed my binoculars (every New Yorker should have a pair) and proceeded to narrate to my snoozing husband what the women in red was doing. He was all, "yes dear", and "go to bed", as I, ignoring him of course, continued to verbalize what she was doing. What exactly was she doing? It's a good question and one that I can't really answer. At first she pulled the weeds from between the sidewalk cracks, picked them right clean, and stuffed her garbage bag with what she had pulled. Then she moved on to the dumpster and proceeded to pull the weeds that were growing beside it. Some of those weeds were a few feet tall and she just yanked them out and stuffed them in her bag. After she picked that area clean she moved on to the side of the building and plucked up all of those weeds. She pulled at them, yanked at them, got them all up and bent down further to snag up all the tufts of grass growing between the cracks. When it would appear that the area was safe from the offending foliage she'd drag and scratch her fingers through the cracks and in the dirt to be sure none of it could hide from her. For the longest time I couldn't get a glimpse of her face, she stayed bent over pretty much the whole time and all I was seeing was her rear end and the underside of her ponytail. A terrible thought occurred to me as I continued to peer into the binoculars and I suddenly had flashes of scenes from Jacobs Ladder. For a moment I was convinced that the woman would turn her head and look directly at me, her face twisted and deformed, her eyes glowing red, and she would smile a hungry and vicious smile and I would be left terrified and trying to convince Adam of what I'd just seen and he would be all, "yes dear", and "you've been reading too much Stephen King". But that didn't happen ... unfortunately.

Now, I should note that this woman did not appear homeless. She had on decent clothes, black pants and a red pullover. Her hair was in a ponytail, she had on red lipstick and silver fingernail polish and lots of jewelry. She was about 5'4 and portly and if I had to guess her age I'd have put her at 50. What's more is that she had one of those walker canes at her side, using it to move from one spot to the next but never appearing to have difficulty with being bent over for long stretches of time. There was a moment that she stopped to rest, took out a cigarette and started smoking. Then I heard the door to my building open and out walks one of my neighbors. I can hear him call out and the woman in red looks his way and nods in acknowledgment. Then I see him walk over to her and they start talking like they're old friends. Finally he says, "I'll see ya later" and she nods, sure, and he walks down the sidewalk away from her, and she puts out her cigarette, looks around her, and starts to weed the sidewalk again. I finally gave up after thirty minutes of watching her weed and no end to her mission in sight. For a moment I considered going outside and asking her why she was collecting weeds, but reconsidered and asked Adam to instead. Predictably he responded to my request with an unamused and rather clipped, "No.", and so I turned to Commodore who had been watching the woman with me, and I asked him to go out there to see what was what. He responded with a head-butt to my forehead and proceeded down to the end of the bed where he curled up into a ball and covered his eyes with his tail. So much for my men. Looking at the clock and seeing it was almost 2AM I decided that I no longer had to read my Stephen King novel for a taste of the unusual. Sometimes New York just gives it to you for free.

Posted 10.13.2006 11:20:00 AM

Mr. Space wrote:
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Posted 10/20/2006 2:03:56 PM - Mr. Space's website
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