"You wanna talk to me about what?" The suburban father laughed as he gently set his garden hose on the healthy looking lawn and placed his hands on his hips.
"Your neighbor, if that's not a problem," I answered quietly.
"Why would you want to do a thing like that?" He squinted. "You a cop?"
"No. I'm a journalist and a photographer, sir."
"What's a reporter care for some reclusive old man for, anyway?"
"So, he's older then?"
"I assume so. He's been there longer than we have," he assumed as he stroked the stubble on his chin.
I had just finished a six week long stint in Baghdad, reporting on the war. The mayhem and tumult had gotten to me. I needed something… calmer. I was driving through that suburban neighborhood a few days after my return to the States when I spotted the house. 28 Lucinda Drive.
The house was decades older than any of the others on Lucinda. It instantly caught my eye. My first reaction was that it was surely abandoned. A full side of the house was covered in moss and vines with fledgling plants just beginning their ascents on the other walls. The windows were dark with inactivity and the wooden siding looked as if it could fall off at any moment. The lawn was a heavy contrast from his neighbors'. The suburban father, Robert Knickerbocker, had a lawn of a luscious green. The lawn at 28 Lucinda Drive was a color that my girlfriend affectionately called 'decaying lemon'. The occupant had an ancient weeping willow in their backyard, whose vegetation hung sadly over the rotting roof.
Every first impression made me want to pass it off as an abandoned house, but I knew there was more. That night, as I sat at the curb taking in the archaic beauty of the shack, I heard something within the confines of the house. It was a clanging sound, like a hammer slamming against an anvil as if something was being crafted. A fiery curiosity raged within me. I had to know what was being built.
So that's how I found myself on the lawn of the Knickerbocker residence, talking with the man of the house. "He keeps to himself though, which is good for a neighbor. Every once in a while we see something strange, but that's about the extent of it."
"Strange like how?" I asked.
"My wife always sees him at night. I think that's the strangest thing. Nobody I know on the street has seen him during the daytime. Sometimes, he'll garden in the back, but at night. It doesn't affect us. He's quiet, mostly. The rest of the neighborhood says differently, but…" His voice trailed off as he bent over to retrieve his hose.
"I just hear things at block parties and whatnot. I don't see how anyone else could possibly see or hear more than us, but I guess you'd have to ask them, eh?"
"I suppose so." I reached into my wallet and plucked out a small business card. "Here. If you hear or see anything that you think I should know about, give me a call." Mr. Knickerbocker grabbed the card and nodded. We exchanged goodbyes and I walked back to my car. I had to find out what went on at the old house on 28 Lucinda Drive.