Things we do in the dark

My dog and I are meandering down our usual path for his evening rituals when we run across a first for both of us. It isn’t the creepy Halloween scene our neighbor set up more than a month ahead of time across the street. It is the dilapidated house at the end of the dead-end road with a white windowless van; a van that looks prime to be full of candy and posters of missing puppies. We usually end up here to take a look at the overflowing mailbox and the unkempt yard. I often wonder if the owners left and just never came back, but there are always three vehicles in the driveway, albeit only one without flat tires. Sniffing the air for the acridity of death, my thoughts often wander to places I’d rather them not.

But tonight, as we head in that direction, I hear an odd sound that I can’t place since it is 9:30 at night. Does someone have a generator running? Everyone’s lights are on, so that doesn’t seem likely. It sounds like a lawnmower, but that doesn’t make sense. As we get closer, there is a man pushing a mower, wearing jeans, a long sleeve flannel shirt, a covid mask, a ball cap, and sunglasses. I wanted to just stand there watching him mow his lawn by the light of his outdoor floodlight. Fear keeps me moving. I envision him suddenly whipping his head in my direction, catching me in my voyeuristic ways. My mind travels through the different outcomes, while I tug my dog to head back home in hopes that he wouldn’t catch sight of the late-night yard man and start howling his displeasure. As we scamper home down the unlit neighborhood street, at least I could now put my unanswered question to rest.

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