First, my neighbor became a cowboy. Then, when his wife divorced him, he became a bandit in a mask. Overnight, he lost access to his house and became something like a raccoon.
He dug through our trash. I caught him. He denied everything in the beam of my flashlight.
A neighbor we shared, remembers once finding him dozing in her kitchen. She’d arrived late after a surprise late-shift. He was there at her kitchen table, eating cereal from a bowl. He was reading through letters she’d never read for herself. He confronted her about them, but could barely keep his eyes open. She was a widower with a longtime lover and still very ashamed.
Another mutual neighbor found him one morning asleep in the back of our neighbor’s car. Our neighbor asked him to leave, admitting that, while he was sorry for his rough life up ‘til now, he did not want a vagrant taking advantage of him and that, after all, it was a backseat and not a bed. ‘I know how many people have the clap because of you,’ said ‘the bandit,’ as we now referred to him. ‘Here’s all the evidence I need, you plague,’ he said, littering the back of the man’s car with handfuls of medical slips.
The cowboy once had a beautiful yard, and once had worn handsome sweaters, he had even built a treehouse in advance for the son he’d planned to have. Now he was missing many teeth and stank.
I met him for the last time, very near the very edge of his demise. He was sitting at the edge of the pool in my backyard. I was about to dive in, as I did every morning.
‘Not so fast,’ he said.
But I was already on the diving board. I hadn’t seen him. He shook me. He’d come into my booze by luck of my unlocked sliding glass door.
‘Your wife never once felt adequately loved,’ he said. He held a box of things discarded I kept downstairs. He had become so hairy and could not stand on two feet.