The next week, Tuesday rolled around and I went to Jean’s house. As much of a “nosey-nellie” as she seemed to be, I was surprised that she hadn’t yet insinuated herself into my personal life, which was fine with me.
As we were sipping our coffee in the tiny little tea set, I couldn’t help but laugh when in her usual fashion, she closed her eyes and started to ramble on about the neighbor who lived two houses down from her.
“Now, we call him Leo the klepto. You do know what a kleptomaniac is, don’t you? Of course you do. He will steal anything that isn’t nailed down. He steals the silverware from restaurants and then goes to the bathroom and steals the toilet tissue. He has stolen yard decorations from the neighborhood and once he knocked on a door up the street and asked to use the bathroom. Being a small town, we’re pretty trusting people, you know. Anyway, he went into this young couple’s house, used the bathroom, went through the cabinet and stole the woman’s pregnancy test. But the best or worst, depending on how you look at it, was that along with the test, he took her grandmother’s false teeth.”
She laughed out loud and I admit, so did I. She continued, “he’s basically harmless and when he takes something from one of us, say like a lawn chair or a gnome from our garden, or somebody’s false teeth, we just walk over there and take or ask for it back.”
I said, more or less to myself than to Jean, “so I’m thinking I probably shouldn’t hang out my seasonal flags?” Jean said “oh, you can hang them out but when they disappear, just be prepared to go get them back from Leo.”
“Is he suffering from dementia?” I asked. “Oh, no.” she said. “He just goes through these phases where he feels the urge to steal. He used to work up at the Salvation Army Thrift Store but they had to let him go because he kept stealing the shoes. Now mind you, he didn’t care if they were men’s shoes, women’s shoes or children’s shoes and he didn’t even care if he got a pair. He just stole shoes. They were trying to help him and even tried to ‘pray away the affliction’ as they called it but it didn’t work. He lives off of a pretty good inheritance, which is why it’s so strange that he steals. We just let him be and keep a sharp eye peeled when he comes to the neighborhood parties, which by the way of course, you will be attending.”
Jean was certainly what you would call brashly assertive but her amusing way of talking made it a little less annoying. I was actually starting to enjoy hearing her stories about the neighbors.
Again I thanked Jean for the coffee and the company. “I need to get back home and do some more unpacking,” I said. “I’m trying to get things organized in the basement and it’s going to take a while.”
Jean surprised me when she said “you need some help? I’m pretty good at unpacking.”
I declined but told her that I appreciated the offer. What I didn’t say, even though I enjoyed her stories, was that her incessant talking would probably drive me insane if I had to spend more time with her than it took to drink a tiny cup of coffee.
She said “okay then. See you next Tuesday. I insist.”
As I walked across the street, I was thinking “so far, I’ve learned that there’s a hell fire and brimstone preaching judge who stands on the corner and a kleptomaniac who lives two doors down from Jean.” Suddenly this quaint little neighborhood was looking a little more interesting.
To be continued_____________