Literary

Laurie Notaro Has a Hobo Problem

Page 4 of 5

The following week, after a week of rain and freezing temperatures, I discovered a structure of sorts under my back gate, bridging the muddy span between the alley and the backyard for easy, unencumbered passage consisting of boards probably ripped off of my neighbor's fence. It was work unfettered by details and constructed by someone who subsisted on a strict diet of soup.

The week after that, my little dog woke me up at 6:30 a.m. to alert me that something was amiss at our front door. After I stumbled down the stairs, I found a man I had never seen before standing in front of my neighbor's house, who turned and ambled across the street with the speed of a threatened silverback as soon as I opened the door. Within three seconds, he was quickly on my porch as clouds of frost shot out of his mouth and he waved his arms boldly about.

"I need gas!" he demanded, his eyes bulging. "I need lawnmower gas right now! How much do you have? I'm going to the Four Corners!"

"We don't have a lawnmower!" I replied quickly, which was equally insane because he should have known that. There was no doubt in my mind that he'd been in our backyard. A hobo doesn't go very far without his stuff, maybe a block or two, so that meant that his base camp was nearby. Very nearby.

Aside from that, I would never give a hobo gas, even if I did want him to relocate to another state.

In Phoenix, a hobo arsonist tried to set out backyard on fire in the middle of the night and there I was when the fire department arrived, holding a hose and wearing just a tank top and a pair of Fruit-of-the-Loom white cotton briefs. You only need to make that mistake once.

I shut the door quickly and couldn't help being disappointed. He didn't have a bandanna on a stick, he wasn't humming and he did not seem jolly in the least. My hobo was mean. And high. He was just a crack head that really would drive a lawnmower to the border of Arizona and Utah without a picture ID and like someone who was not at all bothered by the fact that he had become unaccustomed to using toilet paper.

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Laurie Notaro