Literary

Laurie Notaro Has a Hobo Problem

Page 5 of 5

That was the last time I encountered the hobo or any sign of him, except when I saw him at Safeway several months later, pushing a stolen grocery cart full of stuff including a lampshade I thought I could really do something with.

Clearly, his dreams of reaching the Four Corners on a lawnmower had not been realized, and he had replaced that reverie with spitting at traffic instead.

Then the complaint letter arrived, giving us ten days to maintain the bushes in the alley or face a fine from the city. We bought a pole trimmer, unlocked the back gate, noticed the bridge was gone--clearly if you lock out a hobo, he takes back his gifts-- and crossed the border into hobo Narnia.

We were halfway done when my husband shut off the trimmer.

"What's in there?" he asked, pointing hesitantly to the portion of the bushes he had just cut.

There was a large mass of something blue, several bags of empty soda cans and a pair of jeans.

"That's the hobo's apartment," I said nervously, shooting a glance down the alley in case was coming, even though I knew I'd hear the clatter of beer bottles before the spitting started.

"There's something in there," my husband said, leaning in closer. "Holy shit! There's a body in there!"

Now, I suppose it would be different if this was the first body my husband had suddenly found this year, but it wasn't (although I'm not allowed to write about it because it's "still not funny, Laurie," I just checked). The thought of an expired open-air tenant filled me with dread, fear, and most of all, anger. I couldn't believe this was about to happen again. After the last body (still not funny; I checked again) it took two weeks of watching the entire catalog of Pixar movies and eating Dominos pizza every night before my husband had calmed down enough to resist poking me every time I closed my eyes.

This was really unfair. I didn't want him to go through that again, and personally, I can only watch Cars 2 once a year. If the yoga people didn't insist on using the alley as their own personal street and then feel they had the right to complain to the city that our bushes were scratching their cars, we wouldn't be back here in the first place.

My anger turned to rage

"You know what?" I yelled loud enough for all of our neighbors to hear me. "I HATE THE YOGA PEOPLE! I hate them! This is all of their fault!"

"I agree. I hate them, too. Now help me," my husband said as he reached toward the mound, and with gloved hands, we each pulled the bundle of blue out. It wasn't heavy, but then again, it's not like you can't stick a mummy in a backpack and hike out of a tomb with it.

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Laurie Notaro