there are two cops standing on my corner. i can watch them from my window but i dont. they do nothing. they just stand there. waiting for crime, i guess.
i havent seen much crime in my neighborhood, although just the other night, when i was dropped off in front of my corner bodega at 330 am, i saw an odd group of guys standing near the bulletproof revolving window, waiting to get something from the store. they were in their twenties -mid to late- and two were black and one was white.
the two black guys eyed me as i walked by, one sneered a bit or maybe it was a small smile, and his teeth glinted in the street lamps glow. two teeth were gold. the other one looked my way but didnt smile. they both wore jeans and one had a sweatshirt, even though its summer and the air was still warm.
the white guy wore khaki shorts and birkenstock sandals. he had his polo shirt tucked in and he was carrying a backpack. he wore a shaggy crop of hair and had a little pudgy face. he did not look at me.
i nodded at them all and went passed to a bodega on another corner. strange lot, i thought.
The cops on my corner look relaxed. one has his right foot up and is leaning with his back against the wall and the other cop is standing to his side, telling him something. maybe a story. maybe bitching about work.
the other day my neighbors were sitting on the stoop. two old ladies, gossiping in their clipped island accents. a cop van rolled up across the street and one of the ladies got up and folded her chair and pushed passed me into the building lobby.
"don' need de hassle," she said.
no cops got out of the van that time, they just sat for a minute, doing paperwork, then left without making even a gesture towards the neighborhood. the heat was still and thick and the old lady on the stoop wiped her forehead and cheek with a napkin. i stood at the top of the stairs with one hand holding the door open. my tshirt stuck to the sweat on my chest and back. the old woman looked up at me from her chair and smiled and wiped her forehead again. when she smiled her face swelled up and her eyebrows raised. the wrinkles on her forehead would darken and her silver hair lifted just a bit. it softened all her features. i smiled back.
the old man that lives next door to me came to the stoop and started walking up the stairs toward me. he had on his usual uniform. overalls and a hat and tshirt and boots.
"ay der neighbor," he waved walking past me.
"alright," i nodded.
the old lady stared ahead into the street, mopping her brow absently. i followed the old man in and wondered why the other old lady was so wary of the police. as i closed the door the old lady on the stoop put her hand out so i shut it softly, not letting it lock.