By Pamela Painter
The neighbors are at it again is what Joey says, just what his father would say ifhe were here. And just like his father, Joey shuts off all the lights, peels back the curtains over the sink, and settles in to watch the show.
The kitchen table is piled high with hot, dry laundry. I can fold it in the dark so I sit here listening to Joey describe what is flying out the Angelos’ windows. So far it’s plates, clothes, poker chips, and a fishing rod.
“Jesus, Mom, you’re missing it. Mr. Angelo threw out the toaster. Wait’ll Dad hears that.” His excited sneakers thump the stove as he turns to ask if I remember when Mrs. Angelo flattened a whole row of my tomato plants with a bowling ball.
I tell him it’s way past bedtime but he just gets his nose closer to the window to identify the next object and assess the damage. They keep lists– Joey and his father. Things thrown, sound effects made, and grievances screamed to the heavens as if to bring down a pre-apocalyptic condemnation.
Tonight it started with Mrs. Angelo’s mother’s weekend visits and moved on to Mr. Angelo’s unfinished basement projects and early exits from his weekly poker game to parts and/or parties unknown. It is the same game my Harry has been losing too much money in for years and getting worse. The threadbare towels I’m folding are thin as silk and fold as flat.
“Wow,” Joey says as Mrs. Angelo yowls one of her favorite fourletter words and the names of two forgiving saints. On purpose, I’m mismatching Harry’s socks and thinking the exact same thing as Mrs. Angelo.
“Mom,” Joey says, getting tired of the Angelos’ show. “Where’s Dad? Why isn’t he home?”
Tonight I’ll have to tell him. Because me and Harry. We’re at it again too.
The streetlight from Joey’s window glints on our toaster, plugged in and safe, and I think: me and Harry should take lessons from the Angelos. I admire the way they fight-everything flying out the windows and doors except the two of them.