A MIDNIGHT DISTURBANCE
The low rumbling noise came to his attention after he switched channels. Half-awake as he was, Bon Adventure quickly flicked the button to escape the wails of some unheard-of group Letterman uses to close out his show. Stopping at a sedate interview, he lays the control on the couch cushion and listens as two men seated at a table drone together. A few minutes pass before he becomes aware of the idling noise outside. Not many cars pass by his house during the course of a normal day. But after nightfall the street turns into a ghostly deserted place. Even ordinary foot traffic dies down before ten o‘clock, so his mind becomes fixed on the intrusive sound. He looks at the clock above the television. It reads eleven-thirty. Without getting up from the couch, he reaches over to part an end curtain that frames a large picture window. He peers outside at the dark scene. There at his curb he sees headlights casting their twin beams down the road. They point west, illuminating a small portion of his street. A row of amber lights mounted on the roof of a pickup truck glow softly. He cannot tell if anyone is inside the cab of the truck, so he releases the curtain and goes back to staring at the tube. The engine outside continues to rumble on. Bon Adventure clicks the remote control twice to increase the volume coming from the television. Outside the truck idles for five more minutes. Then ten minutes go by. He gets up off of the couch during a commercial and goes to the front door. Cool night air hits his face as he stands close to the screen. Switching on the front porch light, he stays at the storm door, staring out at the mysterious vehicle. After hearing no voices, nor seeing a soul in or around the truck, he flips the light switch off and returns to the couch to sit. At the next commercial Bon Adventure gets up to go visit the bathroom. He enjoys peeing in the dark, so he avoids turning on lights. There is no reason to, since the bathroom window next to the stool looks out onto the street. Neighbors could watch him all too easily, plus his aim is accurate. His right forearm rests on the window sill. He can scarcely make out the bed of the pickup as it sits and runs leisurely. As soon as Bon Adventure flushes, four paces take him to the dim hallway. Ten more and he turns right into a low-lit kitchen. A fluorescent light over the kitchen sink hums while it glows. Trixie always forgets to turn it off in the morning. Her husband leaves it on for the rest of the day because for the rest of the day he intends to do dishes. Sometimes he does. For now, the counter is cluttered with a few dirty ones. The drain basket in one sink was emptied earlier, except for one single spoon. Bon Adventure removes it. Now at least the sink is in order. One yogurt remains in the fridge. He takes it and shuts the door, and then he returns to sit on the couch. The annoying truck outside continues to idle. This is good yogurt, he thinks. It’s not too sweet and just thick enough. Bites of tart peach roll over his tongue. Then the spoon pauses in mid-air. A shadowy figure travels through his peripheral vision. Bon Adventure looks sharply to his left. But on the other side the picture window he sees no more movement. The figure simply vanished. He leans and reaches for the remote to kill the sound. There on the couch he devours the remainder of his yogurt bathed in silent flickering light. Outside a door slams shut with a thud. The motor of the truck revs loudly one time; then once again. Bon Adventure holds the empty cup still while licking his spoon clean . The rumbling noise slowly pulls away from the curb. In a few seconds it gurgles and fades away as the truck makes the turn down at the corner. Some dark stranger next guns the engine hard, which causes tires to squeak against the night pavement. Bon Adventure’s street, his beloved quiet Street of Tranquility, once again becomes serene. And so does he. Once he locks the front door, he clicks the television off. There is little worth watching after midnight. Spoon goes to the kitchen counter to spend the night. Cup goes in the garbage. In the den Bon Adventure ensures both the garage overhead door and a side door are closed and latched right. He then rolls a security bar for the sliding glass door in place, using his big toe. The deck beyond the door lays partially lit with faint moonlight. He stands there for a moment, and then he tests the door once. Back to the kitchen to turn off the one remaining light; from there he shall go to bed. Bon Adventure reaches behind the coffee maker for the light switch. Then in that act he freezes when he hears an unknown male voice. The voice is drifting in through an open window near the kitchen table. It floats in on nocturnal air, weaving around the Pin oak tree that has grown steadily for fifty years between the house next door and his. The light over the sink clicks off. Bon Adventure then softly makes his way across the kitchen to the window. The faint words he hears muttered outside are brief. Someone mumbles something somewhere on the shaded driveway of house next door. He cannot make out any individual shape in this moonless part of yard, yet he knows the house across the driveway is supposed to be vacant. So here is another curious thing for Bon Adventure to consider. The previous tenants and their two little boys moved out last week, which took them four days to accomplish. The empty house now sits available for rent. Bon Adventure spoke with the landlady only two days ago, plus he saw the For Rent sign out in the yard. And just this morning he made his son David take back an abandoned piece of furniture the boy had dragged home from the curb over there. “We have enough junk already, son.” But no one thought to keep Bon Adventure informed of new occupants moving in. All he can do now is wonder. What sort of people move in at midnight? Are these Gypsies? Or could they be thieves who take more than the advantage of the hour? Should I bother the realtor right now and ask her if she rented to these midnight shufflers? Or should I call the police to let them sort it out? He hears the indistinct voice speak, but this time it seems to come from the other end of the drive. There are no lights on over there. Darn if I can see who is talking. But there is that blasted truck again. The pickup truck has returned. And once more it sets parked out in front of the Bon Adventure home, idling away the time while filling the night air with noxious noise. It just smells like trouble to Bon Adventure. Trouble at the edge of the little swamp in peaceful Hoohooville.