The House Painters

The house painters surrounded the Catlin’s home while they were on vacation. Funny, they never mentioned having their exterior done over. Not that we were close friends. Hell, when Priscilla and I refurbished our basement it’s not like we announced it to the neighborhood. Still, the outside of one’s home is the first thing people see and, well, lime green sort of seems very unlike the Catlins.

There were six house painters who worked fast. I’m not a snoop, just a guy who likes to walk the area when I’m not teaching history. We have a solid community, I think. People communicate, except for Old Man Willet, who speaks to no one. I bring him up because that’s where the painters went next. Willet is a burnt umber kind of guy and they were doing his place in lemon and silver, a combination I’d never seen before on anything. I doubt he even emerged once to inspect the monstrosity. I did have to admit these guys did a professional job.

In a disturbing pattern, over the next two weeks four more houses were repainted in garish colors ranging from orange-red to turquoise. Our gray split level seemed quaint by comparison. Plus, one day, strangers showed up and began installing sturdy cable wire from tree to tree. I asked the foreman what this was and he just showed me a work order signed by our councilman Ormsby. I immediately drove to his office—I voted for this guy—and demanded answers.

He gave me a bemused smile.

“You’ve been skipping meetings, Niles”, he admonished. “We’ve always been a compassionate town and in these tough times when we heard of a traveling circus that had lost their permanent home we did what we had to do. Eminent domain, my friend, over a five block area, which includes yours, is what we decided.”

“Why us?”

“You have plenty of kids and kids love circuses. Think of the educational opportunities right outside their door.”

“But the noise and overcrowding…”

I could see by his expression this was a done deal and arguing was futile.

That was two months ago and though we weren’t forced out of our homes, life has changed dramatically. Each of us has a large tent on what used to be our front lawn. Priscilla and I have a family of fire eaters in ours. The patriarch keeps asking for Mylanta.

Last time I had my hair cut I whined to Frank, my barber, about this entire situation. He led me out to his backyard behind the shop where an elephant sat there dozing. I shut up pretty quick.

One of the trapeze artists using the cable wire took a wrong step and landed on Ralph our mailman, breaking his sorting arm in two places. He may wind up on permanent disability and is suing the town. The trapeze people demanded better street lights.

My house has been painted with blue and purple stripes. I think it’s affecting our marriage. The fire eating kids keep peeking into our bedroom window, effectively killing our sex life.

I sense things are going to get worse before they get better.

Tomorrow brings with it the arrival of the clowns. All one hundred six of them.


Joe Del Priore is the author of Twilight People and a book reviewer for IndieReader

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