Down the street there’s a dilapidated house that sits on red clay devoid of any hint of greenery, devoid of any sign of blooming flowers- not even the kind that randomly sprout in purples and yellows. The sun is setting and I’m focused on a slight glow that’s hovering above an area of green grass on my lawn.
Know why that yard looks like that, he asks me as I stand at the window and stare across the street at a seemingly different world. It’s because it’s a Dope House, he says with a look of amusement on his face that is quickly replaced with annoyance when he realizes I’m not understanding the significance of this. There’s always a ton of people wandering in and out of there. Making deals, he continues.
I gaze back over to the house. There’s several small children in a variety of ages playing out front. Some of the smaller ones don’t have shirts on. None of them are wearing shoes.
There’s at least ten adults roaming around the property. Every one of them is equipped with either a cigarette or a beer. Some of them have both. I’m confused again as I realize there is only one car parked in front of the house.
What is it, he says with a smirk as he notices my expression.
I mean, I say hesitantly. I already know I will be belittled for my question but my curiosity is too strong. There’s only one car. How do they all get to work?
He laughs as if I’ve just told him the most hilarious one-liner he’s ever heard.
Dope Heads don’t work.
He erupts into laughter again. I’m still confused.
Well if they don’t work, how do they get money for drugs, I ask.
At this point I’m too intrigued to care if I sound ignorant.
They probably sell those babies out, he says and I know he’s hoping for a horrified reaction. Instead, I feel like I might cry. I watch the smallest baby. It’s walking on the clay dirt without shoes on and a pacifier in it’s mouth. I’m afraid it might get bitten by fire ants. None of the adults seem to care. I estimate that the baby is between eighteen months and two years old. I wonder to myself if it was born addicted to drugs.
A police car pulls up and parks at the curb in front of our house and for a moment I feel relieved as I think that maybe another neighbor called the cops and reported these obviously negligent caregivers whose toddlers are roaming aimlessly up and down the street.
Instead, the cop crosses my lawn and He hurries to our bedroom, instructing me to tell them he’s not home.
I open the door and am issued a citation because my pitbull has jumped the chainlink fence in our backyard again and has apparently been prowling the streets and frightening my neighbors.
The cop doesn’t even acknowledge the dope house or the babies who have wandered halfway down the block as he pulls off.
I realize the glow on my lawn is a firefly and my heart breaks at the thought that those kids in that dope house will probably never experience the childish joy of catching fireflies in glass jars.