Somebody knocked on the door around 11:00. This was a pretty regular occurrence in late 2005 when we first moved in, and most of the surprise visitors were either looking for our neighbors (whose house is almost identical to ours), or were kids looking for their playmates who'd moved out. By this time last year, visits like this had stopped.
The other side of the house is populated by RJ's friends, which means that a knock on the door at 11 PM is nothing unusual (though most of the time they just come in unannounced through the garage which, if I didn't trust them so much, would be disconcerting). I didn't recognize the guy at the door, but he was looking for RJ, so I ran downstairs and got him. RJ stomped up to the front door in his bathrobe, and the conversation went something like this:
RJ: Yeah?When the guy left, we watched as he went next door and knocked over there. Then RJ went over through the garage to the back half of the house to warn them, and they said the guy had tried over there first. RJ thinks he might have been looking for a former tenant named RJ, but that sounds unlikely to me. I thought maybe he'd seen RJ's name on our mail, but our mail is delivered to late that somebody almost always gets it as soon as it's delivered. I can't imagine what he wanted -- drugs, maybe. The house next door (not the identical one) is also a duplex, and one of the tenants used to be a crack dealer, but there was always quite a bit of surveillance on that house, and he eventually got arrested. The house has been vacant for months.
Guy: I'm looking for RJ.
RJ: How do you know RJ?
Guy: We go bowling all the time. Can I talk to him?
RJ: Funny, that. I'm RJ.
Guy: No, man. RJ. R... J.
Actually, this was a pretty seedy neighborhood when we moved in, but during the first eight months of our lease it suddenly went from being very disreputable to being very middle class. I'm not really sure when or how the change happened, but one day the kid next door who looks like Usher asked if I could make him a mix CD of Talking Heads songs, and I realized very suddenly that the surly teenagers who used to blast their music and lean against other people's cars during that first summer had been replaced this year by young couples walking their dachshunds. But I digress.
I went back to working on my computer, and then RJ knocked on my bedroom door and explained that his insomnia hadn't been helped by our visitor, so he was going to walk around the outside of the house, and make sure that the guy wasn't lurking in the shadows.
"If you hear screaming, it's me," he said. "No, actually it's probably him."
The walk around the house was uneventful, which is probably a good thing for anybody who might have been considering hanging out in our backyard. To say that RJ is a big guy is a bit of an understatement. RJ could have played The Hulk, except that he's not quite fit enough to do all of that running and jumping. By day he delivers heavy medical equipment, and by night he's a bouncer, so he has a pretty good grasp of lifting, intimidation, and causing pain.
When he left for work, he left his stereo playing just to make the house sound occupied, but I think that's just an extra precaution for total piece of mind. The college students who used to live behind us had a break-in last fall, but that's what you get for inviting your dealer in for a smoke. I think we're pretty safe since -- discounting the fact that the neighborhood is a lot safer than it was last November -- we are on the side of the house that faces the street. I think the other side of the house is pretty safe, too, since one of the tenants on the other side of the house is a slightly slimmer version of RJ who uses his handicapped status to collect weapons which would otherwise be illegal for him to own. Guy keeps a friggin' crossbow under his pillow.* It's a good thing he's so down-to-earth and likeable.
* Possibly an exaggeration.