The construction on our road had been going on for over a year. The city was planning to widen the lanes, put in sidewalks and a bike path, and reline the whole two miles with green grass and trees. No one knew why it was being done: it’s mostly meth heads around here and meth heads aren’t exactly known for their appreciation of nicely manicured roadways. But you know cities. They’re always planning something.
One day a stranger appeared in a dark red pickup. He pulled into the newly excavated lot about three houses down. We watched him from the kitchen window. From the bed of the truck, he retrieved a metal detector, which he slowly began to weave across the dry brown dirt. After just a few minutes, we heard a strange noise. Like a beeping, a kind of alarm. The man bent over and discovered something. He examined it and then slipped it in his pocket. He went back to weaving. We heard the beep, over and over. The truck was still there four hours later when we woke up from our nap, but it was gone by dusk.
The next day the stranger reappeared, parking his truck in the same lot. This time he walked to the house across from it.
“I found your dog’s collar,” he told the woman who answered his knock. She took it from him, turning it in her hand and reading the dog’s name and address on the tag.
“I’m sorry about your dog,” he said.
“Oh, she’s fine,” the woman said. “She just lost this a couple weeks ago.”
Then we watched him head to the yellow house down the little lane that dead-ends into our road.
“I was wondering if you were interested in this,” he said to the man working in the driveway. “I notice you’ve got a little garden and it might be useful.” He handed him a little shovel, caked with dirt.
“You stay away from my plants,” the man in the driveway said, taking the shovel and retreating to his garage.
We watched him walk to a few other houses, but when he came to ours, we didn’t answer the door. We couldn’t think of anything he might have found for which we’d have a use.
The last house he went to was the blue one where Opie, the meth dealer, lives. Opie offered to sell him some meth. There’s no one in this city Opie hasn’t offered to sell meth to. We don’t know if the metal man bought any. We don’t know. We never saw him again, but sometimes we think we hear that noise of discovery.
© Christine Brandel
Christine Brandel is a writer and photographer. In 2013, she published her first collection, Tell This To Girls: The Panic Annie Poems, which the IndieReader described as a “well-crafted, heartbreakingly vivid set of poems, well worth a read by anyone whose heart can bear it.” To balance that, she also writes a column on comedy for PopMatters and rights the world’s wrongs via her character Agatha Whitt-Wellington (Miss) at Everyone Needs An Algonquin. More of her work can be found at clbwrites.com.