Outside, a crowd of gawkers began to form as sheriff’s deputies continued to swarm Brielle’s property. Cars slowed to a lurch as their drivers nosily craned their necks to see what was going on at the Markowitz estate. It was just after five in the morning and the first glimpses of daybreak began to show on the eastern horizon.
“Oh, my God, Brielle! What just happened!” Raina asked in deep concern as she rushed over to Brielle and Grandma Bennett.
“A burglar broke in.” Brielle answered.
“Well, whoever it was that broke in, I don’t think he’ll be back. The sun’s getting ready to rise so I think they’ll all be safe. Besides, she shot at him, so he definitely won’t be back. Most home invaders avoid homes they know are armed.” Brielle heard one deputy say.
“Hi, Raina. Hi, Kim.” Grandma Bennett greeted.
Brielle’s Best Friend Raina Arrives
“Hello, Mrs. Bennett.” The sisters answered.
Raina hugged Brielle, then turned to Kim.
“Hey, Brielle, you remember Kim, don’t you?”
“How can I forget? She was little as my pinky finger when you and I were in school.” Brielle said with a smile before hugging Kim.
“How’ve you been! Oh, it’s been so long!” Brielle gushed.
An older black man was also with Raina and Kim. Raina introduced him to Brielle.
“Brielle, this is Calvin Suggs, but we all call him ‘Popeye’ because he grows a lot of spinach every year. He lives next door to me, on the opposite side of you. He’s the one who has the ranch style house sort of like yours but with the huge garden growing in the back. He’s good people! We all love him to death!” Raina gushed as she snaked her arm around Popeye and gave him a big squeeze.
Calvin “Popeye” Suggs
Brielle stretched out her hand.
“It’s great to meet you, Popeye.”
“Much obliged, Brielle.” Popeye said as he shook Brielle’s hand, “If you like spinach, I sell it for twelve dollars a bushel.”
“I do like spinach. I use it in place of lettuce for salads.” Brielle answered.
“Good deal! I also grow purple hull peas, green beans, corn, carrots, tomatoes, cabbage, watermelon, and strawberries. I also have plenty of apple and plum trees.” Popeye added, “So, if you’re game for fresh, home-grown produce, come see me.”
“Oh, you bet!” Brielle responded excitedly.
Grant approached Brielle.
Popeye the Neighborhood Watchman
“Listen, the guy knows you’ve got a gun in the house, so I don’t think he’d be stupid enough to come back here. But just in case he is, or he brings friends. Keep your gun close and keep your eyes peeled. We went ahead and made a report, we dusted for fingerprints and found zip, zilch, bupkis. So, we’re headed back to the department. In the meantime, we’ll be looking for the guy. Stay safe.” He said before all the cops filed out of the house.
After all the cops left, Grandma Bennett gave Brielle one last hug.
“You be careful, Brielle. And watch out for these babies.” She said.
“You can count on it.” Brielle told her.
“I’ve got a doctor’s appointment at eight, so I have to run. I’ll see you all later.” Grandma Bennett said before turning to Popeye, “How’ve you been, Popeye? How’s your garden coming along?”
“I’ve been doing good, Mrs. Bennett. And the garden is progressing nicely.” Popeye answered kindly.
Popeye the Gardener
“Well let me know when you get ready to harvest those veggies. You know I’ll buy!”
“You’ve always been one of my most loyal customers, Mrs. Bennett.” Popeye beamed as he put his arm around Grandma Bennett.
“Shoot, I’ve got a freezer full of your goodies from last year. And I just bought a second freezer so I’m planning to fill it up too.” Grandma Bennett said as she slowly made her way to the door, “And if you need eggs, my chickens in the henhouse are laying like nobody’s business this year. I even slaughter my own chickens, geese, and turkeys, so they’ll be plenty of poultry available. Shoot, with the economy like it is, it pays to have your own garden and livestock.”
“Amen on that one!” Popeye agreed.
After Grandma left, Brielle, the kids, Raina, Kim, and Popeye sat in the living room and talked.
“Have there been many break-ins around here lately?” Kim asked.
Love Thy Neighbor
“A few. I believe whoever broke in on Brielle was the same guy that tried to break in my house a month ago.” Popeye informed her. He then pointed at Brielle “But, like Annie Oakley here, I fired my gun at that lowlife sucka, and he ran like a bitch! He never came back!”
Raina spoke up.
“Popeye here is like our neighborhood watchman. He knows all about the goings on here before we do. So, he keeps us informed. He heard the gunshots from your gun and came to get me before we all came to your house. Popeye watches over all of us and we love him for it.” She told Brielle.
“Thank you so much, Popeye. I feel much safer on your watch.” Brielle said with a smile.
“Not a problem, Brielle. I can’t stand people who don’t want to work but want to come rob your shit! People like that make me sick! The nerve and entitlement of those suckas…man!”
“And the cops still haven’t caught him yet?” Brielle asked.
“Man, these cops around here couldn’t catch a cold! It’s sad!” Popeye retorted.
Popeye Gives Brielle the Lowdown
“Small town law don’t have the technology of the big cities, I guess.” Raina added.
“Or they don’t give a crap. Brielle, these cops around here are just as crooked as the criminals themselves. They just play the good guys, that’s all.” Popeye informed, “And, if you live here long enough, you’re gonna find out just how corrupt they are.”
“Well, me and Raina found that out not too long ago, with the sheriff himself.” Brielle told him as she looked at Raina. Raina returned the gesture.
“Yeah, Raina told me all about that! Y’all should sue the hell out of that sheriff for criminalizing you for self-defense. But I don’t know how you’d do it. Everyone in power seems to be on the take.” Popeye said.
He then rose from his chair.
The People Disperse
“Well, I gots to go do some weeding. You gals take care of yourselves. Ya hear?”
“We sure will, Popeye. Thank you so much for being such a great neighbor.” Brielle said.
“My pleasure.” Popeye said before leaving.
Raina got up too, as did Kim.
“We gotta get going too, our kids are probably waking up hungry for breakfast right about now. Lord, I wish I had their energy!” Raina groaned.
“Hahaha! I don’t blame you there.” Brielle chuckled.
“See ya later girl!”