Mysteries of my Neighborhood

February 2, 2011 § 2 Comments

Courtesy of Google Maps. Real picture forthcoming.

Have I told you the story of the little old contortionist man who lives behind this doorway (yes, the door half built into the sidewalk there)? Well, he’s not really a contortionist. He’s not especially little, either. He is rather old, and he really does live in an apartment behind that half-blocked door.

The Boy and I pass this ill-conceived entrance several times a week on our way to the Wawa on the next block down, and we joke about who would ever use a door like that. Midget clowns? A fugitive who doesn’t want company? Some curmudgeonly fellow who doesn’t like to entertain? Toddlers? After a year of wondering, we finally got our answer one blistering September afternoon.

En route to a flea market at Eastern State Penitentiary, we detoured for lunch at Wawa: $1.00 hot dogs that were entirely too big and entirely too delicious. We sat on a stoop a few feet away from that impossible door, and a few minutes later we witnessed the answer to our burning question: “Does anyone really live behind that door?” I was fixated on my hot dog of unnatural proportions when the Boy nudged me in the ribs with his elbow and pointed as discreetly as a person trying to contain his wild amazement can point.

“Look! Look over there, quick!”

As I cast a glance over my shoulder, I saw the door open with a white haired old man throwing open the metal hatch on the sidewalk that was level with his waist. Then he climbed out, closed the door, closed the hatch, walked across the street, got in his car, and drove away. Just like that.

The Boy and I looked at each other. We looked at the door. Then back at each other.

Stunned silence. Did that just happen?

Then me saying, “How old was that guy?”

The Boy just shrugged. He had no words.

“He must have been, like, 85!”

We haven’t seen him since.


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